GoDaddy DNS and Domain Connect

An open-source protocol

Let’s talk about DNS and Domain Connect. DNS stands for the Domain Name System. It is a core part of the internet. But people often don’t consider it and why it is important.

What is DNS

So what is DNS?

You can think of DNS like a phone book. When you want to call someone, you need to know their phone number. So you grab the phone book (OK, we tend to look this up on the internet now but the analogy will suffice), find the person’s name, and get the phone number and address. Now you can punch in numbers and make the phone call.

DNS performs a similar role.

It is the phone book that maps the domain name to the data required to interact with services for the domain.

 

When you type in example.com in your web browser, your system needs to know the IP address of the server where the content for example.com is hosted. Once it looks up the address in DNS, it can fetch the content.

Of course DNS isn’t just used for looking up the IP address of a website.

As additional services are enabled, it is used for looking up email servers, email delivery options, voice endpoints and more. The entire collection of data associated with a domain in DNS is referred to as the zone of the domain.

DNS is distributed; not everything is in the same phone book. This is by design and allows a great deal of scale on the internet. As such, each domain can have its data on a different server. The server hosting DNS data for a domain is identified by its nameserver.

Related: DNS records — A beginner’s guide

There are additional DNS resolution components

But wait a second … how does the browser know which nameserver to query when looking up example.com? Good question.

First, technically speaking, the web browser doesn’t typically do the lookup. It usually talks to something called a DNS Resolver which actually does the lookup. But this doesn’t change the core question; it just changes the wording. How does the resolver know which nameserver to query when looking up example.com?

Key to this is something called the root server. The root server for a top-level domain (TLD) is established at a well-known location. Coming back to our example of example.com, a DNS query is first performed to the rootserver for “.com” to find the location of the nameserver for example.com. Once this is determined, the resolver can query the nameserver for example.com to find the data it needs.

GoDaddy and domain management

When you buy a domain from GoDaddy (and with most other domain registrars), you are typically given DNS service for free with the domain. You’ll see this as the nameservers (there are always two of them) associated with the domain.

Most domain registrars, including GoDaddy, allow you to change the nameservers to values you select.

There isn’t anything wrong with this. Advanced users often have legitimate reasons to change their nameservers.

However, we believe for the average user that this is not something that should be casually done.

 

Things can easily break when changing the nameserver. And like any application, the service quality will vary from one DNS provider to another.

When managing DNS, things like performance, uptime, security and scalability come into play. What about features and ease of use? And finally, if something goes wrong, is help available to resolve the problem?

We think our DNS is pretty good. After all, we’ve been at it a pretty long time. We run the largest DNS on the planet, distributed around the world. A query is fast no matter where you are located, and our uptime is great.

So performance? Uptime? Scalability? Check.

What about security? Unfortunately with the number of zones on our platform we are often targeted with large scale DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attacks. We take this very seriously, and have put in place multiple levels of protection to mitigate these. And you can protect your account with multi-factor (including hardware based) authentication.

What about features and ease of use?

GoDaddy DNS supports DNSSEC (this makes your zone more secure), including one-click activation and automatic key rollovers. We are committed to being open, supporting import from and export to the industry-recognized BIND format.

We also think our user experience is simple and intuitive.

DNS and Domain Connect

We also know that customers buy services attached to their domain from multiple companies. So we pioneered the Domain Connect protocol.

Domain Connect makes it easy to set up and configure these services with a simple click, so you don’t need to know the details of the records in the zone in DNS.

 

But we didn’t stop there. While working on DNS and Domain Connect, we open sourced Domain Connect — allowing our partners and competitors to benefit from it as well. It has been adopted by almost 50 companies, including Microsoft, Google, 1&1, Squarespace and more. (Ask yourself the following question: “Does the new nameserver provider support Domain Connect when you buy a second or third service?”)

Additionally, if you need help, GoDaddy’s 24/7 phone support is always a call away and ready to help resolve or fix any problems you have.

We are committed to allowing users to move their nameservers, but want to make sure they do so for the right reasons. DNS is hard; and we’ve taken many steps to make it easy. A lot can go wrong with DNS, and moving your nameserver can be risky if you don’t know what you are doing.

Arnold Blinn
As the Chief Product Architect, Arnold Blinn is responsible for the high level architecture and integration of GoDaddy’s systems including the products, the platforms, and incorporating acquisitions. Prior to GoDaddy Arnold spent almost 17 years as a Partner Architect at Microsoft in a variety of divisions. These included Windows Phone, Xbox Live, MSN/Windows Live, and Commerce Server.