I’ll try and keep this simple, the reasons for this post are that I had to go through the process of switching my free secondary DNS provider and help a friend using their services to do the same. Since he had no clue about DNS I had to explain to him so I thought: why not write it down.
I like to register my domains at the top level to avoid middle men. Middle men make domains cheaper and easier to register but they add dependency on their services. If you want to move your domain to another registrar or another host in case you were hosting with the same company they can put all sorts of obstacles into your path. Registering directly at the top level eliminates these possible issues but puts the responsibility of properly managing your domain on your shoulders.
I use my root server as primary NS for my domains and formerly www.everydns.com, a free DNS service, as secondary NS. Unfortunately everydns has been bought by DynDNS which offers a great migration tool but asks for a migration fee and after the migration tells you that there are no free plans for this service, only paid ones. I don’t mind paying for useful services but I’d like to know about it beforehand. Due to these circusmtances I ended up searching for other free NS providers and found this great list offree DNS providers. I checked a few and settled on using http://www.buddyns.com. Obviously I haven’t tested all of them but I liked the simplicity of buddyNS. Mind that I only needed a secondary NS provider as my root server is functioning as the primary one.
If you are checking out the list I linked to or comparing other providers you should check for the following criteria:
- Primary NS
- Secondary NS
- DNS software
Of course it is quite obvious that you should check what services they provide: primary and / or secondary NS but I thought I’d mention those criterias anyway.
The location of the name servers are not that important but I would aim for them to be close to the target audience of the domain I am using these NS for since the closer the servers are to the visitor, the less time is spent looking the info up but since most servers and routers are using caches and we are talking about milliseconds anyway, I suggest you focus more on the question of: are you comfortable with the location fo the servers or are there any related laws of that country you are not happy with and are the servers located in a proper data center with fail-safe measurements in place to guarantee its continued and undisturbed service?
The DNS software is not really an issue to you as it doesn’t matter what software runs their service but I listed it so you can at least satisfy your curiosity.
Most important are the limitations placed upon the free service. You should check if these:
- limit the number of domains you are allowed to use the service on for free
- limit the number of allowed monthly queries
- impose any other relevant policies
The setup with buddyNS was quite easy and should be the same for other providers:
- they provide you with secondary NS entries you need to enter when registering your domain
- you then need to enable communication between your primary NS and your new provider’s secondary NS
- you need to add the secondary NS on your primary NS too