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I am looking at master DNS settings on my Enom domain. I'm wondering what the difference is between the following....

www
@
*

www is a bit obvious, but what about the others? What is @ if it doesn't apply to email? At least, the MX records relate to all of the email, right?

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

The * character is used to denote a wildcard record. A wildcard is basically used to provide an answer for to questions related to records that don't exist in your zone.

The www is just a typical name.

The @ character is a special character that usually as shorthand for the current domain. So for the zone example.org the @ characters is shorthand for example.org.

Also see:

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Let's say your domain record for nowhere.net has these two entries:

@ IN A  78.90.12.34
* IN CNAME nowhere.net.

The @ sign in a record means the domain itself with no host, i.e. nowhere.net. This would allow someone to put http://nowhere.net in their browser and resolve to 78.90.12.34.

The * sign in a record is a wildcard for any hostname. You could enter www.nowhere.net, ftp.nowhere.net, mail.nowhere.net, yo-mama.nowhere.net, etc. and they would all resolve to the IP specified for the domain. You wouldn't have to set each one up with a separate record.

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The other answers are correct, as far as they go, though they don't really explain @ fully.

In DNS parlance, "@" is short for the origin. Typically this is the same as the zone name because it is inherited from the zone name unless otherwise specified, but it can be changed within a zone file by using the $ORIGIN directive.

Finally, as long as we are on the subject of the "@" character, it should not occur in e-mail addresses when they are called for in zone files (for example, the zone administrator address in the SOA record.) When an e-mail address is written in an SOA record, the "@" character is replaced by a period, i.e. "admin@example.net" is written "admin.example.net" in an SOA record.

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