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DNS

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Ever wondered how DNS works? If you don't know what DNS is you're not alone. It's one of the important keys to making the Internet work. Without it you wouldn't be able to type geeksandgod.com into your browser and get here. In this weeks episode we talk about what DNS is and some different ways it touches churches and ministries.

supersweetawesomechurch.com

Rob mentioned that someone should buy the domain supersweetawesomechurch.com looks like someone already has ! All the whois information point to hostmonster so that's no help.

Finally

Sheesh, we've only been talking about that for 2 years...finally someone bought the best domain name EVER :)

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

I guess we will start having

I guess we will start having to use superdupersweetawesomechurch.com now

understanding DNS

5

Anyone that is really interested in learning a lot about servers and the way the internet works should get an old junker computer and try to run a linux web server on it. I did earlier this year, and it was an invaluable experience. I used Ubuntu Server Edition, and now host two websites on it.

God bless,
Brian G.

One More Time!!!

4

Seems to me that you touched on this subject in a past episode... Switching Webhosts.

Anyway, I think this subject(switching webhosts) would make a great step-by-step tutorial. The whole DNS / NS & host settings vs domain settings is a little fuzzy to me.

Thanks, and keep it up!

Use 1and1.com for name registrations

First a disclosure: I'm an affiliate with 1and1.com. I think I've made about $5 this year in commissions.

Now to more serious comments:

1. I fully agree that domain registration should be handled separately from hosting. We all sign up for hosting at a vendor that we expect to use forever but, sooner or later, there's always the possibility that we'll want to move hosting companies. Things are definitely easier if the registration is separate.

2. Since virtually all hosting accounts come with a "free for life" domain registration pick a useful name that you can consider a "throw away". If your main name is xyz.org maybe you choose xyz.com or xyz.net; you might as well control other TLDs for your domain.

3. I don't recommend 1and1.com for hosting (although my wife has two sites hosted on a single account, one of which is Drupal).

4. I DO RECOMMEND 1AND1 FOR DOMAIN REGISTRATIONS. I use them for all of the domains that I own; I have placed clients with them (even without commissions). I've found them to be responsive and their prices to be among the lowest on the 'net (registrations are less than $10/year for the common TLDs; it looks to me like register.com charges about $35). A major reason I started using them was that they don't charge extra for private registrations ($10/year at register.com).

The only time I've had a problem with a transfer to 1and1 was caused by slowness of the original registrar in approving the transfer (which doesn't happen very ofter these days). I was frustrated with 1and1 because their answers to my inquiries weren't very informative. Only later did I learn the real reason behind the delay. One could say that 1and1 took the honorable route of not pointing the finger at another company.

5. Good stewardship requires that we seek to get the best value for our money.

Thanks for another good episode.

Merry Christmas and I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Curt

Question

Just curious, why don't you recommend 1and1 for hosting?

I think there are better options

It seems to me that every major shared hosting vendor has both supporters and detractors. When I choose a vendor for a particular site I rely upon both my own experience and the reported experiences of others. 1and1 simply has too many detractors and not enough supporters with regard to hosting, especially when we're talking about Drupal sites (PHP and MySQL) as opposed to static HTML sites.

Right now I am using, and a number of my clients are using, another major shared hosting vendor that has comparable pricing (for hosting) and our experiences have been, generally, pretty good.

Curt

A little more detail and a different analogy

I finally got a chance to listen to this podcast this morning. I'm not going to rate it, because I don't think I have the right perspective. I would like to throw out a couple more examples and analogies that should help clarify how DNS works.

I like the phone number analogy, but would take a little different approach. Let's start with the simple fact that every computer on the Internet - your web server, a mail server, your laptop - has at least one numeric address. This is a direct analogy to a church having a phone number. Some devices have multiple addresses (numbers) and sometimes you have multiple servers to divide the load or so that one will keep running if the other fails. Either way, the user doesn't care that there are multiple numeric addresses. They just want to view your web page or send mail to your domain. This analogy is more like a church that has multiple phone lines tied together in a hunt group. People dial the main number, and the phone call goes to line 2 or line 3 if the first is busy. That's not exactly how it works with DNS, but it's similar. Rob mentioned extensions on a phone number. I'd equate that more to ports than IP addresses. After connecting to my server using its address, I'll ask for port 80 (extension 80) for web, port 25 to send mail, and ports 110 and 143 to read mail, and so on.

I'd like to point out is that your registrar isn't really directly involved when a person wants to view your website. In reality, the conversation goes a little more like this:

  • I need the address of www.example.com. I'll go ask my friendly local DNS server for an A record that tells me where to find www.example.com.
  • This DNS server, on your network or maybe at your ISP, always knows the address of the 13 top level name servers. These servers hold the NS (NameServer) records that point to the top level domains, such as .com, .net, .org and the country codes like .uk, .de and .au. The server retrieves the address for .com.
  • Now the requesting server asks the .com domain server for information about example.com. The .com server doesn't contain any records about example.com except for NS records that point to this domain's name servers. These records are published by your domain name registrar, who has permission to submit this information to the servers for each TLD.
  • Next the requesting server connects to the server which holds the information for example.com and requests information about www.example.com. In most cases, this will return one or more A records containing the address.
  • The requesting name server reports the answer back to the machine running the browser.

This can get more complicated because there can be caching at every step of the process. NS records for top level domains usually have very long time-to-live values, so caching name servers only have to look every couple of days.

If this all seems a little fragile, it is. DNS was created back when the Internet was a much smaller and friendlier place. Like many old protocols, it has some nasty bugs and holes baked into its design. There are some smart people trying to make it safer and more stable, but it will probably be a while yet before we see significant changes.

Micah

Rate it badly

It's ok to rate it badly. I wouldn't rate this episode well. :)

This is good info. I know it... but wasn't sure how of if I should try to explain all that detail. It's good detail to have, I think. Thanks for the comment.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Re: Rate it badly

What I meant was that I don't know if it was effective for someone who doesn't really know much about DNS. I've had to learn a lot about DNS over the years, so I have no perspective when it comes to gauging how much a newcomer needs to know. It's one of those things where you can even sum it up in one sentence, or talk for hours on the subject. I'm not really sure there's an "in between" level, or where it is.

Micah

DNS episode

4

Hi Fellow Michiganders,

The DNS episode (and others like it) are important as they cover essential concepts of the internet that everyone needs to know. You both do a good job of covering the basics in the short amount of time you have. Please don't apologize for introducing these "harder" concepts because you guys are one of the few that can do it in a fun way.

I personally enjoy your program because you talk about tech subjects as believers. You make a difference every month in my life!

Experience

Just wanted to stop in on this and pass on some hard-earned advice:

Never use the same company for hosting *and* domain registration management. That way hosting disputes will never affect domain management. For example, if you use Dreamhost to host your site, maintain your domain management elsewhere. (This is not a dig at DH, I've never had a lick of trouble with them. Just using them as an example.)

The experience that led me to this conclusion: I managed a couple of sites with a hosting company in the Carolinas (I won't name the company but its name began with "X"). They drastically changed policies there, which damaged the sites I was managing unacceptably, so we decided to move the sites to a new host. Unfortunately, the domain was registered there, and they had put their own names on the record, and locked it down to prevent us from moving the sites.

I ended up having to go "upstream" from then to the registration service they were using and do some "social engineering" to get control of the domain back, in order to switch hosting services.

Since then I've always insisted on maintaining the domain name management with a company that is unrelated to any hosts I use. That way, if the hosting relationship deteriorates I will still have access to and control over the domain name, and be able to move the site or quickly put up a backup somewhere else, so that disputes with the host will never make the site go dark.

I hadn't thought of this but

5

I hadn't thought of this but would it be easier to host your email accounts on your name registrar rather than your host? It would seem a lot easier than setting up email accounts on new hosts every time you change.

Any downsides to this?

/ * Begin Signature */
It's a strange thing about determined seekers-after-wisdom that, no matter where they happen to be, they'll always seek that wisdom which is a long way off. Wisdom is one of the few things that looks bigger the further away it is.

Use Google

Google provides Google Apps Education Edition (I think that's what they call it) free for non-profits. This includes the ability to "privately brand", i.e., use your domain name, email accounts.

There are a lot of advantages in using Google: lots of space, good service, POP or IMAP intrface, webmail, good spam filtering, etc.

Just my 2ยข worth,
Curt

Unsure...

In one way, it's a potential problem if you ever decide to switch registrars, but in another way, it's still less of a problem when you switch web hosts.

For myself, I'd probably go with keeping at least one email account on a free service, like gmail, that way you never get your email held hostage, and there will always be an email address that works, if a problem arises with either your host or your registrar.

But maybe I'm just paranoid.