UPDATE: This article shows that DNS Made Easy has the fastest response time of all managed DNS solutions available.
I saw the DNSMadeEasy.com free trial and jumped on it. We used them at my job this past summer, so I had experience with their API (which tragically isn’t available to the low-end tier…alas).
For those who aren’t nerds, DNS is the service that translates a domain name (axfp.org) to an Internet Protocol Address (IP address, like 126.96.36.199, the address of my EC2 instance that hosts this site).
It’s pretty simple to run on your server. I’m not sure how recursion would work (using my server as the nameserver for itself…? how did they bootstrap this system?). So I use external services. I used my domain registrar (DreamHost.com), which provides a lot of access to DNS. The problems:
- Dreamhost has a recently established history of excessive downtime
- Dreamhost is dumb. It’s not setup to do completely seperate DNS. It’s setup to do DNS for their hosting service and maybe a couple of subdomains for your own use.
- The DNS page has a warning trying to lead the heathens away from the page “Don’t touch this if you don’t know what this is!”
- Though it has a DNS API, it does not support changing the TTL (time to live) of the record from it’s default of 4 hours
The advantages to DNSMadeEasy are:
- You can adjust the TTL
- You can set basically any record you want and it doesn’t do anything automatically.
- It has support for ANAME records (a proprietary but awesome feature).
- It has a easier Dynamic DNS API
- Built in domain redirects without a bunch of added crap (dreamhost automatically adds 6 random DNS records when you enable a redirect on your root domain…)
The only disadvantage: $30/year. I’ll take it.
The ANAME Record
Often times you wish to CNAME the root of a website to a server. For example, my server in my dorm has dynamic DHCP from my university (God bless university internet–150 mbps up/down and full IP address for all your devices). My dorm server automatically updates t.axfp.org to its current Tufts address.
The problem is, because of the requirements of DNS, CNAME records are not supported on the root address.
Enter the ANAME Record!
The ANAME record basically tells DNSMadeEasy to periodically (quickly I hope?) query a domain for it’s A record. It then automatically updates that “ANAME” record to that IP address (basically setting an A record dynamically based on another domain. Very slick, very useful!
The Bottom Line
For a reasonable fee, DNSMadeEasy allows you to run DNS in a way that isn’t terrible. I’m sold.