I am running a small hosting service and from time to time I have a new user using cloudflare.

To use cloudflare users

1) copy the DNS zone via the cloudflare interface

2) set cloudflare nameservers

In the DNS zone there is a bunch of A records such as

apex.com A

www A

However from time to time I need to move websites across servers with different IPs.

I would replace A records with CNAME records eg.

apex.com CNAME apex.hosting.com

www CNAME apex.hosting.com

if it weren't for the SOA/NS vs zone apex CNAME issue.

What alternative is open to overcome this problem at DNS zone level?

It's beyond me why I can't find a solution to such a problem at DNS zone level.

Load balancer/virtualization are not an option unfortunately.

  • This is one reason why CloudFlare and many other providers strongly recommend that sites use a 301-redirect from the apex to www. Aug 24, 2013 at 15:43
  • but that means pointing to a server with a web server configured to redirect, I am sure there is a more efficient way - but I can't see it.
    – wlf
    Aug 24, 2013 at 15:53
  • It's also a trivial four-line virtual host you can put on any server anywhere. Aug 24, 2013 at 16:06
  • @MichaelHampton your comments were the best thing I got out of this question. However leaving aside the "dummy" virtual hosts, I can already hear users screaming asking why the hell they can't have their non-www website.
    – wlf
    Aug 30, 2013 at 7:41
  • 1
    No, those hacks are utterly nonstandard and aren't compatible with anything other than their own services. You'll be much more likely to have problems if you do use them. Aug 30, 2013 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


There is a hosted option that provides for what Michael Hampton suggests above. It's called wwwizer.com.

Set your zone apex A record to this IP address and it provides a 301 redirect from the non-WWW version of your domain to the WWW version.

Just point your naked domain to and it will be redirected to the same domain with www in front. Read more...

Amazon's CTO Werner Vogels used to use this for his own blog before Amazon S3 offered S3 Website Root Domain support. The Amazon Route53 DNS service has since started offering a special type of record called an 'alias record':

Additionally, Route 53 offers ‘Alias’ records (a Route 53-specific virtual record). Alias records are used to map resource record sets in your hosted zone to Elastic Load Balancing load balancers, CloudFront distributions, or S3 buckets that are configured as websites. Alias records work like a CNAME record in that you can map one DNS name (example.com) to another ‘target’ DNS name (elb1234.elb.amazonaws.com). They differ from a CNAME record in that they are not visible to resolvers. Resolvers only see the A record and the resulting IP address of the target record.

However, this only applies to Amazon customers. I frequently use wwwizer with domains I host via Rackspace Cloud DNS, and I'm very pleased with it.

  • Thanks, I read about the "alias". Do you think it's possible to change BIND's default behaviour and achieve something similar... I can't help feeling DNS have failed on me for the first time ever.
    – wlf
    Aug 24, 2013 at 16:07
  • @wlf DNS is working exactly as it's meant to; a FQDN is either a CNAME or something else (and "something else" includes the possibility of "does not exist"). You can't have it both ways, unfortunately. (Well, in theory you probably can, but support will be spotty at best and almost certainly unreliable.)
    – user
    Aug 24, 2013 at 16:46
  • @MichaelKjörling we are talking about the zone apex here, a FQDN is the complete domain name for a specific computer or host such as mail.hosting.com, not quite the same thing.
    – wlf
    Aug 30, 2013 at 7:34
  • @wlf You can put an address record at the top of the zone causing that name to become a "host name". There's nothing magical about abcdef.co.uk that sets it apart from www.abcdef.co.uk, nor is server01.webservers.example.com necessarily any different from webservers.example.com; they are both DNS names which can have different types of DNS record data ssociated with them.
    – user
    Aug 30, 2013 at 8:19
  • 1
    @MichaelKjörling The SOA/NS vs CNAME problem was mentioned in the question from the beginning. TLDs have nothing to do with the question. If you still don't grasp the difference between abcdef.co.uk and www please see this link blog.cloudflare.com/… You can have a CNAME for www, db or whatever, but you can't for abcdef.co.uk. That's the reason why services such as DNSimple have come forward with custom DNS record types.
    – wlf
    Aug 30, 2013 at 13:08

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