DNS Made Simple

DNS is one of those things, you know. It sounds impressive, even intimidating. It’s web technology with its very own acronym, it must be complex.

DNS is complex if you want to understand it from the ground up. For most of us though that’s overkill, we just need to know what it does for us in plain English and how we set the settings that make it do what we want it to do. In that context it’s not so complex, in fact, it’s relatively light weight for the vast majority of requirements.

One super important thing to understand though is that it’s absolutely crucial to the existence of your website on the internet and, if you set a setting incorrectly, your website might just fall off the internet, as it were. Not to worry though, just go set the setting correctly and, “Hey Presto”, your website is alive and kicking again.

Additionally, if you need to move your website to another host, or your hosting company decide to move your website to a different server (the computer on the internet that has your website on it) then you have to change a DNS setting to point to the new home of your website.

Thus the need for this post, because…

WP Engine (our hosting partner) are changing server providers

Sometimes 3rd party suppliers of ours make bold decisions. Like WP Engine’s recent decision to move away from their existing server provider to shiny new uber-provisioning from the web giants Google and Amazon.

A change like this is costly for WP Engine, for us and, unavoidably to some extent, for our hosting clients.

As we mulled over having to migrate many hundreds of hosting clients to new servers we decided to beef up our DNS Management offerings for the clients who don’t want or don’t feel able to handle this level of geekiness themselves.

Before getting into that offering, a quick and friendly Tour de DNS…

DNS Made Friendly

I’m not even going to expand the acronym. DNS is the tech that points your domain name to a server. Without this a browser would not be able to find your website by its domain name, the browser (well your visitors really) would need to know your website’s IP Address (a globally unique number for your server).

IP addresses come in this form: 192.168.100.100 which is neither friendly nor memorable. Thus, DNS points yourwebsite.com to 192.168.100.100 and no-one needs to remember long form numbers… nice.

DNS does the same for your email and other more complex elements of your web technologies. It points variations of your domain name like mail.yourwebsite.com to your mail server, for instance.

DNS Made Easy

For some of our hosting clients making the DNS changes necessary to move seamlessly along with the WP Engine migration is pretty easy. They understand that the domain name they purchased has configuration options, one of which is DNS and they also understand how to re-point/map the correct DNS setting to the new server. For these clients, we will be providing super clear documentation and precise timelines for the change.

For many of our clients though, this is just too much geekiness to bare, for these we are now offering 2 levels of DNS Management.

Option 1: Site Only DNS Management

If your domain name registrar (the company the domain name was bought from) offers ANAME mapping (a super modern DNS record type not well supported as yet) then we can point your website to our webspace and forward on to WP Engine from there. Then, if future website DNS changes are required, we can just repoint from within our webspace and you wouldn’t even notice that anything had happened.

This is a pretty light provision and the £100 per year price tag reflects this.

Option 2: Full DNS Management

If your domain name registrar does not offer ANAME mapping then we MUST point your entire DNS configuration to our webspace and would then be responsible for fully managing it. This, of course, means that we would be responsible for even the most complex DNS changes down the line.

Hence the £300 per year price tag on this service.

Hold on, you said friendly… What the jibber is “ANAME mapping”?

You don’t need to know. You just need to ask your registrar if they do this or not.

When you bought your domain name you will have received an email with various important details therein, including your support options. Go find that email and contact your registrar’s support department. Just ask “Do you guys support ANAME DNS mapping?”. Their “Yes” or “No” determines which of our DNS Management services are available to you.

And, breathe…

Just in case talk of DNS, ANAMEs, servers and the like leave you feeling anxious and in need of comfort, go look at some pictures of bunnies for a few minutes. That’ll sort you out.