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Domains, URLs, & DNS, Oh My!

Domains, URLs, and DNS Entries: what’s the difference?

How are you at Internet Trivia?

Give an example of a “Domain”, a “URL”, and a “DNS Entry”


URL: or

DNS Entry: 3600 IN A

A domain name is registered with any registrar accredited by ICANN. Each TLD (top-level domain) is the responsibility of one registrar. For example, the CC TLD for Canada (Country Code Top Level Domain) is .ca and it is administered by CIRA. CIRA allows various registrars such as OpenSRS and others to buy wholesale from CIRA and sell to customers.

Each TLD has different rules because they are governed by different registrars.

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is created using a combination of a domain name that has an A record (or AAAA record) configured to point to a particular server on the Internet plus a local path on that server that points to a particular resource. Domain names make it easier for users to locate sites and services. When you ware going to something on the Internet, it’s convenient to use the URL so you don’t have to search out the location of the information yourself.

DNS (Domain Name Server) Entries are made using a DNS server that can be rented or owned by anyone. The Domain Registration record allows any Internet user to look up the location of the DNS server that is responsible for that particular domain. An A record tells the inquirer what IP address the server for that domain name is to be found at. AAAA records tell it the IPv6 address if there is one.

Other record types are critical as well, including NS (Name Server) records which tell what DNS server to query for further answers, MX records tell what email server handles mail for the domain, and TXT records which contain text information used for various purposes. See the examples below: 14400 IN NS 14400 IN NS 3600 IN A 3600 IN MX 0 600 IN TXT “google-site-verification=2yBWRx3DcEYZ6HqOK4dKuFhKD4MZ6347asRNu4AxHCc” 600 IN TXT “v=spf1 ip4: +a +mx ~all”

In most cases, the DNS server is provided as part of a web hosting package subscription. It can also be provided by the domain registrar or the email host provider. A domain can be configured with all of these parts provided by different service providers, or by the domain owner’s own servers. Each record needs to be configured correctly for that service associated with your domain name to function properly.

Domain name registration, DNS service, web hosting, and email hosting can all be provided by a single provider but more frequently now there is a mix of providers working together. However; it is useful to have central management of all the services and configurations, whether that is in-house or outsourced, to ensure smooth uninterrupted services of all functions of your domain.

Many clients come to us not knowing much about the configuration a domain name or how a domain name works for their online services. There’s more to a domain name than purchasing it and configuring it properly is essential to your internet services working properly. A domain needs to be configured properly in order to provide the services it is designed for.

Most companies set and forget DNS configurations because the system is rock solid when set up properly. Changes to hosting, email, or other services associated with your domain name will necessitate changes to the configuration of your domain name. Done properly, it’s seamless but if not done properly it can cause many issues like service outages.

100% HelpDesk has the knowledge and expertise to sort this out for you. Our team has configured thousands of domains and can quickly sort through the issues that can crop up when moving domains, starting up new ones, or troubleshooting setups. Contact us to talk about your situation.