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Home » What is an A record in DNS: All you need to know

What is an A record in DNS: All you need to know

The concept of DNS is something that must be understood to ensure a proper understanding of the internet. Basically, this guide is gonna address the question ‘what is an A record in DNS?’ but before we dive in deep, let’s see what the concept of DNS looks like in the descriptive sense. 

Cloudflare described The Domain name system (DNS) as the phonebook of the internet. DNS helps to eliminate the hassle of memorizing IP addresses for each specific domain. Each domain that you see on the internet has a machine hosting it. This machine holds a public IP address through which resources and directories on that machine can be queried and located. We have different Internet protocols (IP), the internet protocol version 4 (IPv4), and the internet protocol version 6 (IPv6). IPv4 and IPv6 are strings of numbers and hexadecimal numbers, this makes it difficult to be memorized. Even when memorized it will be difficult to memorize different websites. 

Further Explanation of DNS

So the real essence of the domain name system, specifically ‘A record in DNS’ is to help map your domain to the exact server IP address hosting it for the location of the right resources and queries. When the internet is accessed, our devices are auto-assigned an IP address that will communicate with the IP of the target server. Locating the receiving Ip means, your queries such as the location of resources, directories, and downloads have been processed.

Your browser through the help of your DNS Provider will locate the relevant resources you are looking for. I normally call the browser the tool while I call the DNS the performer. Without the DNS of the receiving server being in place, those resources cannot be located when your browser queries.

What are the different types of DNS Entry? 

The A record in DNS zone is one of the many DNS records we have. There are different types of DNS entries, here are a few of them:

  • Address Mapping record (A record)
  • IP version 6 address record (AAAA record)
  • Mail exchanger record (Mx record)
  • Name server record (Ns record)
  • Canonical name record (Cname record)
  • Text record (TXT record) —typically carries machine-readable data such as opportunistic encryption, sender policy framework, DKIM, DMARC, etc.

To learn more about the different DNS entries you can check out a full list here. You can also check out our SMTP crash course to see how the different DNS records apply to good email deliverability.

Here are also the 3 DNS record that is a must configure for markers or anyone that send a message over the internet if inbox delivery is a priority.

In this tutorial, we are going to be focusing on the A record, which is one of the most important records. 

What is an A record in DNS Zone?

A record is short for ‘Address record’. It is the primary and the simplest type of DNS record. We have ipv4 and ipv6 versions of the internet protocol. It is important to specify that the  A record holds the Ipv4. A record maps domain to IP address. As hinted before, the internet work on the basis of IP address matching. A local computer accesses the internet with a numerical IP address which it uses to communicate with the receiving server IP address. Though there has been some kind of confusion between nameservers and what is an A record in DNS. They both look pretty much have the same meaning but we will address their difference and misconceptions in our subsequent tutorials.

A record point your root domain to the corresponding IP address. This helps to eliminate cramming the corresponding IP address for each website. When you type a website like j-insights.com, it will resolve to an IP address hosting it says 92.249.44.37. The internet protocol address version 4 controls makes up more than 94% of the internet traffic and is separated by a dot. There are more complex, advanced, and modern internet protocols known as IPv6. IPv6 is mapped using the AAAA record while IPv4 is mapped using the A record.

How to add a record for your domain.

Here we are going to be looking into how to edit or add an A record in the DNS zone using Bluehost, Namecheap, and Cloudflare. I believe going through the different platforms will give us a more understanding of what an A record is and how to implement it:

How to add a record on Bluehost

To add or update just login to your Bluehost account> go to domain> Manage domain> DNS> Add record>select A record.

what is an A record in DNS
Adding an A record

What is happening here is that you are pointing the domain hosting IP address to the root domain say J-insights.com. To achieve this we use the @ symbol. So, any place you see the @ symbol pointing to an IP address, just know that A record is at work.

Hope you got the point now 😊

Now let us move…..

How to add a record on Namecheap

The method of adding or updating an A record on Namecheap is quite similar to Bluehost. It can point to a subdomain or be used to establish a redirect to a different version of a domain.

See the picture below…..

what is an A record in DNS
Creating a redirection using an a record

A record can be used to redirect from https://j-insights.com to https://www.j-insights.com. This very important in SEO to have to ensure you have only one version of your website. This tells Google not to index different versions of your website.

How to add a record on Cloudflare

As you can see below, on Cloudflare there is no @ symbol which is the root point. This shows that in other to establish an IPv4 mapping between your domain and its corresponding host, you can either use the @ or just type the domain name in the supposed @ field.

what is an A record in DNS
How to edit A record on Cloudflare.

How long does it take for an A record to take effect?

If you look at the descriptive pictures I shared above you will notice there is a TTL (Time to Live) factor in the A record field. This denotes the average time in seconds that it takes A to take effect if updated. This average time is 14,400secs or 240mins.

Importance of having multiple records.

In my experience, it is a good practice to use multiple A records on high-traffic websites. This helps in the load balancing in web servers. In this concept, different A records point to multiple IP addresses, each having Identical content. This helps to share large traffic to different IP addresses while fetching the same information.

Hope the point is now clear 😊

To this end, we look forward to the next tutorial which is gonna address more DNS record types and entries.

This is pretty much What A record in DNS zone is all about.

Let us know what your thoughts are in the comment section. And if you need some form of special help, you can submit your question in our forum.

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