DNS (Domain Name System) Settings

If you aren't familiar with the term DNS, or Domain Name System, think of it like the telephone book of the internet, translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses.

Technically speaking, DNS is a hierarchical naming system built on a distributed database for computers, services, or any resource connected to the internet or a private network. This means that the database that matches domain names with IP addresses has a tree structure, where lower-level DNS servers have the most specific IP information and higher-level DNS servers (or root servers) have information about lower-level DNS servers.

Your domain's DNS is comprised of many different types of records such as Address (A) records, Name Server (NS) records, and Mail Exchange (MX) records for your domain.

You can find a simple introduction to DNS and DNS records at Google Apps. You can find a more extensive article on Wikipedia.

Contents

Getting Started

When you register a domain name, your registrar allows you to specify the party that will host the related DNS records. If you specify Volusion as your DNS host, you can link your domain name with your Volusion store. One of the most important DNS records for this matching process is a Name Server (NS) Records. Name server records are used to point a root domain name at a site’s name servers – which contain information about the numerical identifiers (IP address locations).

At a very basic level, DNS works like this:

  • A customer enters your domain name (e.g. www.myvolusionstore.com) into their web browser
  • The customer's computer network sends a DNS request to Volusion's name servers
  • Volusion's name servers looks up the records stored for www.myvolusionstore.com, finds the IP address of your store, and sends it to the customer's computer
  • The customer can now see your store's homepage

The entire name server query process, which allows your domain name to access your storefront, is actually much more complicated, but the exchange of information takes a fraction of a second and is invisible to the visitor.

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Configuring Your Domain for Use With Your Volusion Store

Depending on where you purchased your domain name and whether or not your Volusion store will use a subdomain, the instructions for configuring your domain to load your Volusion storefront will vary.

Once you purchase a domain from a third-party registrar, you’ll need to forward it to Volusion before you can configure your store to use it.

Contact your registrar – the company you originally purchased your domain name from – and either navigate through their control panel to locate the DNS settings or contact the registrar directly for assistance. There are four name servers you need to point to:

  • NS1.VOLUSION.COM
  • NS2.VOLUSION.COM
  • NS3.VOLUSION.COM
  • NS4.VOLUSION.COM

Note that if your domain registrar only provides two fields for name servers, you should enter "NS3.VOLUSION.COM" and "NS4.VOLUSION.COM".

Pointing a Subdomain

If you’re using a subdomain name such as "store.mydomainname.com" or "shop.mydomainname.com", you will only point the subdomain at Volusion, not your root domain. This means that you should not edit the name server records for your domain (unlike above).

To point your subdomain, create a CNAME record for your desired subdomain. The record name will be "store," "shop," etc., depending on the desired name of your subdomain. The record type will be CNAME. The hostname of the new record (or the URL where the CNAME should point) should be the temporary hostname of your store.

The formatting of this URL will be "xxxxx.xxxxx.servertrust.com" (do not include an "@" symbol) and can be found in your store's Admin Area by going to Settings > Company and looking in the Domain Name dropdown for your Temporary Hostname URL.

Note that some registrars require a trailing period after the URL to which a CNAME is pointing. For example, you would need to enter:

xxxxx.xxxxx.servertrust.com.

rather than:

xxxxx.xxxxx.servertrust.com

A newly created subdomain typically resolves in 2-4 hours, but in some cases can take up to 24 hours.

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After Pointing Your Domain at Volusion

On average, it takes around 24-72 hours for name server and other DNS record changes to propagate.

Once you've pointed the DNS with your registrar and waited the necessary propagation time, you can configure your Volusion store to resolve to your domain name as follows:

  1. Go to Settings > Company in your Admin Area.
  2. Under Company Information, select your store's domain name from the Domain Name menu.
  3. Click Save.

When you point your DNS at Volusion, you will be able to type in your domain and view your storefront, but the URL will still show your Temporary Hostname address. By changing this setting in your Admin Area, the URL in your browser will begin to display your domain name.

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Finding and Editing DNS Records When Volusion Hosts Your DNS

  1. Go to my.volusion.com and log in, or point to your administrative account name in your Admin Area and click My Volusion.
  2. Click Manage DNS and, if necessary, select the appropriate domain from the Choose a Domain menu.
  3. Make the appropriate changes or additions to the My Volusion DNS Records table.
  4. Click Save.

Keep in mind that changes made to your DNS records may take 24-72 hours to propagate.

How do I know if Volusion hosts my DNS?

If Volusion does not host your DNS, you will see a yellow shaded message on your DNS management page. In order to point your domain at your Volusion storefront and use your DNS management page to edit your DNS records, you will need to use the instructions above to change your name servers with your domain registrar.

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Default DNS Records in Volusion

Note that in the DNS settings, "@" represents your domain name (for example, yourdomain.com).

‘A’ Records

A records are used to point a domain name or subdomain to a static IP address. An A record can only point to an IP address; it cannot point to another domain name.

Volusion IP addresses are subject to change periodically. If your DNS is hosted with Volusion, the IP address on your A record will be updated automatically with no manual action required on your part. If your DNS is hosted externally, then you will need to update your A record to point at the new IP whenever it changes.

‘MX’ Records

MX (Mail Exchange) records are used to route email sent to your domain name. The Record Name field contains the domain name that appears in the email address. Again, keep in mind that the "@" symbol in DNS settings represents your domain (for example, yourdomain.com). The Hostname field (or Data field) of an MX record contains the host name of the server where mail should be delivered.

Below, you will see that the default mail servers for Volusion are MX3.VOLUSION.COM and MX4.VOLUSION.COM. If you've added email hosting to your monthly plan, leave the mail servers with the default settings below and configure your @domain.com emails through myVolusion.

See How to Connect to Your Volusion Email Account for more information on using Volusion as your email host.

Record Name

Record Type

Hostname

@

MX (Priority 10)

mx3.volusion.com

@

MX (Priority 10)

mx4.volusion.com

Your MX records should only be changed if you are using a third-party email host. For more information, see How to Use a Third-Party Email Host With Volusion.

You can specify a Priority when you set up an MX record to determine the order in which mail servers are tried. Email for Volusion stores is hosted with Rackspace, and the default Rackspace priorities are both 10. Other email hosts may have more than 2 MX records, or may have many different priorities to configure. You should check with the email provider for these settings.

You may have an extra MX record that points to mx1.emailsvr.com. This was used for email hosting transition several years ago, but is no longer used and can be ignore or deleted.

‘CNAME’ Records

CNAME records, also known as alias records, are used to point a subdomain to an already existing A record.

Record Name

Record Type

Hostname

FTP

CNAME

@

Mail

CNAME

webmail.volusion.com

www

CNAME

@

The FTP record is used to set up an address for you to connect to when you want to transfer files to your domain using an FTP application or service. In most cases, there is no reason to change it from ftp.mydomain.com.

The Mail record is used to give you access to the Volusion webmail service from webmail.mydomain.com. You can change the hostname here to assign webmail.mydomain.com to a third-party web mail provider if you wish.

The www record is used to set up your domain alias. This cannot be edited.

You can use CNAME records to set up subdomains such as blog.mydomain.com. Adding a CNAME record for a subdomain is an easy way to create a memorable web address for unique content pages for your site. For example, Volusion's support site is found at a "support" subdomain: support.volusion.com. For information on adding a blog to your store, please see How to Set Up a Blog for Your Volusion Store

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Additional Record Types

SPF Records

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) records are used as an email validation system to prevent email spam by verifying sender IP addresses. Adding an SPF record allows domain administrators to specify which hosts are allowed to send mail from a given domain by creating a specific SPF record. Many mail services will check the SPF record to verify that mail from a given domain is being sent by a host that has been verified by the domain administrator.

By having an SPF record, mail recipients can authorize which external hosts are permitted to use your name as the "MAIL FROM" identity during a mail transaction. Email marketing partners may want you to set up their host name or IP address here. They should be able to tell you exactly what to enter here. For complete information see RFC 4408.

TXT Records

Text (TXT) Records are used to store supplemental information (in ASCII text) about your domain. TXT records do not affect where your DNS is pointed, and are just a means to store information about your domain for future reference.

Formerly, the information that is now validated with the above SPF record was a TXT record. Information that can be stored in a TXT record includes your administrator-authorized IP address and information about you, the domain owner.

You will need to create a TXT record if you are setting up various Google accounts, for example, and need to verify site ownership. Full details, including the text that needs to be entered, will be provided by Google or whoever requests that you add this record.

Note on SPF and TXT Records in Volusion

When entering an SPF or TXT record at myVolusion > Manage DNS, you must wrap all text in the Hostname field in quotation marks. For example, your SPF Hostname field should be entered as "v=spf1 include:emailsrvr.com include:smtp5.volusion.com ~all".

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Name Server (NS) Records

A Name Server (NS) record is used to point a domain name at a name server. A name server is a server that contains a directory which maps human-recognizable identifiers (domain names) with the available numeric IP addresses to match with those domain names.

For Volusion stores, the four Volusion name servers are NS1.VOLUSION.COM, NS2.VOLUSION.COM, NS3.VOLUSION.COM, and NS4.VOLUSION.COM. These name servers contain the information about the IP addresses for all Volusion stores.

Once your domain's Name Servers are pointed at Volusion (and propagated), a user can type your domain name into their browser, and the authoritative name servers will be queried about the IP location of your Volusion store. The authoritative name servers will match your store's domain name with your store's IP location. The user will see the associated Volusion storefront for your domain name.

Finding Name Server Records

All name server (NS) records must be edited from your domain registrar's platform (not from myVolusion). The name server fields are typically available within a section that contains all DNS records. If you're unable to locate these records within your domain registrar account, we recommend contacting your registrar for assistance or reading any available help resources to locate the information.

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Summary

Though DNS settings and changes can seem intimidating, Volusion makes it as simple as possible by automating the process of pointing the records in your DNS for you. Before troubleshooting DNS issues, be sure to wait the 24-72 hour propagation period to see if your domain is simply slow to resolve.

During the initial period after a name server change, it's not uncommon (depending on their location and what ISP they are using) for some customers to successfully reach the new location while others may still find the domain to resolve to the old location (if any). This is because the time it takes for news of a name server change to reach all DNS servers worldwide varies.

If you continue to have issues with DNS propagation or figuring out your DNS settings, reach out to Volusion Support for assistance.