DNS Terms Cheatsheet

There are a lot more domain record terms than this, but these are the ones I most frequently encounter. I’ll add more as I run into them.


Record Description Use
A Address Record Point a domain to a specific IP address
CNAME Canonical Name Record This is an alias of one name to another. Example: A CNAME of www.cagrimmett.com to cagrimmett.com tells the server to look for the WWW version wherever the non-WWW version’s A record resides. CNAME records must always point to another domain name, never directly to an IP address.
MX Mail Exchange Record Direct’s a domain’s email to the server hosting the accounts. I most frequently use this for setting up Google Apps.
NS Name Server Record Determines which servers will communicate DNS info for a domain. You usually have a primary and secondary. This site uses Cloudflare’s name servers.
DNSKEY DNS Key Record The key record used in DNSSEC.


Term Full Name Description
DNS Domain Name System Basically a phone book for the web. When you try to go to a domain (e.g. google.com) in your browser, the domain name system tells your browser where to find that domain, usually an IP address.
TTL Time To Live How long it will take any change you make now to go into effect
@ Self-referential character You don’t use the actual domain name in your DNS settings. Instead, you use the @ symbol to indicate the domain name.
DNSSEC Domain Name System Security Extensions A set of protocols that add a layer of security to the DNS lookup and exchange processes.

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