I run a smallish website on Google App Engine. Currently, I use Dreamhost for other things and I buy my domains through them and they provide the name servers.

I'm in the process of switching domain management to Google Domains. I believe Google Domains also provides name servers that I expect will work at least as well as the Dreamhost name servers.

Google also provides Google Cloud DNS which seems to provide the same functionality as the Google Domains name servers but costs money (albeit not much).

What advantages does Google Cloud DNS have over the Google Domain name servers?


I know what the two services are and have read a lot of documentation on both so no need to repeat the basics.

For a small website, Google Domains DNS is clearly adequate. For a large website on the scale of serverfault.com, I suspect that Google Domains DNS would not be adequate and you would need to use something more sophisticated like Google Cloud DNS.

I'd like to know what limitations there are to Google Domains DNS so I have a better understanding of when I need to switch to Google Cloud DNS.

  • if "you know what the two services are and have read a lot of documentation" then I wonder what this question is about. Anyway, the information I have presented are all from google's sites (see the updated infos). Apart from that if you need some exclusive info, I guess you should consult google support/customer service directly, who can offer you the best consultations on their products. – Diamant Jan 12 '16 at 22:05
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    @bangal, I assume Google Cloud DNS is "better" (in terms of scalability, latency, geographic distribution, or whatnot) than Google Domains DNS, and I'd like some understanding of in what ways it is better. I was not able to find such info online, and was hoping others might know. The two answers so far do not provide helpful information in this respect. – gaefan Jan 13 '16 at 12:45
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    One point everyone seems to be missing; I mentioned it in my answer, but better restating it: Google Cloud DNS only provides DNS services, not domain registration. If you want to use Google Cloud DNS, you'll still need a registrar for your domain (which could actually be the very same Google Domains). – Massimo Jan 16 '16 at 21:35
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    @Massimo, that is correct, but my question is about comparing the features of the two DNS offerings so that point isn't relevant. – gaefan Jan 16 '16 at 22:02

Google Domains is a registrar which also offers a DNS service; Google Cloud DNS is a pure cloud-based DNS service, which doesn't handle domain registration but offers higher control and more features on the service itself.

When you register a domain, there are two steps involved: the actual registration and the handling of the DNS service for the domain. Most providers offer both services, and that's what Google Domains also does.

However, you could also manage the DNS service for your domain in many different ways (including running your own DNS servers). Google Cloud DNS provides you with a full-featured cloud-based DNS service, which you can use to manage DNS for your domain regardless of where and how you actually registered it.

As to choosing a solution over another... this strongly depends on your requirements. If your requirement is to run a web site (however large), then all you need is putting some A or CNAME records in your domain, and both solutions are perfectly adequate.

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    Best summary in one sentance. Google Domain DNS is a free service that goes with domains for personal or small to medium business use. Large corporations and enterprises will need something a bit more robust like Cloud DNS, if I understand the two, correct? – IceMage Jan 14 '16 at 19:44
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    Yes. But also, Google Cloud DNS will not take care of registering your domain; it only provides DNS services, domain registration is on your own. – Massimo Jan 14 '16 at 23:40

UPDATE: from Google Domains Help: Google Domains pricing and supported TLDs: One important thing to note in default features lists among others:

Features included at no additional cost

  • Google nameservers with 10 million DNS resolutions per year

And also note: Google Domains is currently available only for users in the US, as mentioned here.

Whereas, in case of Cloud DNS https://cloud.google.com/dns/

Use Google’s infrastructure for production quality, high volume DNS serving. Your users will have reliable, low-latency access to Google’s infrastructure from anywhere in the world using our network of Anycast name servers.

  • $0.40 per 1M queries / month for the first 1B queries
  • $0.20 per 1M queries / month for additional queries. etc..

So, there you see the differences on the volume of dns resolutions and infrastructure in offer. Clearly Goolgle Cloud is targetting customers with higher requiremtns with global presence and large dns request volumes.

If you take a little time to go through this official page on Google Cloud DNS, it answers all the qustions that you have:

What is Google Cloud DNS?

Nevertheless, one big difference is, apart from Google Cloud Platform, it offers one the possibility to manage dns records thruogh scripts (using gcloud command line tool) or programs (using REST API):

...Google Cloud DNS lets you publish your zones and records in the DNS without the burden of managing your own DNS servers and software. You use the gcloud tool or the REST API directly to work with Cloud DNS...

As for your situation, where you are running just a small website, I personally don't see any need for any of those.

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    Good point that Cloud DNS has a REST API, but that isn't something I need. – gaefan Jan 10 '16 at 22:05
  • @Kekito, well that's what I have mentioned in my answer, but you wanted to know the advantages. Read your own question again. – Diamant Jan 10 '16 at 22:52

You'd mostly use Cloud DNS for the convenience of having it right there in the control panel. Only Google can say, but I'd bet the underlying infrastructure is nearly the same, but with some amount of DNS service (which is mostly cheap to provide, especially for low-volume sites) built into the price.

Cloud DNS is awesome because you can use a REST API, the gcloud tool, and other ways to update/interact with it. For this reason, it's probably a good idea to switch now, because it's clear that when you need advanced features, they will be available via Cloud DNS and not Google Domains DNS.

It seems to me that they are essentially the same product, but geared at different markets: people who need DNS but don't know what it is (Domains DNS), and people who need DNS services and understand why, and want to manage it centrally with their other resources (i.e. App Engine, etc). Cloud DNS is pretty cheap and fwiw we use it and love it.

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    Thanks, I think this is right. I was hoping for more details of the differences between the capabilities of the two DNS products, but it looks like Google hasn't published those details. – gaefan Jan 16 '16 at 22:05
  • @Kekito,@sgammon, I have read this answer for the third time now. Just curious to know what new information this answer provides, that the other two answers don't. And they are no way same product as far as I can see, can you provide some reference or anything for such an assumption? – Diamant Jan 18 '16 at 9:47
  • @bangal I mentioned everything you mentioned but cut to the point: which one should he use? I think his question is a lot more about products than features. When I say they are likely the same product - likely - I'm referring to the fact that Google serves most of their internet-bound web traffic via unified infrastructure known as Google Front End. I'm not Google, but if I was Google, I'd build one DNS system and many products rather than the other way around. – sgammon Jan 18 '16 at 16:25
  • @Kekito - correct me if I am wrong, but I'm guessing you are looking to future-proof your decision for DNS (and that's why you're comparing the two, because you have to make a choice now). In that case, between these two products, I'd definitely say Cloud DNS because of the advanced features it will likely bring. – sgammon Jan 18 '16 at 16:33
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    @bangal - I didn't need to do much research because I have used both products quite extensively. Clearly, we need someone from Google to weigh in (as I originally pointed out), because unless you work at Google, you're just another dude on the internet like me. – sgammon Jan 18 '16 at 18:55

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