D.N.S – no, it’s not a disease or a dirty word. But if you own a website or email address, you should have an understanding of what it is – and what it can do. I promise you this article isn’t overly technical, but might just save you from stopping your emails from sending, or from bringing your website down.
What is DNS
To be technical for a moment, DNS stands for Domain Name System – but don’t worry about that. What it really is, is your domain records. Like any personal records, they are super important, and should be respected.
DNS records can do lots of things, so let’s look at that now.
What does DNS do?
DNS records control things like:
- Where your website lives
- Where your email lives (sending/receiving emails)
- Preventing your emails going into junk
- Validating domain ownership (for Google and other programmes)
- Forwarding visitors from www. to non www.
Why does that matter? Why Should I Care?
In a nutshell – if your DNS is wrong, your website might not work, or your emails may be down (so not sending or receiving). It’s important to understand this, as often people will say “oh, you justupdate your domain records” like it’s nothing – but it really is. Disclaimer – once you understand basic DNS, updating simple things like your website address isn’t too bad…but advanced DNS is super complicated (to be honest, it even hurts my brain).
What could go wrong?
Bad stuff. Not irreversible of course, but it will cause you panic, stress and possibly dollars finding someone to fix it. Some examples are – if you incorrectly change your A record, your website won’t display (as in, you will go to your domain and there will be an error screen). If you incorrectly change your MX record, your emails could go down.
When might I need to update my DNS?
- Changing webhost
- Changing email host/provider (e.g. moving from another platform to G suite or vice versa)
- Using a third-party platform, such as click funnels
- Validating your domain for Google, or Mailchimp, Active Campaign etc
Types of DNS records
A > website – important!
MX > email related – be very careful
CNAME > website – important!
TXT > not so scary
What do I do if I need to change my records?
Firstly, don’t panic. A lot of hosting companies will make updates for you, if you ask nicely. So you need to know where your DNS is hosted, find out the changes that need to be made and then contact your host. This is why it’s worth paying for a good one <link to that post>. For records like TXT – these aren’t as scary and can be added much more simply, most platforms that require you to make this sort of change will give you detailed instructions on how to.
And of course if you get really stuck, you can ask someone (like me) for help!
Hey, I’m Kristy
Kristy runs a web development consultancy, specialising in WordPress sites. Kristy combines her excellent technical knowledge with her ability to translate this into ways that are understandable to the average person, so her clients feel informed and in control of how their websites are developed and managed. She is also the Co-Founder of B Directory where the team is supercharging small business growth.