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When I register a domain with a registrar and want to host it at a hosting company, I usually set the hosting compan's DNS servers in the interface at the registrar. But I now see a hosting company which is asking me to set "A Records" at the registrar and does not provide DNS servers.

Do these two approaches accomplish the same thing?

(I note this related question, which discusses the architecture but does not explain whether the two approaches are functionally the same.)

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1 – MDMarra Oct 28 '11 at 13:40
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Two good answers already, although I don't think either of them answer the question particularly clearly.

Do these two approaches accomplish the same thing?
Yes (if you're just talking about getting the website working)
Ultimately, both end up with an A record (as you can tell from the other answers, a type of DNS record) for your website pointing to your host's web server, which results in your website being accessible from your domain name.

Version 1) You configure your domain settings at the registrar to point to your host's DNS servers
This hands control of DNS for the domain to the host; the host's DNS servers will already be set up with all of the records you need (eg, A records) for your domain so you don't need to worry about setting up individual records. will point to your website, will probably point to the address for ftp, the mail will already be set up etc.

Version 2) You use your registrars DNS servers, and configure an A record pointing to your host's web server
This leaves control of DNS for the domain with your registrar, you have to set up any DNS records yourself. They've given you the details for the record to set up the website, but you may also want to set up records for FTP and mail - this is main difference you'll see between the two approaches.

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You're getting confused with terminology, which isn't helped by hosting providers using unclear "friendly" language.

An "A Record" is just one type of record which is exists within DNS. It's all a matter of context. See this list:

Those are all the things that you COULD configure within your DNS server. In other words, you've never been configuring DNS as such - someone else has done that - you're just configuring a field within their servers.

But yes, generally, when you're configuring Y's DNS servers, you're probably setting up an "A Record".

You may have also come across a "CNAME" which lets you point to another DNS name, rather than an IP address.

I hope that make some sense - it's a little hard to explain from scratch. This Wiki page explains more of the fundementals of DNS:

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easiest way to remember cnames is its basically an alias. so Cname of may point to which has an A record that gives an IP of – Sirex Oct 28 '11 at 10:51

The registrar's technical service typically consists of running a DNS server that hands out an NS record pointing at your DNS server, which you then configure to give out A records for the names that should be resolvable.

When you are with a provider that offers DNS service as well as hosting, the registrar points at their DNS server (NS), which points at their hosting (A). If your new provider does not provide a DNS server, your options are to get that service separately and have the registrar point their NS there, or to ask the registrar to configure an A record directly, removing the need for a separate DNS server for your domain.

Whether that is a sensible thing to do depends on the registrar as you lose a bit of flexibility for creating subdomains and some registrars charge extra for the service and/or changes to the zone data.

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