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I'm trying to cut costs while setting up a Windows dedicated server, and I'm looking for a free Win-compatible alternative to Plesk. I really only use Plesk to set up my DNS (I don't need any of their scheduling, users, etc), so I see no reason to pay $30 a month for the privilege of an easier one-time setup of my server's DNS. The easier to use the better, but I'm willing to get my feet wet setting this up if need be. Anyone have free software or a tutorial they can recommend?


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I would recommend leaving the DNS setup at your registrar unless you are intending to configure the required two or more DNS servers on separate physical subnets. Just set/add appropriate A records to point to your server using the registrar's interface.

Once you have your domain(s) pointing to your server via the registrar, all you need to do is configure IIS to serve the right content for the domains - managing the DNS is not your problem (unless something goes badly wrong at the registrar).

I've heard this many times, but I have to ask -- if my servers are in a single subnet, and that subnet vanishes from the internet, what's the advantage of having the names of my servers resolve? In other words -- what do I lose by having all my DNS servers running in the same network as my service providing servers? Granted -- I'd rather have redundancy, but if there is none for my servers, why do the DNS records need to be more reliable than the things they point to? – chris Aug 21 '10 at 2:22
So I don't need any software at all just to manage the DNS zone files? All I need is to get my domain to resolve to the server. – MarathonStudios Aug 21 '10 at 2:46
@chris: some software will react differently to "got server address, but can't see it" and "can't get address for server" situations. The example I've been given in the past (though I've not checked the truth of it) is that mail is likely to be immediately bounced rather than held for a later retry at delivery. – David Spillett Aug 22 '10 at 10:44
@Marathon: for simple cases, yes. There are advantages to running your own DNS servers (I do for my domains) but for many letting the registrar do that and just setting relevant A records (and MX records and others as needed) point to your server is easier and does the job. If you want to offer an integrated solution that lets your users manage their DNS then you need to have the DNS managed by your kit, but your question implies that the server is just for your use. – David Spillett Aug 22 '10 at 10:52
@chris: another email related point in favour of having two or more properly separated DNS servers even if all your other servers are on one box: if you have entries like SPF records in your DNS then you want servers to be able to access these records even if your main box (your only DNS server if you manage your own and don't have two or more) is out of action for some reason or inaccessible due to routing issue at your end, the other, or somewhere between. – David Spillett Sep 3 '10 at 11:43