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      Register Custom DNS Name Servers


      DNS name servers (also referenced as the single word nameservers) are the backbone of the Domain Name System. They are the servers that host a domain’s DNS records, which map human-readable domain names to IP addresses.

      When registering a new domain or configuring an existing domain, you must set the FQDN (fully qualified domain name) of each name server you intend to use. This is done through your domain’s registrar. You can typically chose to use your registrar’s name servers, a third party name server, or a self-hosted name server. If you decide to use your registrar’s DNS service or a third party DNS service, that service provides you with the FQDNs for its name servers. For example, the name servers for Linode’s
      DNS Manager are ns1.linode.com through ns5.linode.com.

      If you instead decide to use your own custom name servers, you first need to create glue records on your registrar for the FQDN you wish to use with each name server. In tandem with glue records, you must also set corresponding A records with your domain’s DNS records. The last step is to configure your domain to use your new custom name servers.

      1. Configure Glue Records
      2. Create A Records
      3. Change the Name Servers for Your Domains

      This guide covers how to register a custom name server and assumes you have already configured a self-hosted DNS software on each system you intend to use.

      Before You Begin

      • You must have at least one registered domain name and be able to access the domain’s registrar. Within this domain name, determine the FQDNs you’d like to use for your custom name servers. Many applications and registrars require at least two name servers and they are typically formatted as ns1.example.com, ns2.example.com, and so on, replacing example.com with the domain you’d like to use.

      • For each name server you wish to configure, deploy your preferred DNS software on a Compute Instance or any publicly accessible server. If you are using cPanel, Plesk, or other software that automatically configures your DNS software, make sure it is properly installed.

      Why Use Custom Name Servers?

      Third-party DNS services, like Linode’s DNS Manager, are very reliable, feature-rich, highly available, and protected against attacks. For most applications, these services are preferable to self-hosting custom name servers. As with many custom self-hosted solutions, the effort to build and maintain a custom DNS name server might not be worthwhile. That said, there are some compelling reasons to chose self-hosting your own custom name servers over utilizing an existing DNS service.

      • Software integration: Many popular self-hosted software solutions, including cPanel and Plesk, can deploy their own custom name servers to automatically manage DNS records. When a user makes a change in the software, the associated DNS records are automatically created or updated without a user needing to manually configure them.

      • Greater control: A primary reason for using any self-hosted solution is to gain more granular control over a system. In the case of name servers, you can use any
        name server software supported by your system and take advantage of all of its features.

      • Vanity/Branded domain: Some third-party DNS services allow you to use your own domain instead of their standard name server domains for branding purposes, but not all have this feature. When self-hosting your own name servers, you can use whichever domain name you wish.

      Configure Glue Records

      When a domain name is resolved, your system’s DNS resolvers first query the root name server. The root then provides the name servers for the domain’s top-level domain (TLD), such as .com or .net. Then, a query is sent to the TLD name servers, which returns the authoritative name servers for the domains. The DNS resolver can then finally query an authoritative name server for the DNS record it needs. This works fine for most domain queries, such as when the DNS records for example.com are hosted on the name server ns1.linode.com. But this breaks down for name server domain resolution, where the record for ns1.example.com is hosted on the ns1.example.com authoritative name server.

      To overcome this circular resolution, glue records are needed. Glue records are set within the domain’s registrar and can map the custom domain of a name server to the IP address of that name server. To configure glue records, follow the instructions below.

      1. Obtain the public IPv4 addresses for each of your custom name servers. If they are hosted on a Linode Compute Instance, see
        Managing IP Addresses on a Compute Instance.

      2. Log in to your domain’s registrar.

      3. Configure a glue record for each custom name server. This maps the full domain of a name server to the IPv4 address for that server. The name of this feature and the instructions for setting a glue record depend on the registrar you are using. Here are the instructions for a few popular registrars, though any registrar that supports glue records can be used:

        Some registrars may require you enter the entire FQDN of the custom name server (such as ns1.example.com), while others only need the subdomain (such as ns1). Additionally, registrars like Namecheap pre-populate a dropdown list with common name server hostnames. In this case, you can likely select from the predefined list or type your own.

      After this is complete, your registrar sends the glue records to the TLD name servers associated with your domain. This process can take up to 24 hours to complete, though it is generally finished within a few minutes to an hour. See
      Verify DNS Changes.

      Create A Records

      In tandem with setting up glue records at the registrar-level, you should also create A records within your custom name servers itself. Many self-hosted software applications that manage DNS records, such as cPanel and Plesk, do this automatically – provided they are configured to use a self-managed DNS service. If this is the case, you can skip this section – even if you have yet to install the software.

      1. Log in to the administration panel or terminal for your DNS software on your custom name server.

      2. Within the domain zone file, add an A record for each custom name server. This record should point the hostname of the custom name server (such as ns1.example.com) to the IPv4 address of the name server.

      Since these steps vary greatly depending on your DNS software, please reference the official documentation for that software. For instance, for users of BIND9 (the most popular DNS software), see
      Configurations and Zone Files.

      DNS records can take up to 24 hours to fully propagate, depending on several factors – including the TTL setting, the DNS service you are using, and the caching system on the DNS resolver. In general, you can expect to see the updates within 5 minutes to an hour. See
      Verify DNS Changes.

      Change the Name Servers for Your Domains

      Once the custom name servers have been successfully registered, you can begin using them to host DNS records for your domains. To do this, add the domain inside your custom name server and then update the domain’s registrar to reflect the new authoritative name servers.

      1. Log in to your domain’s registrar.

      2. Update the domain’s name servers to use your new custom name servers (such as ns1.example.com and ns2.example.com). The name for this setting various among registrars, but it is commonly called external or custom name servers.

      After configuring the new authoritative name servers for a domain, they are sent to the TLD name servers associated with that domain. This process can take up to 24 hours to complete, though it is generally finished within a few minutes to an hour. See
      Verify DNS Changes.

      Verify DNS Changes

      Once you’ve made the changes that are needed, you can verify that the records are correct and have propagated to the appropriate servers by following the instructions below.

      1. Obtain the TLD name servers by running the following dig command, replacing com with the TLD for your domain.

        dig +short com NS
        

        This returns a list of TLD name servers.

      2. View the DNS records a particular TLD name server has for your domain by using the command below. Be sure to replace a.gtld-servers.net. with whichever TLD name server you wish to query (leaving the @ and trailing .) and example.com with your domain.

        dig +norec @a.gtld-servers.net. example.com
        
      3. To verify the glue records, examine the output’s ADDITIONAL section. There should be an A record for each of the glue records you’ve configured, pointing your custom name server domain to your IP address.

        ;; ADDITIONAL SECTION:
        ns2.example.com.	3600	IN	A	192.0.2.36
        ns1.example.com.	3600	IN	A	192.0.2.37

        If you do not see a similar output, you can query other TLD name servers. It may be that the changes have not yet propagated to all of them.

      4. To verify your domain is using your new name servers, examine the AUTHORITY section of the output. This should be a list of all NS (name server) records, which map your domain to one or more name servers. All of the name servers configured for your domain should appear here, though they are typically displayed in a somewhat random order.

        ;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
        example.com.		3600	IN	NS	ns2.example.com.
        example.com.		3600	IN	NS	ns1.example.com.
      5. Both the glue records and name servers can also be verified by running a dig +trace command, as shown below. Replace example.com with your domain and ns1.example.com with your custom name server. Repeat this command as needed for each name server.

        dig example.com +trace +additional | grep ns1.example.com
        

        Within the output, you should see at least one NS record that defines your custom name sever and an A record for your name server that points to the correct IP address of your server.

      6. The A records for your custom name server’s domain can be verified by running the following dig command, which confirms the changes have propagated to the DNS resolver used by your system. Replace ns1.example.com with the domain of your name server.

        dig ns1.example.com A +short
        

        This should output the IP address configured within the A record for that domain.



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      What Is a VPS? A Beginner’s Guide to Virtual Private Servers


      If you are finally ready to get your website up and running, it’s probably safe to say you’re looking into purchasing web hosting. And it’s a battlefield out here for beginners. There’s a glossary of new terms — what is a kernel?! — and acronyms seemingly dropping from the sky. One that you’ll hear a lot: VPS hosting.

      But fret not, beginner. This guide will answer all your burning Virtual Private Server questions:

      Ready to learn everything there is to know about a VPS hosting environment? Let’s dive in!

      What Is a Virtual Private Server?

      First, let’s define what VPS actually stands for — virtual private server.

      In layman’s terms, a server is a powerful computer that stores all of the data and files that make up your website. When someone types your domain name into their web browser, that powerful computer “serves up” your website to the searcher’s screen.

      Now for the virtual aspect: VPS uses virtualization technology to split that one powerful server we just talked about into multiple virtual servers. Think of it this way: it’s one piece of physical hardware that functions like several separate servers.

      The word private means just what it implies. Your virtual server is reserved for you, so you won’t have to share RAM, CPU, or any data with other users.

      How Does VPS Work?

      VPS Hosting simulates the experience of a dedicated server even though you’re still sharing the physical server with other users.

      Your web hosting provider installs a virtual layer on top of the operating system (OS) of the server using virtualization technology. Separating the server into individual compartments with virtual walls, this layer allows each user to install their own OS and software.

      Because a VPS separates your files from other users on the OS level, it truly is a private server. This means your website lives within a secure container with guaranteed server resources — think memory, disk space, CPU cores, etc. You don’t have to share any of it with others.

      How VPS Compares with Shared Hosting & Dedicated Hosting

      To truly understand how VPS works, it’s important to get familiar with some of the basics of web hosting, including other common plans. Here’s a brief breakdown of the differences between shared, dedicated, and VPS hosting.

      1. Shared Hosting

      Shared hosting is the most common form of web hosting and works well for many new website owners. When you purchase a shared hosting plan, you’re sharing key resources like CPU, RAM, and hard drive space with other website owners using that same server.

      Let’s use an analogy to make understanding this concept a little easier.

      Think of a shared server as a large apartment complex, and all of the individual apartments are rented by other website owners. All of you need a place to live — just like your website’s files — but going out to buy a huge family home would be too expensive for your needs. Sharing common areas and utilities in an apartment block helps keep costs down. And the same is true for shared hosting.

      There are a few downsides to shared hosting, though, mostly because you’re sharing. For instance, if someone else on your shared server has a huge spike in traffic, that could affect your website’s performance. However, if you’re just getting your website off the ground and don’t have huge traffic volume, shared hosting is a great way to get online!

      Looking for an entry-level plan? Check out our affordable shared hosting packages.

      2. Dedicated Hosting

      Dedicated hosting is the opposite of shared hosting. Rather than pooling resources (and sharing the costs) with other website owners, you have one dedicated server that is reserved for your website only.

      Sounds great, right? The catch is that it’s more expensive, but you get 100% control over your resources and can customize the software to meet your individual needs. This type of hosting package is best for websites with robust technical demands. For example, dedicated hosting could be right for you if:

      • you are getting large amounts of traffic each day.
      • you need to install your own operating system.
      • you are handling thousands of financial transactions.
      • your website requires custom software.

      Need a powerful solution? Check out our dedicated hosting plans.

      3. VPS Hosting

      VPS hosting sits squarely between shared and dedicated. When you choose VPS, there will be other websites hosted on the same hardware as yours (remember that powerful server we talked about earlier?).

      But — and it’s a big one — your website is the only domain allocated to your particular virtual compartment. And that means you get your own operating system, dedicated storage, powerful CPU, scalable RAM, and unlimited bandwidth.

      With a VPS, you are getting many of the benefits of a dedicated server — for an affordable price. In short, VPS hosting can give you more bang for your buck.

      We Know You’ve Got Lots of VPS Options

      At DreamHost, we’ve never been comfortable fitting in with the crowd. Here are a few ways our VPS offering stands apart: 24/7 customer support, an intuitive panel, scalable RAM, unlimited bandwidth, and SSD storage. Plans start at $10/mo.

      When Should You Switch to VPS?

      The best way to evaluate whether or not you need to upgrade to VPS is to take stock of your website. Here are eight tell-tale signs it’s time to go virtual.

      1. You’re Worried About Security

      If you need enhanced security features, advanced monitoring capabilities, more backup space, improved website reliability, or plan on taking any form of online payment, then you may want to consider VPS. With VPS, you get reliable resources and can count on top-notch security features.

      2. You Start to Experience High Traffic Volumes

      If you are just starting your website and don’t receive very much traffic, then shared hosting is the ideal solution. However, if your website’s audience is consistently growing, you’ll want to consider upgrading. You don’t want to run the risk of your website running slowly or, even worse, your server crashing because it can’t handle the traffic. If you anticipate an increase in visitors, do yourself a favor and switch to VPS.

      3. Your Website is Consistently Running Slowly

      Shared hosting is not meant for websites that use large amounts of RAM. As your website grows and you add more and more content, you will start to see a decrease in your website’s load times. As soon as this happens, it’s an indication that you are maxing out your limits. Upgrading to a VPS will enable you to scale your website without having to worry about slow load times.

      4. You Have An Online Store

      The moment you plan on running an online store is the moment you should upgrade your hosting plan. Why? Because with VPS, you have a secure and dedicated virtual server where you are more likely to pass a PCI compliance test. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard was established by major credit card brands to protect against cardholder data theft.

      If you are accepting credit cards on your website via a payment gateway, you want to do everything you can to ensure the safety of your consumers’ financial information. Since VPS is more secure than shared hosting, it’s the better option for ecommerce websites.

      5. You Need To Install Custom Software

      Shared hosting is great for website owners who build their site with WordPress or other common Content Management Systems. However, if you reach the point where you need to install custom software, use a custom server configuration, or engage in any other advanced programming, then you’ll want a hosting option that affords you more control.

      Similarly, several standard tax, billing, bookkeeping, and other integrative programs require around-the-clock server availability as well as high-speed internet. To run these applications successfully, you’ll need either a VPS or dedicated hosting account.

      If you operate on a shared server, you’ll only run into frustration when you learn advanced actions are forbidden or that apps don’t have the support needed to function properly. Instead of dealing with this potential problem, upgrade to VPS hosting and immediately gain more control over your programming actions.

      6. You Run Into Server Errors

      Do you encounter “Service Unavailable” errors, any 50X errors, or the “Internal Server Error” often? When you see errors, it’s likely that your potential customers are too. While you can troubleshoot downtime issues, there is simply no room for server errors if you’re running an online business. Pre-empt this problem by upgrading to VPS.

      7. You’re on a Budget

      While it’s true that a dedicated hosting package can address many of the problems on this list, it’s important to remember that a dedicated plan is a much pricier option. If you need to improve your bandwidth, increase your security, and get more RAM, then the most affordable option is to opt for VPS hosting.

      8. You Build Websites For Your Clients

      Is it part of your job to build websites for your clients? With a VPS, you can host an unlimited number of domains all while making sure you have enough RAM for each site to function properly.

      What Is VPS?

      Good question! We regularly report on all things web hosting and tech. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you never miss an article.

      How to Choose the Best VPS Hosting Plan for Your Website?

      Now that you know what a VPS is and when you should upgrade, let’s talk about what makes a great VPS plan and how to find the best web hosting provider. After all, you wouldn’t trust your website with just anybody, right?

      Self-Managed Versus Managed VPS Services

      When selecting VPS hosting, you usually have two plan options:

      1. Self-managed VPS service (sometimes called unmanaged VPS)
      2. Managed VPS service

      You need to be familiar with server administration, troubleshooting, and managing the applications, software, and services installed on your VPS if you choose a self-managed service.

      If you are either unfamiliar with these admin skills or you just want your hosting company to take care of it for you, then opting for a managed VPS plan is the way to go.

      All of DreamHost’s VPS plans are fully managed, meaning you can skip worrying about the nitty-gritty technical details and focus on what really matters: creating great content for your website. If you’re looking for root access, though, consider opting for DeamHost’s cloud hosting.

      Linux/Windows

      You might think this tip might fall into the obvious category, but it’s worth sharing: Make sure the hosting package you select is compatible with your operating system. DreamHost, for instance, doesn’t offer Windows hosting since most of our users prefer to run a Linux VPS.

      Reliability

      The VPS hosting service you select should have uptime ratings of 99.5% and above. Anything lower from your web host is simply unacceptable. For the record, DreamHost boasts one of the industry’s highest uptime scores at 99.98%. Stop it, we’re blushing.

      Hardware

      When purchasing a VPS hosting package, make sure your service provider offers the latest and greatest in hardware, including solid state drives (SSD) — the fastest storage technology. SSD makes running high-speed applications easier thanks, in part, to the lack of moving parts.

      24/7 Customer Support

      When it comes down to it, you simply don’t know when you’ll experience a site meltdown. So make sure you purchase a VPS hosting package from a company that offers 24/7 customer support.

      Backup Service

      Imagine you are revamping your site when something goes wrong and you lose everything because you forgot to backup your site. Shivers. This is an all-too-common occurrence, and it can cost you money, time, and more than a few gray hairs. Make sure when you purchase VPS service, you choose a provider that makes backups easy.

      Ready for Your Own Private Server?

      Made it all the way to the end of this guide? Well, pat yourself on the back because you are a VPS beginner no more!

      What it all boils down to is this: If your website is growing and beginning to attract some well-deserved attention, you’ll want its performance to keep pace. And that means it’s time to increase your site’s resources by upgrading to a VPS server.

      While VPS hosting is more expensive than a shared plan, the benefits of this kind of hosting solution give you a lot of bang for your buck – without having to spring for a much-pricier dedicated hosting plan. Wondering which VPS host to choose? Consider DreamHost! Our VPS plans start at just $10/mo.



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      How To Manage Remote Servers with Ansible eBook


      Download the Complete eBook!

      How To Manage Remote Servers with Ansible eBook in EPUB format

      How To Manage Remote Servers with Ansible eBook in PDF format

      Introduction to the eBook

      This book is designed to introduce you to using Ansible to manage your servers. You’ll learn how to install and configure Ansible on a control node, and then how to use it to configure and run commands on remote servers. You’ll also learn how to collect tasks into complete Playbooks to automate server setup from start to finish.

      This book is based on the How To Manage Remote Servers with Ansible tutorial series found on DigitalOcean Community. The topics that it covers include how to:

      1. Become familiar with configuration management tools and processes, and the benefits of using them to manage your infrastructure.

      2. Install and configure Ansible on an Ubuntu 20.04 control node, ensuring that your servers are properly set up and that you are able to execute remote instructions through Ansible.

      3. Build inventory files and organize your servers into groups to selectively control how and where Ansible commands are run.

      4. Run Ad Hoc commands to execute individual tasks on one, or multiple remote servers.

      5. Package individual commands into Playbooks that you can use to automate the provisioning of multiple servers, and how to run specific sets of tasks in Playbooks using tags.

      Each chapter is usable on its own as a reference, or as part of a progressive guide to learning how to manage your servers with Ansible. If you’re familiar with a topic, or are more interested in a particular section, feel free to jump to the chapter that best suits your purpose.

      Download the eBook

      You can download the eBook in either the EPUB or PDF format by following the links below.

      Download the Complete eBook!

      How To Manage Remote Servers with Ansible eBook in EPUB format

      How To Manage Remote Servers with Ansible eBook in PDF format



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