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Using DNS Records: A, CNAME, and MX

DNS records
Sometimes managing a domain involves more than simply pointing the nameserver entries to your new web host’s servers. You might also need custom DNS records. For example, if you use cloud services, such as Google’s e-mail and applications services, you will need to configure your DNS records. Three common record types you will see are A, CNAME, and MX.

An “A” record, as the name implies, is the primary record. “A” stands for address, and it is used to map hostnames to IP addresses. For example, yourdomain.com would be mapped to 55.555.555.555. That IP address is your site’s IP address, either a unique one or a shared one provided by your web hosting provider.

“CNAME” stands for canonical name. While a domain can only have one “A” record, it can have multiple “CNAME” records. Each one represents an alias. This is the one that is usually used by cloud services to map one or more of your subdomains to their services, while keeping your “A” record pointing to your host’s IP address.

“MX” stands for mail exchange record. Simply put, it identifies your mail server. Usually, you would list the IP addresses provided by your web host here, but if you are using external mail services, just follow the directions that your service gives you.

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