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I found this Can an NS Record Point To Multiple A Records?, but wonders what is the difference, if any.

For example: IN NS IN NS IN A 111.222.333.1 IN A 111.222.333.2

versus IN NS IN A 111.222.333.1 IN A 111.222.333.2

EDIT: actually, come to think of it, it could be said the same for MX records. Any breaking differences?

EDIT 2: then again, MX allow use of priority values so its a different case, in that one-ip-per-domain is more useful sometimes.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

There is a semantic difference.

If an NS record (or MX record) points to a host name which subsequently resolves to multiple A (or AAAA) records these are supposed to represent alternate addresses for the same host (aka "multihoming").

See paragraphs 8 and 9 in s5.1 of RFC 5321.

Hence it's not always required that a client would try every known address for a particular host, but it should try every named host.

So, in the (normal) single-homed case with multiple name servers or mail servers, you should use a different name for each server, with a single IP, rather than one name with multiple IPs.

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just found - take a look section 5.3.3 step 3. – Sandman4 Nov 20 '11 at 20:20
As Sandman4 points out, it doesn't have the effect that you state, because resolving proxy DNS servers do in fact simply try every IP address returned. It's actually simpler to implement that way. Picking and choosing amongst A resource records, rather than simply using them all, is more work for an implementor. – JdeBP Jan 20 '12 at 17:11

I suppose it just can be implementation specific - maybe some odd servers will always use only one of addresses or something like that. But normally probably should be no difference.

Btw, I found one RFC that mentions similar situation - look at RFC 2181 section 4.3, 3-rd paragraph. It says one A for one NS, but provide no reasoning.

Edit: The main difference obviously is that (1) is what everybody uses and as such 100% tested, while (2) is what nobody uses and as such there's higher possibility of it being broken is some implementations.

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RFC 2181 §4.3 says "A records", plural. It doesn't say one A resource record per NS resource record. It says one NS resource record per distinct group of host-local/site-local/global addresses, according to connectivity, with the A resource records in the group associated with the intermediate domain name in the value of that NS resource record. Given the split-horizon capabilities of most content DNS server softwares, the multiple NS resource records and intermediate domain names aren't really needed in practice. – JdeBP Jan 20 '12 at 16:58

Read books!

In case of multiple A Records per name resolver will return always one IP per request for NS (round-robin'ed from pool), in case of multiple NS Records all records will be returned and if one of NS failed, all others will continue to work and serve requests

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no, the name server will quite happily return multiple IP addresses even in the first case. – Alnitak Nov 20 '11 at 19:41
@Alnitak - show it, not just say – Lazy Badger Nov 20 '11 at 19:59
@LazyBadger dig – Sandman4 Nov 20 '11 at 20:05
@Alex Don't tell me about dig!!! Show real session for multihomed host, where first IP failed, with auto-rollback!!! And apply this to multihomed NS (homework for you) – Lazy Badger Nov 20 '11 at 20:12
@LazyBadger you first - you need to show an example that you're right. – Alnitak Nov 20 '11 at 20:24

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