GEEKNOTE: One of the little “gotchas” involved in setting up a domain name and using it for your email or your website is that you have to designate two or more “DNS” name servers. The name servers respond to requests for information about your domain and send the appropriate information out for finding your website or mail server.
The reason for having two or more name servers is so that your domain can still be found in the event that one of the name servers winks out for one reason or another. If your website or mail server is unavailable for a short period of time, that is not a big deal to the Internet. If your domain disappears because no authoritative name server can be reached, that IS a big deal.
Some service providers will take a shortcut by creating two name server “A” records that point at the same physical server. The downside of this is that they then have a single point of failure and that one server going down takes down every domain that is using the server.
Other service providers will use two physical servers, but have them sitting side by side or in the same equipment rack. This works fine for outages effecting one server, but does nothing to protect you if the service provider’s Internet connection goes down. This includes garden variety outages as well as larger outages like an area wide outage from a hurricane or other storm.
We have been updating the domains we host to include three separate name servers. Two of the name servers are here for convenience, but the third one is out of state (typically Kentucky or Missouri) so that even a major weather event won’t result in our domains going down for extended periods.
Do you ever wonder how your domain is handled? You can type in your domain name at http://www.intodns.com and find out. If all of the name servers have the same IP address, you’ve got a problem. If they all have numbers that only vary by the last octet (the fourth number), then you still ought to ask that the name servers be spread out.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Rob Marlowe, Senior Geek