Are you perplexed by the complexities of the DNS system? Don’t worry, you are not alone! Even though the DNS standard was established in 1986, countless memes on the internet suggest that it still baffles people, and even the tech titans like Meta find it tricky to work with.
In this article, we will discuss what DNS propagation is, how it affects your website and how you can speed it up. Let’s dive right in!
What is DNS Propagation
DNS propagation is the time it takes for changes made to a domain’s DNS records to take effect across the internet. When you make a change to a domain’s DNS settings, it can take some time for that change to be reflected everywhere on the internet. This is because DNS records are cached on different servers all over the world, and it takes time for those servers to update their records.
Why Should I Care About DNS Propagation?
You might not need to worry about DNS propagation if you’re just a casual internet user. But if you’re responsible for managing a website or domain, then it’s important to understand how DNS propagation works, because it can affect how quickly your changes take effect.
For example, if you’re transferring a domain to a new web hosting provider, it’s important to be aware of how long the DNS propagation will take, so that you can plan accordingly. If you’re not aware of DNS propagation, you might assume that the changes you’ve made to your domain’s DNS settings will have taken effect immediately, when in reality it could take several hours – or even longer – for the changes to be fully propagated across the internet. This can lead to confusion, and potentially cause problems for your website or domain.
How To Propagate Changes Faster
Method 1: Reduce time-to-live (TTL) Value
The best way to speed up DNS propagation is to reduce the time-to-live (TTL) value for your DNS records. This tells DNS resolvers how long to cache your DNS records, so reducing the TTL value will ensure that DNS resolvers refresh your records more often, which can speed up the propagation process.
However, this comes with a few downsides:
- If the DNS records for your website expire quickly, it can cause your site to appear slow to visitors, because their browsers will have to fetch new records more frequently, which takes time. This can be frustrating for users, and make them less likely to continue using your site.
- It can lead to an increase in the number of requests sent to your DNS authoritative resolver. If you maintain your own servers, this can put additional strain on your system, potentially increasing hosting costs and server charges.
If you plan ahead of time, you can avoid this by temporarily reducing the TTL values of your DNS record one day before you plan to make changes. This will ensure that all the records will expire quickly when you want them to.
For example, if your DNS records have the TTL value of 1 day, then you can change it to 5 minutes the day before. On the next day, you can change the DNS records to point to new servers. This will ensure that all the new visitors will be sent to your new server within 5 minutes of making the changes. Once you are satisfied that everything works as expected, you can increase the TTL value back to 1 day.
Method 2: Request DNS Resolvers To Flush Cache
If you didn’t plan ahead of time, and you need to update your DNS records immediately, then you can request DNS resolvers to flush cache values of your records, and update them with new existing values. Here are the links for some of the major DNS providers:
- Cloudflare: https://18.104.22.168/purge-cache/
- Google: https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/cache
- OpenDNS: https://cachecheck.opendns.com/
Although flushing the cache from these servers will update the records for the vast majority of users on the internet, many technology enthusiasts and enterprise clients who have the time and resources to maintain their own DNS servers will still have a stale copy of your DNS records until it expires.
Check If DNS Records Were Updated Successfully
Method 1: Use A DNS Propagation Checker
You can use a DNS propagation checker to monitor the progress of your DNS changes. These tools can help you track when your changes have been picked up by different DNS resolvers around the world, so you can see how quickly the propagation process is progressing.
We recommend using Site24x7’s DNS Propagation Checker which checks the DNS records of a given address against multiple nameservers from different parts of the world.
Method 2: Use DiG Command
If you know your way around the command line, and would rather use a terminal instead of a third party service – then you are in luck. Almost all Linux distributions have the ‘dig’ tool preinstalled; you can use it to check records for any website by using the following command:
$ dig blog.runcloud.io
You can also query the records from a particular nameserver instead of using the default DNS resolver by specifying the IP address of the server:
$ dig @22.214.171.124 blog.runcloud.io
Making DNS changes (and them taking longer than usual) can be annoying to have to wrap your head around but as long you factor in changes taking time, you should be able to avoid any potential problems. If you already use RunCloud, you’ll likely know that we encourage using Cloudflare which is also what we use for all of our own systems and provides fast, global DNS propagation. Still considering making the switch? Get started with your 5-day free trial today.