Should you use 2 dns providers on your website?

When you have a website and you look inside the dns entries you may see multiple lines but for most websites all those entries are the same company. Most people don’t change them unless they want to move their dns to another provider, or they want to have multiple dns providers. But why do some sites do that but others don’t?

Many sites don’t do it because it’s different.

It does take time to find the right second dns provider and set up both dns providers.

This is because some dns providers don’t support having a second dns, or don’t want to be the second dns. So this requires research and looking around at multiple companies to see what they offer. The reason I know it’s difficult is because I ran into difficulties setting it up for this website.

Many websites also don’t do this because it only helps someone who is visiting your website for the first time.

After someone goes to your site for the first time the dns results get stored (they get stored with the dns provider your visitor is using). But it can be very helpful for a website who gets lot people coming to their site for the first time.

Most website owners (or companies) don’t think about their dns provider going down and don’t want to think about or cost of, setting up a second dns provider.

Now why should you use multiple dns providers?

When that one company goes down then the entire website is down with no way to reach it. Moving the dns to another company lessen the chance of the entire website being down.

One dns provider may be better than the other.

For example, your website host may have servers that handle their dns but they also process your website and every other website on the server, and by adding a second dns provider you can make it faster for someone to get to your website.

How is it faster?

Say you decided to use Hurricane Electric’s DNS, they have tons of servers around the world and they make sure they have processing power and tons of bandwidth for your dns. Especially if you choose a company that already has many websites using it for their dns, it will make a ton faster to find where your server is and tell your visitors. Because the entry will be stored in the server that serves dns.

Does location matter?

Location does matter, because you could have a new visitor to your site from the other side of the world and if all your dns records are stored in your country then they almost have to go to the other side of the world just to get your dns records then bring them back which will add time. But if your dns provider has a location in the same country then it will make it faster for them to see your website. Usually the more locations the better, but you want locations that are spread across the world, not just in highly populated areas.

You may also want to use multiple dns providers because it provides a challenge for you. You get to learn more about your dns providers, what dns company you should use for a secondary, how to set up a secondary dns.

There is a major reason why most people don’t do this, because they don’t think their dns provider will never go down.

Dyn, Akkamai, Amazon, Cloudflare have all been down at one point. Every company will experience an outage at one time, no company can guarantee 100% uptime, and even 99.99% uptime is down around 52 minutes per year. A secondary dns will keep your website up as long as the hosting is still up.

What company should you use for the secondary dns?

You want to look for a company that offers secondary dns (some companies call it backup dns), along with their pricing, and any other features you want. You should also make sure that the company you are currently using as your dns let’s you have a secondary dns, as some don’t (also known as having a slave dns). If you don’t know what company to choose then you can do a search for secondary website dns (or also known as backup or slave dns) and you’ll find a list of different companies.

After you setup your secondary dns it will take time before the world knows about that secondary dns. Some website professionals say it’s because of propagation, which is technically incorrect. You are waiting for the dns entries to expire. Within dns there is a ttl (time to live) which tells every dns provider how long to hold the results before requesting a new one. When that expires it goes to the company you use for dns and requests the list again. It also won’t be complete within 48 hours since each company can decide on their own how long to hold the results for. Instead of rewriting what Julia Evans has wrote about this I would encourage you to read her post on this on her website.

Now with your second dns provider set up, people to your website will appreciate how much faster it is. While they may not directly thank you, they most likely will notice it.

This is post number 83 as part of 100 Days To Offload.


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