DNS Records explained, A vs. CNAME vs. MX and how to use them

December 6, 2020
written by Amr "The Internet Guy!"
DNS records Explained by Amr The Internet Guy

DNS Records explained, A vs. CNAME vs. MX?

What are they and what’s the easiest way to manage your DNS?

HumanTalents Tech

DNS records Explained by Amr The Internet Guy!

Today we’re discussing DNS records and I’m going to show you the difference between the A record the CNAME, the TXT record and the MX record.
There are more than four DNS records of course, but these four are the most important ones that you should master. 

Video Transcript

Cloudflare, MX record, DNS records, servers, hosting, domain name, domain, create, record, IP address, Cpanel, DNS servers, website, txt record, DNS, subdomain, email, hosting company.

By: Amr The Internet Guy Selim

Hi, guys, so today we’re discussing DNS records. And I’m going to show you the difference between the air record, the CA name, the TXT record, and the MX record. So we’re going to go through these four very important DNS records. There’s more than four, of course, but these four are the most important records that you should know about. And I’m going to show you a glimpse from inside CloudFlare and show you how to use Cloudflare. To manage your DNS, and how the security or the extra security layer of CloudFlare works.

I’m going to be sharing my screen. Let’s get inside. Hey, guys, how’s it going? So, today is a continuation of us discussing the domain name system or DNS. If you remember, in one of my last videos, we’ve discussed how the DNS thing or the domain name system in the internet or on the internet works. We’ve also discussed Cloudflare, and I highly recommend it to everyone. And I’ve decided to go one step further. Today we’re discussing the different DNS records, especially, you know, for DNS records, there are four very famous ones is the air record, the C name, the MX and the TXT record, which is not here, I’m just using like one of my domain names as a, as an example, there’s no website there, there’s nothing, there’s no email or a website.

So I can play around as much as I want right now. And show you around here. So as a double whammy, have decided to show you how Cloudflare looks from the back end. So I’m logged into Cloudflare. If I’m adding a new domain to clause there, I can just go click Add a site, and it will ask me for some details. And but the site is already added. So let’s go and have a quick look. So the first record, before we get actually into the records, I want to show you my name servers.

These are the name servers. If you remember last time, when we were discussing how the DNS system works, or how the domain name system works, we said that for every domain name, there is an authority, like a specific authority, this authority tells the root DNS servers of all the internet, what is the IP address of that specific domain. So the name servers are the authority for a given domain name, which is the ns, where you put this like the settings where you change your name servers is where you’ve bought or wave where you’ve registered your domain. It’s not necessarily where it’s hosted. It’s where it was registered as an example, many people use GoDaddy, or Namecheap, for example, to register their domain names. So this is where you would go log in and change your ns or your name servers. Generally speaking, if you’re not using Cloudflare, your name servers would usually be the hosting name servers. So for example, if you’re using siteground, your name servers would look something like an S one.siteground.com. And then as to that siteground.com, and so on.

Here, we’re using Cloudflare. And as you can tell, they have funny names there. And don’t be alarmed. If your name server would be called Michael or Julia or something like that. That’s a, that’s a Cloudflare thing. You’re not hacked or anything. They just like strange names or people names, which is good sometimes. Anyway, so here, I’m using Cloudflare, which means for my domain name, which is a quick website, today.com. The authority name server is Cloudflare. So since this is my authority, this will be where I have to log in to create my DNS records, the different DNS records that I need in order for every service that I have online to work.

So let’s scroll up and show you. Now I want you to ignore the error record that’s called Old hosting. It’s just me reminding myself of an older IP address for a reason. But generally speaking, any domain name should only have one a record, you should not see more than one otherwise, you have confusion, the error occurred as for address, so this gives every single server on the internet including the root DNS servers that are responsible to resolve your domain name to its IP address.
Right, it gives them the address, so that’s it’s called the address, record the record. That’s the most important one, and this is the first record that you have to create. If you have everything else but you don’t have the record sometimes Things will not work.

I have to create the record. First, you have to go and copy the IP address from your hosting. So, if you are using cPanel, when you log into your cPanel, go to the top upper right-hand side corner, and under server details, you’ll see the server’s IP address, that’s the one you want to copy, they usually give you this information, but in case they didn’t, or you lost that email, you can just log into cPanel. And be careful. When you log on to cPanel. You’ll see your server’s IP address, and you may see another IP, which is probably where you have logged in from the last time you were on the cPanel. So just make sure you’re actually copying your server’s hosting IP address. This is the most important piece of info, you need the correct IP address right here.

I’m on Cloudflare. Right. So you copy this and you put it here does the important one. The next record for you, which is also important is the canonical name or the CNAME. Basically, you need a senior record for anything that you append to your domain name. So here for example, if if I had a website, I and I go to quick website today.com. Since I already have my air records there, you will be able to get to my website, right. But if I don’t have the senior record, right over here, right, if I don’t have that, when you do www dot quick website, today.com, you get nothing, you get an error, because the record doesn’t exist, so it doesn’t resolve it doesn’t know where to go. Same thing if you create a subdomain on your hosting most hosting plans, they will allow you an unlimited number of subdomains.

I can have new dot quick website today.com. I can have staging dot quick website today.com. For each one of those subdomains, I need a senior How do I create a senior I just go and say add a record, choose type. Scroll down to CNAME Apologies, my mic is too close to my keyboard. So probably hear some noise when I type. Okay, instead of typing the full DNS, the full CNAME here, I can just go with this “@” Right? Oh sorry, it should be here not here. name here is the subdomain name. So let’s say I’m creating a staging website, I want to call it staging 10. And then I’ll just save it. And that’s it. And now I have a C name called staging 10 dot quick website today.com. Let me just click on “type” So they’re all sorted by their type they appear together, it makes it easy. The third one, which is one of the most important DNS records is the MX record, which is the mail exchanger. If you’re hosting your mail, where you’re hosting your website, chances are your MX record just says mail dot domain name.com. Let’s up here I’ve assumed that I don’t have an email on this domain. Anyway, I’ve got nothing on this domain. But let’s assume I’m using Google G Suite as my email as my preferred emailing system. Because it’s reliable, it gives me a lot of stuff. And so one. So Google would give me three to five MX records to create with different priorities, the number is the priority. I’m not going to go deep into what these priorities mean. But usually, you have one MX record or more, as long as they’re all pointing to the same place. So all of them should be pointing to Google, you shouldn’t have more than

an MX record, like you, shouldn’t have two MX records, and each one of them is going somewhere else, they all have to be pointing to the same domain Google would give you, I think five, four or five, I can’t remember the exact number. And if you’re using Microsoft 365, or office 365, as it used to be called, what’s going to happen, they will also give you three MX records to create. And this is easily how you can create any type of record. I’m not going to cover all of them. But I’ll go just quickly over some other famous types like the SPF record is something that you will probably need to create.

If you have an email service like Google or Microsoft, they will give you the details that you have to enter in there. So you just create an SPF and then you enter the details here. It allows your mail to be sent without it appearing as a spam at the destination. There’s one other record. We call it the DKIM or the domain key. It’s a TXT record. So you just Go and create text. And then they will give you the information to go for the name. And then you’ll have like a big string of text to write in here in order for your domain key to work. And that should be it. So these are the most famous ones.

As you can see here. The types of domain are DNS records, know how many it is probably more than 10 of never, some of them have never even touched I’ve never used and I don’t think, you know, I need to use them, like, as MIMEA. But right here, right now, we’re just focusing on the three or four most famous DNS records that you will SEE when you’re creating a website. Now, I’m showing you where to go and how to do it on Cloudflare. Because of my previous video, I highly recommended you use Cloudflare. If you remember, one of the things that I said is that Cloudflare adds an extra layer of security. Now, look, this is where my angle, let me just move the microphone a little bit.

This is the hosting IP address where my site actually lives. So let’s assume somebody has malicious intent. And they want to attack this website. Now, if you see here Cloudflare is proxied.
This IP address for me means if you go and conduct a Whois search on this domain name, it will give you a different domain address. Knowing address, IP address, so let’s go Who is appsource? Se. Here it is. So now, do you see this IP address 104 blah, blah, blah, blah, that’s actually the Cloudflare IP address Cloudflare dotnet. Right. So if somebody wants to attack my domain name or my website where it lives, and they do a Whois search, it will give them Cloudflare IP address, not my real IP address, which is 192. Something, look here is 104 something so they’ll end up attacking CloudFlare as IP, which is great, not great for Cloudflare. But they’re built for that like actually, they deal with it correctly. So that it doesn’t bring my hosting server to its knees. That’s the added layer of security.

Now, I hope those people with malicious intent will not be watching this specific video, otherwise, they get the correct IP. But anyway, tough for me then right? So this is the reason why one of the reasons why I said the usage of CloudFlare is highly recommended. This is the free tier by the way. And then if you go here, and you go to speed, and then caching, these are two things, extra things that Cloudflare would give you. As I said in my past videos, if you’re using Cloudflare, free, you wouldn’t see like loads of improvement in the speed, it will speed it up just a little bit. But it’s worth having anyway. Right. Now, let me go back to the DNS setup over here. So what if you are hosted somewhere else and your name servers are using the hosting company, let’s say for example, like siteground, I think siteground should pay me money. Now I’m advertising them for free here. So if your name servers are ns something dot siteground tick.com or something like that, and you wanted to go and create extra DNS records on the siteground panel on the left-hand side, and then you scroll down all the way and you’ll find the link that says domain. If you’re using another hosting company that uses cPanel, you need to be looking for something called a zone editor.

Login to your cPanel look for zone editor, click and it will show you all your records and then you can manage them from there. Usually, if you create a subdomain, on your hosting company, automatically, they add the senior MX record for you. Sometimes they add an air record, it depends on what you’re trying to do there. And but they do this automatically. In most cases, there’s no need for you to add anything manually. I do this on Cloudflare Of course, because when I create a subdomain on my hosting, it doesn’t automatically reflect here. I have to go here and get this done. So this wraps up Oh, yeah, sorry. One thing that I forgot to tell you, the MX record with the emails, one of the most frequent questions that you get. I have just changed my email from the email that was hosted with my website on the hosting provider, which wasn’t good. And it was ending in spam and whatever. And now I moved to Microsoft or to Google or something like that. But five minutes after I’ve done this, and I’ve created my MX record, I’m not receiving any emails, I can send that it sends, okay. But I’m trying to test the email, and I’m not receiving anything. So what happened? Okay, what happened was, you just created the MX record, and it hasn’t been propagated properly to all the DNS servers, which takes up to 48 hours. But one of the great reasons to use CloudFlare, this tool, the DNS management tool, from CloudFlare, is actually very fast. it updates the root DNS servers really quickly, realistically, and you know, if you want the truth, yes, it takes some time, it could take a few hours, could take a day could take two days, up to 48 hours. You know, that’s the answer that you’ll get from the hosting support. But let’s check it for ourselves. So let me create a new MX record. Here. I’ll just go and go MX. And then the name would be SP x. And apologies for hitting my keyboard where the mic is. Any two dots. Come. Okay. Oh, sorry, I think I didn’t think to here. And then here is a route. And save and save it. So now I have two MX records, one after the other. Yep. This is just a random thing is not true. But I just wanted to show you what does a DNS propagation mean. So let me copy my domain name. Here. Go to the DNS checker. So is DNS checker.org. And I’m asking it to tell me, what are the MX records of that domain, and look, bank, the new ones are started to appear here. 22 blah, blah, blah. 22 is there It has already propagated to most of the servers in the world, most of the root DNS servers that fast. So that wraps up this video. Thank you very much for watching. I hope it was useful.

And see you on the next one.

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