One of the most confusing things about websites is the Domain Name System (DNS). Most people have no idea what it is, how it works, or that it is a critical part of every website you visit, app you download and show you stream. DNS makes most of the “magic” of the internet possible (or at least more user friendly).

If you can’t remember the last time you typed 172.217.20.78 instead of Google.com, you can thank DNS for that!

What is DNS?

DNS is essentially a massive global phone book that allows your computer to translate (domain) names into numbers (IP addresses). Unlike the massive phone books that used to be delivered to your doorstep, DNS is decentralized — meaning there are thousands of name servers around the world that each have a portion of the whole picture and must ask other servers for the information they lack, enabling you to be able to visit any website in the world in the blink of an eye.

Why your Registrar Probably shouldn’t also be your DNS Provider

Most people host DNS at their Domain Registrar (Network Solutions, Register.com, GoDaddy, etc) because it’s included in their domain registration.

However, this is generally not the best place to host your DNS, for several reasons:

  1. You’re putting all your eggs in one basket — avoiding a single point of failure is always wisest in terms of  disaster recovery. If your registrar has a bad day, it’s good to have your DNS hosted somewhere else so it doesn’t feel the impact of your registrar’s bad day!
  2. Many registrars offer basic service only, and many have very slow updates — meaning your website is down for longer when changes are made, migrations happen, etc.
  3. Some registrars charge you extra for features you can get free elsewhere.
  4. Slow DNS lookups reduce your page speed, which is a ranking factor for Google (and fast pages keep users browsing your site vs. a competitors).

The Good News

You can have better DNS, for free, at Cloudflare.

  • CloudFlare DNS is free and fully featured — offering some features you can’t even buy elsewhere.
  • CloudFlare DNS is some of the fastest on the web, which means faster site speeds and faster DNS change propagation.
  • Having different registrars and DNS providers diversifies your vendors to remove single points of failure.
  • Cloudflare Proxy (optional): Adding the Cloudflare Proxy allows us to block bad bot and other abusive traffic before it ever reaches your server. This will improve your admin experience and user site speed… and allows you to avoid an unnecessary hosting upgrade due to increased traffic hits caused by the abusive traffic.

Security is the Killer Feature

The BEST feature of Cloudflare is the improved security while sharing access with your developer (whether it’s LuminFire or someone else).

  • Forget sharing your main account login (which includes purchasing power) with your developer — developers don’t need that depth of power. All developers need is access so they can make changes as needed without asking you to learn DNS.
  • Generally means lower cost for future DNS changes, as less coordination is needed to make changes and fewer mistakes need to be cleaned up.
  • Enhanced security since it allows separate, unique logins for developers and uses a fantastically strong password and two factor authentication on the account.

Getting Started for LuminFire Clients

  • Create a free Cloudflare account if you don’t already have one.
  • Add LuminFire to the account with developer access using [email protected] as the email address.
  • Let us know so we can accept the invite!
  • Confirm if you’ll be migrating your DNS records/name servers to Cloudflare, or if you’d like our assistance with that.

Prefer that someone else manage all this for you?

We can help with Domain Registration and Management as well.

Still have questions?

Contact us and we’ll be happy to answer them.

Nick Ciske

Nick Ciske – CTO / CISO

Nick has a degree in Multimedia Design and over 20 years of experience working in web development and digital media. In his career he’s built or rebuilt just about every kind of website, including many content management systems (before WordPress), several custom e-commerce systems, and hundreds of websites.