I'm having issues with DNS resolution of a subdomain. I'm have a bit of a weird situation (at least weird to me) so bear with me while I explain it all.

I am working with a friend who owns the november-project.com domain name. It was purchased and has its DNS hosted with GoDaddy. The nameservers point to HostGator where the wordpress website lives.

Ok. So I have created a separate web app that I was successfully serving under the tracking.november-project.com subdomain. I used HostGator and pushed my assets to the public folder they give you when you create a subdomain. There is also tracking-staging.november-project.com that I used for testing.

Recently, I wanted to move away from HostGator as we had some issues with SSL certs and uptime. I decided to move my app to S3 and uses ButtFront for caching as well as Route 53 to delegate the subdomain resolution to AWS. I used this doc to help me set up the Route 53 subdomain record:


I was able to hit the website and see the S3 assets being delivered so I removed the subdomain from HostGator. Now the website is loading for some people but not for others. I can get to the site on my phone but not my laptop. I'm seeing server DNS address could not be found. errors.

I'm not very savvy with DNS stuff and I've learned most of what I know going through this process. Any help is greatly appreciated. I can provide more info about anything as well.


After checking with GoDaddy, the DNS service is being delegated to HostGator so I cannot add zone records there.

I then talked to HostGator support and they don't allow NS records for customers at my price level (most web/shared levels).

After discussions with a friend, it seemed like the best course of action was to stop using HostGator for DNS. And since I was making that change anyways, I decided to go with Route 53 to consolidate.

I was hoping Route 53 allowed for wildcard NS records so I can delegate everything I don't want to deal with back to HostGator; however, it doesn't seem like wildcard NS records are a common thing for any DNS. So I took some time to copy over all the DNS records in HostGator to Route 53. I then switched GoDaddy to point to Route 53. I'm hoping this will work and won't cause down time for the root site.

Does this all seem reasonable? Are there more recommended courses of action?

  • 1
    How long has it been between moving DNS and the intermittent issues? DNS can take a long time to propagate across the internet depending on TTLs.
    – Taz
    Mar 31 '16 at 0:12
  • The nameserver records from Route 53 were added just about 1 week ago and I removed the subdomain from HostGator Saturday night. Mar 31 '16 at 0:14
  • Also, thank you so much @Taz for the quick response! Mar 31 '16 at 0:14
  • Your desktop browser and/or computer could also be caching the DNS. Also, did you change your name servers at the registrar? Mar 31 '16 at 3:06
  • @ButtleButkus So I added the AWS name servers to GoDaddy along with the HostGator ones that were already there. However, I now realize that GoDaddy was delegating all DNS to HostGator. So I'll probably have to alter the HostGator DNS to point to AWS for just this subdomain. Waiting on getting credentials from my friend to test that theory. Mar 31 '16 at 16:26

A whois on november-project.com shows the following nameserver records:

Name Server: NS8065.HOSTGATOR.COM
Name Server: NS8066.HOSTGATOR.COM
Name Server: NS-1032.AWSDNS-01.ORG
Name Server: NS-40.AWSDNS-05.COM
Name Server: NS-1565.AWSDNS-03.CO.UK
Name Server: NS-572.AWSDNS-07.NET
Name Server: NS-1465.AWSDNS-55.ORG
Name Server: NS-688.AWSDNS-22.NET
Name Server: NS-2026.AWSDNS-61.CO.UK
Name Server: NS-458.AWSDNS-57.COM

When I dig tracking.november-project.com on the hostgator nameserver then on the AWS one, I get very different responses:


Dig tracking.november-project.com@NS-1465.AWSDNS-55.ORG ( ...
Authoritative Answer
 Query for tracking.november-project.com type=255 class=1
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  tracking.november-project.com NS (Nameserver) ns-1465.awsdns-55.org
  tracking.november-project.com NS (Nameserver) ns-2026.awsdns-61.co.uk
  tracking.november-project.com NS (Nameserver) ns-458.awsdns-57.com
  tracking.november-project.com NS (Nameserver) ns-688.awsdns-22.net


Dig tracking.november-project.com@NS8065.HOSTGATOR.COM ( ...
Authoritative Answer
 Query for tracking.november-project.com type=255 class=1
  tracking.november-project.com A (Address)
  november-project.com NS (Nameserver) ns8066.hostgator.com
  november-project.com NS (Nameserver) ns8065.hostgator.com
  ns8065.hostgator.com A (Address)
  ns8066.hostgator.com A (Address)

Ideally, the hostgator nameservers need to have any trace of this domain completely removed to ensure they don't think they are authoritative and will pass the request on the the nameserver that IS. It looks like this isn't happening.


I've had a better look at the Amazon document and they are very vague, but realistically I think you need to add the AWS NS records to the subdomain, not the root domain.

I don't believe you should be seeing the Amazon nameservers when you whois the root domain. The records should be

november-project.com             NS    *hostgator ns*
tracking.november-project.com    NS    *amazon ns*

Whether this is the cause it's hard to tell. When I do an nslookup of tracking-staging on my own machine it fails because the primary NS is listed as the hostgator one - an NS record on the subdomain should be seen as more specific and will take precedence so should hopefully stop this behaviour.

        tracking-staging.november-project.com, type = AAAA, class = IN
    ->  november-project.com
        ttl = 219 (3 mins 39 secs)
        primary name server = ns8065.hostgator.com
        responsible mail addr = dnsadmin.gator4033.hostgator.com
        serial  = 2016033001
        refresh = 86400 (1 day)
        retry   = 7200 (2 hours)
        expire  = 3600000 (41 days 16 hours)
        default TTL = 86400 (1 day)
  • I just added the subdomain back to HostGator in hopes that it would fix the issue ... however, the tracking-staging.november-project.com site is still off hostgator and is experiencing the same issue. It might have been wrong to add the subdomain back to hostgator but I was flailing since this is affecting people. I can remove it again if you think that's best. Mar 31 '16 at 0:30
  • I've just added an edit with some more stuff I think could be causing an issue here - see what you think.
    – Taz
    Mar 31 '16 at 0:50
  • Thanks @Taz That all makes sense. I'm going to ask my friend for access to GoDaddy so I can add the NS records to the subdomain and not the root domain. I'll report back. Mar 31 '16 at 1:04
  • As an update, I got access to GoDaddy but couldn't add a DNS Zone record since GoDaddy is delegating the DNS to HostGator. I only have the cPanel login for HostGator and that doesn't allow me to create anything besides A and CNAME records. I asked my friend for the billing login to HostGator so I can manage the domain. I'm hoping that will give me more control over the DNS records. Mar 31 '16 at 16:28
  • This is definitely the correct answer. In my case this wasn't possible because HostGator didn't allow my to create NS records unless I payed a higher tier. Mar 31 '16 at 23:37

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