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What are the practical benefits and downsides of running your own DNS server instead of using the DNS servers provided by your registrar? More specifically, in what situations would you run your own DNS server?

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5 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I am going to assume you are asking about setting up a DNS server for answering authoritive zone information for a domain. If your setting up a server just to do name resolution for clients, there are another set of considerations.

In an ISP setting where there are a lot of domains that may be hosted, running your own DNS might be beneficial. Direct access to the configurations will be available, and can be easily integrated into whatever system you are using to manage your customer's domains, such as Virtualmin or whatnot. Downsides are that you have to manage your own DNS server, so security updates and configuration, redundancy, and all the other fun activities that go with server maintenance. Although ISPs are generally hosting the Web servers anyway, so generally not a big deal.

For a singular site, I would generally go with using your registrar or hosting company. Both organizations will generally have far more system redundancy then one can build out. Most provide enough configuration options for all but the most complex of setups.

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I recommend a third method: Use a dedicated DNS provider such as Zoneedit or EasyDNS.

For the typical website, it is the best of all options:

  • Very easy to use (web interface)
  • No problem when changing hosting provider
  • No problem when using more than one hosting provider
  • These companies have global, redundant DNS server network (better than the typical hoster)
  • Cost negligible (at least for Zoneedit, that is what I use for years)
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I recommend a forth method: Host your own DNS and use a DNS provider as secondary. You can keep the hand on your zone files and benefit of all the advantages you gave. –  Benoit Dec 13 '10 at 13:38
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Pros: ego boost. Cons: some things really should just be left to professionals. This is one of them.

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pros: you can change any record any time you want can script it - basically control

cons: if the server is not accessible .... nobody can reach you

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In the old days, it was pretty much considered standard to run two DNS servers and try to get as few joint points of failure as possible. So having them both on one host was horrible, having them both in the same datacenter was ok but not great, and the really "up there" good DNS servers were the ones where you had one in MAE-EAST and one in MAE-WEST, or one in Europe and one in North America. I note with some alarm that these days even some commercial DNS providers have single points of failure, but it would be really hard for you to avoid it if you were doing it yourself.

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