We will soon roll out a website that is expected to scale for medium to high traffic. We originally bought registered our DNS names with GoDaddy; however after recently reading the Stackoverflow Blog(and seeing their opinion about GoDaddy) I was wondering what people would recommend regarding DNS servers / providers for large amounts of traffic.

I'd love to hear your recommendations -- as I do not fancy an outage nor having to move my DNS provider at a later date once we are already live. As well I'd be happy to include your name as a referral if that's whom we decide to go with.

  • How do you define "Medium to high traffic"? – Zypher Feb 9 '11 at 2:23

In my opinion, and I'm happy to be put right, the higher the traffic the lower the importance of a high-performance DNS server.

The reason is that if a domain is requested a lot then inherently it'll be cached on more secondary/tertiary/end-point/etc. DNS servers, meaning actually LESS requests to the authoritative server.

  • 3
    That's partly true, but it still needs to get more hits than a lower traffic site before it gets cached. It will be a lower "percentage" of the traffic that isn't cached, but it will be a higher "number" of requests at all times. – Scott Forsyth - MVP Feb 8 '10 at 17:41

I agree with kyoung, except with the caveat that DNS best practices recommend that you separate your primary and secondary (and tertiary) DNS servers onto different netblocks, and optimally, onto different physical locations. Unless you have multiple IP providers, or have multiple office locations, you may not be able to follow best practices. In that case, using a hosted DNS solution provides the redundancy that you are seeking.

If you go the "hosted DNS service" you should use a company that does that service as their primary business offering, as they'll have the architecture in place to deal with the redundancy you seek. Here are a few: Nettica, DynDNS, LoadDNS.


I've heard DNS Made Easy recommended quite often. They're used by many large companies and hosting DNS is their primary business. No personal experience though.


I would recommend running your own DNS server, and secondary DNS server.

DNS is so simple that I personally can't fathom outsourcing it, even for a large scale website.

not to seem condescending, but your dns server is actually in a long line of DNS servers, so if yours can't do the job, it will send the request up the chain per se.

of course, if you're deadset on the matter, you can split your dns to resolve internally or externally on different servers.

however, i personally have no experience outsourcing DNS, so i would look for 2 or 3 9's in uptime from a provider.

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    It's true that DNS is simple, but it's still fundamental to your connectivity. A failure in your DNS will still cascade through the chain and may be cached as a negative result. If you have your own geographically distributed servers with reliable connectivity you could run your own servers, but there are so many decent DNS hosters that I wouldn't bother. – Martijn Heemels Feb 8 '10 at 17:21
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    anyone the describes dns as simple.... read the rfc!!!! dns is a complex protocol, make a mistake with those database files and you can have an outage which can last a very long time depending on TTL values of other ISP's.... try trouble shooting a lot of dns problems and you will stop describing it as 'simple' – The Unix Janitor Feb 2 '12 at 9:44

Amazon Route 53 provides a multi-site scalable and cheap DNS service. I advice against running your own DNS service, because the most large and distributed the network, the better it will work. Amazon has an anycast network of servers; I'm not going into explaining the meaning of this, but it's something that you should look for in order to choose a reliable outsourced DNS service.

  • Plus, it has a fast, clean admin interface. +1. – ceejayoz Mar 22 '12 at 19:39

I'm a fan of zoneedit (http://zoneedit.com/). It's not intuitive, but free for a few sites, and I've never ever had a problem.


It depends on how much you want to spend. And, what do you mean exactly by high volume? Thousands per hour? Minute? Second?

DNS is something that should be distributed ; the King of DNS is UltraDNS, a Neustar company (also the provider for 1-800 numbers, for an example, and all of the .US domain structure). I use them and love them - theyre highly responsive and have great talent on board.

No personal experience, but on a smaller scale, Dyn (dyndns) seems to be touting a multi-server / multi-site offering as well.

  • I wanted to add to this, just to clear things up: I've been using UltraDNS for several years now, and I haven't had a second of DNS resolution failure. – jrishaw Sep 14 '13 at 11:30

The argument "high traffic means more caching, thus less queries" is bogus. It all depends on the locality of the visitors, and generally increasing traffic can hardly reduce queries. The first cache lookup always causes a hit to your primary; the entry will survive until TTL, so only additional queries save you traffic. The only case when more traffic may incur less queries to you is when the cache thrashes entries before TTL, AND runs with a Least Frequently Used replace policy (which is not very clever). In all other cases, more client traffic implies equal-or-more traffic at the primary.

In any case, how much is "high traffic" ? For huge volumes (billions of queries/month) you might want to go with Amazon Route 53. All other vendors I know have higher cost-per-query (but not necessarily higher total cost). If your traffic is lower, other vendors might suite you best. Not many are focused on secondary/slave/replication only. If you want geographic replication, look into http://www.buddyns.com . If you prefer big names, look into http://dyn.com .