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I am a developer who doesn't understand how to effectively manage Internet domain names.

Say I registered a name with namecheap and host a website on linode. Now what is an a-record? What is a name server and do I host it with namecheap of linode? Why would I pay amazon when others are free? Does any of this matter in terms of website latency or reliability?

I feel like a script kiddy, copying and pasting others' and hoping it works. Is there a book or other resource that explains all this? I know amazon is full of books about DNS, but afaik they are about setting up DNA servers for local networks, not the Internet.

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closed as off topic by Zoredache, Magellan, Tom O'Connor, EEAA, Ward Nov 17 '12 at 16:17

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1 Answer 1

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There's 4 types of records that are used commonly but there's a load of other types which you may never run into

An A record is also known as an address record is for IPV4 addresses only and its IPV6 equivalent is an AAAA record. It always points at an IP address.

A Cname, or canonical name record is an alias - it is a record that points at another record.

A mx address is for mailservers and used where the mailserver for a domain has a different ip address than its name.

A txt record is supposed to be for arbitrary text data, but is used for a lot of different things.

Name servers are something that well, tend to work, and unless you had special requirements or choose to run your own, most people don't really notice.

A name server works like a phone directory. When asked for a domain name, it gives the ip address associated with it. Name servers are hierachical - the 'root' name servers know which name servers handle a TLD, which know which servers handle a second level domain and so on. There's two types of name server - authoritative and recursive, but for the purposes of the question, they don't matter.

As for whether to pay for seperate nameserver hosting - your regular host may not have a SLA or have geographically distributed servers. In the case of amazon, you're paying for integration with their services, management tools, and having multiple DNS servers all over the world.

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