By now most people have either experienced some pain with or have heard about the apparent Denial of Service attack that took GoDaddy’s Domain Name Servers (DNS) offline for several hours on 9/10/2012. If not, here are a few links to the story at Wired, CNN, and FoxNews. Many small businesses use Domain Name Registrar’s like GoDaddy.com to maintain the registration of their domain names AND provide other services such as Domain Name Services (DNS), Web Hosting, and Email.
One of the most-critical underlying services that makes the Internet work is DNS. Domain Name Servers are the phonebooks of the internet; they translate human-readable Universal Resource Locators (example – www.google.com) into Internet Protocol Addresses (example – 188.8.131.52). Both types of addresses will take you to the same place, but most services are not accessed directly by their IP Address and rely on DNS to look up the correct IP Address. DNS also provides another mission-critical service: Mail Exchanger (MX) Records. These records tell other mail servers on the internet where to deliver inbound email for the domain. No DNS = no email = big problem!
Until yesterday, GoDaddy’s Registrar, DNS, and Web Hosting services have been stellar. At SiteVentures, we have managed all of our clients’ domain names with GoDaddy for 10+ years and this is the first major outage I can recall.
We also use Dyn.com to provide mission-critical DNS for the domains powering our Virtual Private Cloud servers and our Cloud Phone System. We use Dyn’s DynECT Managed DNS service for our clients’ critical domains as well. After yesterday’s outage, more businesses who rely on GoDaddy for all services probably feel like their website and email services are more critical now and will want to take advantage of a higher-class, redundant DNS service like those offered by Dyn.
There is a significant advantage to NOT having the DNS service for your domain with the Registrar. The Name Server (NS) records for a domain are published by the Registrar and point the internet to the proper DNS Servers for the domain. These records are normally set to last 24-48 hours. This means that even if the Registrar has an outage, the rest of the Internet still knows where to look for your DNS service for 24-48 hours – enough time for the Registrar to recover. Conversely, if the DNS Server is out for an extended period of time, you can point the Name Server (NS) records with the Registrar to an alternate DNS provider.
In summary, it’s better not to have all your eggs in one basket. If the Registrar/DNS/Web/Email provider is having a bad day you have no options for recovery and you’re at their mercy. Best practices are to use one provider for Domain Name Registration, another for DNS, another for Web Hosting, and yet another for Email. This gives you the most options for recovery in the event of an outage with any one provider.