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Because I need to make constant additions or updates to my zone records, I decided I'll host my own nameservers. What server specs would you recommend for a dedicated nameserver? I can't imagine memory or bandwidth usage would be very high, so how is a tiny VPS with a reliable company? I was considering the $7.95 plan here:

http://vpslink.com/vps-hosting/

Comments or suggestions? Thanks!

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3 Answers 3

The two major factors here are how many zones (and how many records in those zones) you are maintaining on the servers, and how many queries you are expecting to receive for the information. Without a measure of the sort of load you expect the name server(s) to carry we can't say much as to whether a given spec will be suitable to cover the need.

A good ball-park gauge for the number of requests if you are only hosting web services is the maximum number of unique visitors per TTL period (so if your time-to-live values are 60 minutes and you get 600 unique visitors in some hours then 10 reqs/min is probably a reasonable estimate or what you need to support). Double that a few times to account for small bursts of extra traffic.

Unless you are running a very high traffic operation or managing quite a few zones, the sort of spec that you linked too should be more than sufficient assuming that you are just running bind or similar (and sshd for remote maintenance, of course) on a basic OS install (i.e. no other major services like apache and no X or other such).

You need to look for reviews of the services before ordering, paying particular attention to what people say about network latency and CPU sharing - high latency or massively over-sold CPU resource will result in bad DNS performance.

Also note, if you haven't already, that you should have at least two DNS servers and that they should be both topologically and geographically separate (different provider, different network, different location).

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Without DNS, your site is pretty much borked, so you may not really want to host DNS using an $8/mo VPS. Think about using a managed DNS service, where they live and breathe DNS for a living.

DynDNS is nice for smaller organizations; UltraDNS is a good place to start for an enterprise offering.

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We've had some truly ancient physical hardware providing DNS to our whole educational network (between 3000-8000 IP consumers). So the base server stats are pretty simple for a basic web-site. We haven't done DNSSEC yet so can't provide baselines on that, it should require more beefy servers.

What you need out of your DNS servers is reliability and stability. We're talking service guarantees, here. We used old hardware, but that hardware did nothing but DNS and it just ran. A VPS without service guarantees is not really worth it, unless your DNS traffic is so low that even wide variations in CPU delay won't affect it. Go with a dedicated DNS provider, or a VPS-provider that can offer guarantees.

As for that $7.95 VPS, even our truly ancient hardware had 256MB of RAM in it. Our Zone files contained both the forward and reverse lookup zones for the aforementioned 7000-odd hosts.

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