What is DNS? - Domain Name System Explained

DNS or the Domain Name System (also referred to as Domain Name Servers) is like "the phone book of the Web". While a phone book translates a name like “Acme Pizza” into the right phone number to call, the DNS translates a URL or web address (such as "www.example.com"), or email address into the correct server IP address to contact (for example "") to retreive the information that you want  - in this case, the example.com website.

When you type in a web address, or send an email, your computer contacts the server that hosts that website or email address in order to complete the sending or receiving of information.  When you type up www.example.com, your computer "talks" to your Internet Service Provider, who in turn, talks to a localised DNS server hub, who in turn then communicate where the data 'lives'.

The DNS is the glue that holds all of these data transactions together.  The DNS is effectively a large database maintained in various centralised locations.  That 'master database' information is regularly cascaded out to all of the world's satellite servers, so that every machine knows where to look to transact any information.  Whenever you change your email or webhosting provider, or make certain other changes to your domain name, it is necessary to notify the DNS database of the change, so that the incomming requests get sent to the new address and not the old one.  Usually, these changes are notified automatically, whenever a change is made to your domain name.

As you can imagine, once a change has been notified, the DNS must be updated across the globe.  This can take as many as 2 or 3 days (and sometimes longer) to complete because the change must be communicated out to all of the world's DNS servers, from the central DNS database.  This is known as DNS propagation and many different factors can affect the speed at whcih propagation completes.

In most cases you should not need to make any changes to any aspect of your domain DNS - TheTechworx.com take care of this for you.  We are very experienced in these matters and strongly recommend that you consult with us first, should you wish to make any DNS changes.  If you do make changes to the DNS (or request us to do so for you), you should know that it can take between 1 and 72 hours for the changes to fully propagate across the internet.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When any DNS changes are made to your domain name, it can affect delivery of your email / website / other services. You can experience slow data transactions and your email / website could experience interruptions.  If you have any doubts, please let us know prior to making any changes to you domain's DNS settings.


DNS Switch Over

For your convenience, here is a quick guide / Glossary to the different aspects of DNS.

Name Server Record (NS)

Name Server (NS) records determine which servers will communicate DNS information for a domain. Generally, you will have a primary and secondary name server record for your domain. If you are hosting your website or email with TheTechworx.com, your domain name will need to point to our Name Servers. Which one depends upon which hosting service you have purchased - please check the "Hosting Account Welcome Email" that was sent to you when you signed up, as these show will show the correct NS for your service. 

An example of the Cloudworx Hosting Nameservers is: ns1.cloudworx.thetechworx.com & ns2.cloudworx.thetechworx.com


A Record

Address or "A records" (also known as host records) are the central records of DNS. These records link a domain such as “www.example.com” into the correct IP address to contact (for example “”). 


MX Record

Mail Exchange (MX) records are part of the DNS - they direct email to servers for a domain. Multiple MX records can be defined for a domain, each with a different priority where the lowest number is the highest priority. If mail can't be delivered using the first priority record, the second priority record is used, and so on.  For example, you might have To set up email with Google Apps, you need to point your MX records to the Google mail servers first.


CNAME Record

Canonical Name or CNAME records link an alias name to another canonical domain name. For instance, alias.example.com might link to example.com. You'll need to use CNAME records if you want to configure a custom URL for specific services (such as Google Apps).

TXT Record

Text or TXT records may contain arbitrary text but can also be used to define machine readable text. TXT records are used primarily for domain ownership verification purposes. Also, you’ll need to use TXT records to implement email abuse prevention methods such as SPF, DKIM, and DMARC.  These all help to ensure that your emails will not get stopped by spam filters.

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