What is a DNS server?
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the service that provides the link between the domain name and the IP address of a server. It means the user does not to have to know the exact IP address of a website in order to access it.
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How does a DNS server work?
When a domain name is entered in a browser window, the request is sent to the DNS server. The server responds by providing the IP address of the associated web server. The browser can then address its request to the target server, then send the data it receives (i.e. the website they wanted) back to the user. At OVHcloud, your DNS server is included at no extra cost and can be used with your domain name, web hosting plan, CDN, SSL and email accounts.
From a DNS query to displaying a web page
A web search triggers a series of steps that allow the user to access the content they want to view.
- Users can use their internet connection to enter a URL (e.g. “ovhcloud.com”) into a browser. This request is sent by the router-modem to the DNS resolver, which resolves the domain name.
- The DNS resolver, usually the internet service provider (ISP) resolver, receives the request and forwards it to the DNS root server.
- The root server responds by specifying the server corresponding to the top-level domain (TLD) extension attached to the domain in question (here, it’s .com).
- The DNS resolver sends the query to the .com name server. The server then responds, indicating the DNS server that is responsible for the domain name.
- The ISP resolver sends the request to the DNS server, which consults the IP addresses and provides the one corresponding to the web server associated with the domain name “ovhcloud.com”.
- That IP address is transmitted to the browser and stored in a DNS cache for faster loading in the future.
- The web browser submits the ovhcloud.com Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) request to the web server corresponding to the IP given by the DNS resolver.
- The web server responds by returning the content contained in ovhcloud.com (i.e. the homepage of our website).
DNS zone and subdomains
The information used by the DNS server to resolve queries and perform DNS redirections is written to a file known as a DNS zone. This file contains various detailed technical information, called records. It usually contains records that correspond to the locations of the website, the mail server, and other elements relating to the domain name and subdomains. This means that the files for each service can be located on your server, and the user can access the right content.
DNS zone record types:
- MX record: used when email addresses are associated with the domain name. The Mail Exchange record redirects emails to the email server address.
- CNAME record: allows you to add an alias (mail, www, subdomain) to a domain name.
- A record: sometimes referred to as a host record. It links the domain name to a server’s IPv4 address.
- AAAA record: like the A record, it links the host name, but this time, to the IPv6 address of a server.
- TXT record: provides values in text format, often indicative information that can be viewed by external sources. It is often used to validate a domain-related request, such as ownership, or for email server security with DKIM, SPF and DMARC protocols.
- SOA record: contains several fields of general information on the DNS zone, such as the name of the zone or the date that it was last updated.
- NS record: specifies the domain’s DNS servers.
For each record, you must determine the time to live (TTL) value. This data sets the frequency with which any potential modification can be taken into account, in seconds.
About DNS servers
Your domain name with OVHcloud
Reserving an OVHcloud domain name brings you a number of features. It comes with a 10 MB web hosting space and a 5 GB email account included. It also includes the DNSSEC solution, which is used to protect your domain name and authenticate the DNS zone. With our Easy Redirect service, you can also redirect your domain name to one of your social media accounts.
Enable Anycast DNS for increased accessibility
This option allows you to speed up your DNS server by optimising how it works. Anycast DNS can be enabled automatically, for instant deployment on our servers. By duplicating your DNS zone in our various points of presence around the world, it will prevent your traditional DNS server from becoming unavailable. By redirecting to the DNS server closest to the physical location of the requests, it reduces latency and enables web pages to load faster.
Your questions answered
What is a domain name?
The domain name is your website’s address. You can use it to provide an alternative IP address to the IP address of your server where your content is stored. While using an IPv4 address was already restrictive when searching for a website, the use of IPv6 addresses makes the process even more complex, due to their length. Depending on the server configuration, several domain names may have an identical IP address. The DNS redirection is then carried out to the hosting space, where the website corresponding to the domain name is stored. Choosing a domain name and extension that best describes your business and the purpose of your website, blog or e-commerce store is an important step in your online growth.
All domain extensions are available from OVHcloud at a great price!
Can I modify my domain name’s DNS servers?
Yes, it is a very simple process. Simply go to the section dedicated to your domain name in your Control Panel. You can then change the current DNS servers and replace them with the external server addresses. You can also check out our detailed guide on managing and modifying DNS servers.
Can I modify my DNS zone?
Yes, you can fully configure your DNS zone file from your OVHcloud Control Panel. Use our tool to simply add elements by entering their information. You can also edit your DNS records manually in text mode, and keep a local backup.
How do I find an affordable domain name?
The price of your domain name depends on several factors, including the chosen extension. However, a cheap domain name does not mean that it is less appealing than any other. You can choose a domain name extension that best suits you, depending on your needs. For example, if your business is related to travel and tourism, you could choose an extension relating to this sector, such as .travel. As a registrar, OVHcloud takes care of the administrative steps between its customers and the domain name registry.
My DNS server is not responding, what should I do?
If your website is inaccessible, the error may be due to your DNS configuration. If your DNS server not responding or is unavailable, you can refer to our documentation on resolving your inaccessible server.
Can I change the DNS server used by my browser?
Yes, you can modify your browser’s DNS server. Head to your browser’s network settings to make the necessary changes. You can usually choose a different provider directly, or you can enter the primary and secondary DNS manually. It might be listed as primary DNS, primary zone or primary server, and secondary DNS, secondary zone or secondary server. You can also modify the DNS zone on Windows in the network settings. On Linux (Debian and Ubuntu), you can edit the configuration in the command line, via the console and/or terminal.