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I am hosting a site off of Amazon S3 and hence can't point the root record, ie: to an Alias. The points to the S3 endpoint.

Do I have to have a root record and does it have to be an A record?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Root records in DNS are the central DNS servers the world relies on to coordinate resolution. This has nothing to do with your server or DNS records.

I think what you're looking for is a Default Record, so that when people go to it brings up your site. Yes, Default Records have to be of type A (or AAAA for IPv6 addresses) in most DNS servers.

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Ok thanks for clearing that up. Is it mandatory to have a default record? – Hilton D Apr 22 '11 at 13:57
It's not common, but no, it's not mandatory. – zippy Apr 22 '11 at 16:46
Is it possible to have multiple default records pointing to different IP addresses? Google apps allows you to forward to and therefore need to point to a list of IPs they give you. – Hilton D May 7 '11 at 1:39
@Hilt86, yep, default records are just A records with the same name as the parent domain, and you can have multiple A records with the same name. This is of course dependent on the implementation, which will usually support this, but isn't required to (IIRC). – Chris S May 7 '11 at 2:24
Thanks :) I really need to read the DNS & BIND book by O'Reilly – Hilton D May 8 '11 at 8:19

There is a restriction that CNAMEs, which are the aliases, are only allowed to be by themselves and thus aren't allowed as a top-level domain record (because there is also an SOA record there). So, no you can't have an alias. But functionally a web browser will treat a CNAME and an A name the same way so it wouldn't help you in the end.

Your problem is that you need a web server to be running and acting as and then redirecting you to That's actually what I'd suggest and what many sites do: The server that serves up this redirect doesn't need to be nearly as beefy as the www one.

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I would agree with Chris S, but disagree with Wes, having just spent several hours unsucessfully trying to persuade Internet Explorer to redirect both the http:// and www prefixed variants of a domain name to a domain.

  • Use of a www record and associated CNAME value in the DNS zone file works for when the domain is prefixed with www for both Internet Explorer and Firefox; however, whilst something along the lines of...

    RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^abc\.com [NC]
    RewriteRule ^.*$ [NC,R,L] to make Firefox redirect non-www prefixed requests, absolutely nothing, including redirecting every request, works with Internet Explorer beyond the DNS controlled redirection of www.

As this is not an issue I have ever encountered previously with Internet Explorer, I have a strong suspicion that the issue is with there being no A record in the DNS zone file for the domain in question (necessary to avoid a nasty conflict with the NS records in the same zone file).

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