Most people don’t know much (or care much) about DNS hosting services, since many times, DNS hosting service is provided by your domain name registrar. However, we’d like to point out some issues that may make you consider changing your DNS hosting and using your DNS hosting from your name registrar solely as a backup.
What is a DNS Hosting Service?
When you register your domain name, the company that handles registration simply submits the information necessary to establish your ownership of that domain name. However, the information that ties you and your ownership to the actual domain name, as well as to where (which servers) that domain name points, must be housed somewhere. That’s what DNS hosting services are about: storing the information tied to your domain name. This way, when someone types your domain name into an address box in their browser, their browser has a server it can ask for information and directions for which IP address it should look at to find your site.
Here’s a general idea of how the process works:
Why should I use a service other than what’s provided by my name registrar?
Many people don’t really understand this process or don’t like having to search out multiple companies to provide a solution for this problem when many domain registration companies provide this service for free. However, there are a couple reasons that you should look into dedicated DNS hosting services.
- First, security for your domain name information is paramount; if your domain name is hijacked, it’s super difficult to repossess and negates all of the time you’ve built into branding your website and familiarizing customers with your internet address.
- In addition, if your DNS hosting is down, customers won’t be able to find your website, regardless of whether everything is working on your site or not; their browser won’t be able to find out which IP address it should visit to find your site. It’s like not listing a company in the phone book (circa 1950): even though the company (your website) exists, functions properly, and has an address, customers won’t be able to find which address to visit to find you.
- Now imagine if you’re using paid advertising — you could be spending thousands of dollars driving traffic to your site, and if your DNS server crashes, the down time just cost you all of the money you spent driving people to your site, all the money you could have potentially made form those customers, plus the fact that those customers are unlikely to return, all because their computer simply couldn’t find your site. Maximizing uptime starts to make a lot more sense in this case, as the potential costs of downtime are pretty huge.
- Good DNS hosting can also improve the load time for your site, as it cuts down the time spent for a customer’s computer to look up your IP address and display your website. Good companies usually achieve this by having multiple servers all over the world (“geographically dispersed” servers) that store the IP address tied to your domain name so the information is easy to find and act on.
Recommended DNS Hosting Services
While I love Namecheap as a domain name registrar, I’d only use their DNS hosting as a backup, and use DNS made easy for DNS hosting services since they have an awesome track record when it comes to uptime and are reasonably priced. If you want to use an all-in-one solution, I might go with DNSimple instead, as they have quality DNS hosting, but will charge for more services. CloudFlare is a popular service, and offers some free and premium plans (including some spam protection, but it can be a bit aggressive). However, I’d recommend disabling caching with them so that website changes show up immediately (the caching can be a bit of an annoyance).
Others I know of but haven’t tried: ClouDNS provides limited free services and premium services with servers located globally; PointDNS is a solid service with servers located throughout the US and UK; and Easy DNS provide solid hosting and name registration services. Finally, Amazon offers DNS hosting via Amazon Route 53, but setup is a bit more involved, so I would recommend having a developer do it for you if you’re not experienced in site setup.
Have a different service you’d recommend, or love one of the ones I’ve referenced? Let everyone else know in the comments!
- Still unsure what this DNS thing is all about? Check out this explanation.
- Here’s a list of the top DNS hosting companies by marketshare: Alexa Top 10,000 DNS Marketshare. Remember, this doesn’t guarantee quality, but it offers a search starting point.
- You can check out some more DNS hosting service reviews here.
I’m not making a dime from these services; I’m simply recommending them based on experiences as a customer in the hopes that they’ll help you with your site.