What’s My DNS?

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What is DNS?

If you are new to web hosting, you may have heard the term DNS, but you might not be sure what it means or how it is essential to you. DNS is short for Domain Name System, and it is the process by which the whole Internet organizes and easier way for humans to reach websites. Numbers or IP addresses identify all of the computers/websites connected to the Internet. While computers have no trouble identifying each other using these strings of numbers, it would be challenging for humans if we had to remember a set of numbers for every website we wanted to visit! Fortunately, DNS translates domain names like liquidweb.com to an IP address and back, so all we need to know to find a website is the name. For a more in-depth discussion of the DNS system, see Understanding the DNS Process.

You can use the DNS Tree for a quick, visual comparison of the records that exist on all of your nameservers. Making sure your records match across nameservers and that they match your server is an essential part of troubleshooting possible website issues. If you’re error messages like “This site can’t be reached” or “webpage is not available”, the DNS Tree may help you figure out where the problem exists.

 

How Do I Check My DNS?

Verifying accurate DNS records is essential for navigating traffic to the correct web server. You can use Liquid Web’s Internet Webhosting Toolkit to view your current, authoritative DNS records. Just go to the toolkit’s site, click on the DNS Tree tab, enter your domain name, and click Submit.

Note
Our servers will query your domain’s nameservers for the most common DNS record types. If a domain is not registered or if no DNS records exist for the domain, you’ll receive an error message indicating that the records are not available. This may suggest that your nameservers are unavailable for some reason, especially if you are hosting those nameservers on a private server.

If you have registered your domain and set DNS records our tool will display the results in an easy to see “tree” of records, organized from most general to most specific.

In our example, we are looking up the records for liquidweb.com, so the tree begins with that domain at the far left of the screen.

The next set of records displayed are the Authoritative Nameservers for the domain. These are the servers designated as the holders of the records for this domain. If you want to change the records for this domain, you must change them on these servers. Changing records anywhere else won’t make reflect DNS changes. Your domain can have one, two, or as many Authoritative Nameservers as you would like but most websites use at least two for redundancy and stability.

 

The next set of entries in the DNS Tree show the Types of records that are available. DNS record types are unique for each kind of DNS function.

  • An “A Record” is used to identify primary IP addresses of given domains.
  • MX Records” are used for email routing and delivery.
  • TXT records” hold additional information about the domain, like SSL validations, DKIM entries, or SPF records.

For more information about DNS record types, see DNS Record Types.

The final “column” of entries displays the actual DNS record. This is typically an IP address for an “A record”, and domain name for an “MX record”, or a string of text for a “TXT record”. Hovering the mouse over a circle will display all of the information for the record in a pop-out window, including the TTL, Type, and Data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve made recent changes to your DNS records, the toolkit may be showing an older, or cached, version of the records. The TTL portion of the record indicates how frequently the DNS system should update its records. TTL is shown in seconds, so a typical setting of 3600 means that servers will be asked to update your records every 6 minutes. The delay that occurs during this period is referred to as propagation. Some DNS changes, like nameserver changes, can up to 72 hours to propagate, so if you are going to be making changes to your DNS records, you’ll want to lower your TTL values for a quick update. For more information on reducing your TTLs, see How To: Lowering Your DNS TTLs.

If you need additional help, Liquid Web customer’s can contact the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting via ticket, chat, or phone at any time and we’ll do our best to make sure everything is working correctly.

 

How Do I Use Liquid Web’s Hosting Toolkit?

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If there is one truth in the world of web hosting, it is that we always need more information. Information about configurations, servers, connections, delivery speeds and networking is essential in troubleshooting and optimizing our web presence. While this kind of information can be gathered from various providers and sites across the Internet, Liquid Web has developed a one-stop shop toolkit to gather some of the most vital troubleshooting tools in one convenient interface designed to make your life easier.

The Liquid Web Internet Webhosting Toolkit provides you with the data you need to verify connectivity, identify DNS issues, and test web page performance. We’ll continue to develop and share new tools that will make your job easier; it’s one of the ways that we are working to be the Most Helpful Humans in Hosting. Continue reading “How Do I Use Liquid Web’s Hosting Toolkit?”

How to Setup Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 18.04

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Sites with SSL are needed more and more every day. It’s ubiquitious enforcement challenges website encryption and is even an effort that Google has taken up. Certbot and Let’s Encrypt are popular solutions for big and small businesses alike because of the ease of implementation.  Certbot is a software client that can be downloaded on a server, like our Ubuntu 18.04, to install and auto-renew SSLs. It obtains these SSLs by working with the well known SSL provider called Let’s Encrypt. In this tutorial, we’ll be showing you a swift way of getting HTTPS enabled on your site.  Let’s get started! Continue reading “How to Setup Let’s Encrypt on Ubuntu 18.04”

Plesk to Plesk Migration

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Migrating from one Plesk installation to another is easy with the Plesk Migrator Tool! The Plesk team has done a great job creating an easy to use interface for migrating entire installations of Plesk to a new server.

If you need to move files, users, subscriptions, FTP accounts, mail and DNS servers setup through Plesk, this guide will help you successfully navigate the process and come out victorious!

We will be splitting this tutorial into three sections:

Continue reading “Plesk to Plesk Migration”

Install Poweradmin on Ubuntu 16.04

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What is Poweradmin?

Poweradmin is a web-based graphical user interface to interact with PowerDNS. It is released under the open source GPL license. It makes it easy to create and edit zone files and interacts directly with the SQL server. Poweradmin has full support for most PowerDNS features, including all zone types (master, native and slave), supermasters, for automatic provisioning of slave zones and full support for A, AAAA, CNAME, HINFO, MX, NS, PTR, SOA, SRV and TXT record types, validation against RFC’s. It also has user and permission management setup for controlling user permissions with templates.  In this tutorial, we’ll be showing you how to install and configure Poweradmin as well as some records.

Continue reading “Install Poweradmin on Ubuntu 16.04”

Gmail Blacklist

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As one of the most trusted email providers, Google keeps top-notch security by maintaining their own blacklist and security information. With the numerous users the company provides email accounts to, there is an overwhelming amount of data that Google can scrutinize for spam or malicious emails. By gathering this valuable information, rules are created to filter problem content. These rules are highly sophisticated, and as this data is compiled, specific IP addresses are flagged and sorted into what is called a blacklist.

The Gmail blacklist is designed to prevent unwanted spam, malicious content and excessive amounts of emails. Some of the most common reasons for getting blocked are as follows;

  • Large amounts of emails sent from a new IP address.
  • Sudden changes in email volumes.
  • High bounce rates.
  • Spam reports from Gmail users.
  • Incorrect DNS settings.
  • Low sender scores.
  • IP listing in public blacklists.

Gmail’s blacklist may also take information from several public blacklists in order to block malicious/unwanted/compromised IP addresses prior to having any complaints from them. This is a preventative measure intended to keep the lowest amount of spam possible. All things considered, this is the reason your Gmail address will likely have far less unwanted emails or better filtering rules.

 

There are several effects to being on the Gmail blacklist, and the most obvious is that all email from the IP address sending mail will be blocked. This means everything including personal communication, bulk messages, email lists, etc. Not only will it block the problem domain or user, but everything else on the SMTP server attempting to use that IP address.

This poses a large issue for shared IP addresses on any server. But there is hope! Both in the form of preventative measures as well as ways to redeem your IP address and clear it from the blacklist. Before clearing your IP address we highly suggest you review the information to make sure nothing has been compromised. Blacklists often mean an email has been hacked, or there are just poor emailing practices.

Preventatively, you can protect the IP you are using with SPF records should you have no current issues. These records will assist in providing additional verification for the IP address you are using and help keep your IP clean.

 

If you’re already experiencing issues with Gmail delivery, then the first step is to diagnose the SMTP server. If this is a managed environment, it’s best to contact your hosting provider and ask them to review the specific email address having issues. Be sure to include example messages, any bouncebacks you’ve received and any specifics you can remember. (Subject lines, recipients, time of email, etc.) This should help in the retrieval of data.

You can actually get a full copy of the headers of any messages having issues directly from your email client. If you need information on how to do this, you can always check out this article. View full e-mail headers.

If you are having trouble delivering mail and can’t find any fault on your SMTP server, then it’s time to search some blacklists to test the waters. One of the most reputable places to start is mxtoolbox.com. Although Gmail does not state what mechanisms they use to blacklist, this site allows you to search your domain and query a large number of blacklists that should tell you if there are issues coming from your server. Along with cleanup instructions and links to each blacklist, this site is a handy tool for anyone looking to admin their own email.

There are several other sites that can be referenced for blacklist checking, but unfortunately, the only one way to get information from Google specifically. If you are not on a blacklist and there are no issues coming from the SMTP server, then it’s time to fill out a Delivery Problem Form. This form asks for basic information as well as any technical information you can provide. The more information you can provide, the easier your process will become for a listing check and possible removal or de-listing.

From there, Google should help you through the rest of the process or provide further information that will move the issues along. But that still leaves us with one question….

 

Well, the guidelines differ depending on what you are using email for. As some of us just use email for personal use the rules are pretty simple. Don’t send malicious content, make sure you don’t attempt to use huge files or send to everyone in your address book every thirty minutes for no reason, etc. These are all suspicious behaviors or hard rules that will either fail or cause issues.

Really we can boil the best practices down to a few important rules of thumb.

  • Do not spam.
    • This includes redirects. Google has specific best practices for pulling email from other accounts, so setting up forwarders in other SMTP servers to shovel all mail over to Google addresses will simply count as spam.
  • Follow the bulk mail guidelines.
  • Pull, don’t push.
    • Meaning import messages or set Google to pull from third party, don’t forward to Google automatically. (Manual forwarding to share information is perfectly fine.)
  • Use SPF records.
    • SPF records are great added security and verification.
  • Change your passwords frequently.
    • Remember, passwords are vital and knowing the best practices for safe passwords is very important.
  • Watch for, and read, bounceback emails.

Following the few suggestions above will keep your SMTP server healthy and happy. When all information intended for Google is pulled via their methods, the likeliness of being blocked for false positives (meaning blocked for legitimate practices done incorrectly) will go down exponentially.

 

Change Primary Domain in WHM

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If you use multiple aliases ( previously called parked domains) within a cPanel account, you may find yourself wanting to change the main domain used for the cPanel account containing these domains. Changing the primary domain is desirable for multiple reasons and many times occurs when the site in use switches from one TLD to another (i.e., .net to .com). You may desire to change this if the name of your company or site Continue reading “Change Primary Domain in WHM”

A Beginner’s Guide to Managed WordPress

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Thank you for choosing Managed WordPress at Liquid Web! We hope this guide will help you get started in making the most of your experience with the Managed WordPress Portal. There are some great features in the portal, and we’ve worked hard to make sure site maintenance is a cinch. Continue reading “A Beginner’s Guide to Managed WordPress”

What is Power DNS?

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PowerDNS (pdns) is an open source authoritative DNS server that works as an alternative to traditional BIND (named) DNS. PowerDNS offers better performance and has minimal memory requirements. PowerDNS also works with many supporting backends ranging from simple zone files to complex database setups as well as various SQL platforms (Mysql, MariaDB, Oracle, PostgreSQL). Continue reading “What is Power DNS?”