Personal Log »

Finding a free secondary DNS

I think I started hosting my domain because at some point the hosting provider I was using didn’t support all the record types I wanted to use –I have since 2002–. Also, I was younger and had more free time. Go figure: I thought DNS was fun.

A haiku about DNS (from nixCraft’s blog):

It’s not DNS
There’s no way it’s DNS
It was DNS

Generally you used to get a secondary DNS service for free as part of the deal with your hosting company, as long as the primary was hosted on an IP in their network. It was like that –if I recall correctly– when I was with OVH, and later on with Memset –and I worked there for a few years, although it was acquired and things have changed–.

But now I’m with DigitalOcean and, as far as I can tell after looking at their docs, they only do secondary for you if you let them host the zone management. And obviously I don’t want to use their control panel and give up hosting the zone myself, or change hosting company –migrating services isn’t fun–.

Well, is not a problem because I have two servers anyway, so I can host primary and secondary, isn’t it? Not quite, because unfortunately I didn’t think this through and I ended with both servers in the same data center :facepalm:, which is not good as it is very well explained on the FAQ of PUCK Free Secondary DNS Service:

Q: Why do I need a secondary dns server?
A: You want to have (at least) TWO different DNS servers in two different physical locations. This will help you if your primary DNS server experiences a power outage or some sort of problem related to network connectivity.

So the question is: can I find a free secondary DNS service? Yes, I can! Although It wasn’t easy to get to that answer, probably because search engines have a difficult time providing relevant results these days.

There are a few for-profit possibilities, that give you some free stuff with some limitations; which can be too limiting to be useful. For example: the number of queries a month their servers will respond.

But some don’t have such limitations, two of them:

I decided to give FreeDNS a go. It provides an impressive number of free services, and it was very simple to setup.

I like their philosophy and the feel. If I had the need to pay for any of their services, I would do it with pleasure; as opposed to other limited services –not bad or even expensive–, that felt like a trial. Which is fair enough as their are for-profit, but when I got an email from one of those providers telling me that their servers wouldn’t respond to any more queries that month unless I paid them, it didn’t have the effect they expected –they could have sent the email before I was over the quota, isn’t it?–.

And I was delighted to also find PUCK Free Secondary DNS Service, which is a very simple service that they provide for free to “the community”. I don’t know the details, but I suspect it comes from the fact that used to be the largest public-access Unix systems with the least restrictions on the internet –according to Jared Mauch’s about page—. The domain was created on January of 1995, I’d love to hear that story!

The response times did look good, so I decided to use both, FreeDNS and PUCK:

$ dig NS | grep -A 4 ';; ANSWER'
;; ANSWER SECTION:             86400   IN      NS             86400   IN      NS             86400   IN      NS             86400   IN      NS

Would you like to discuss the post? You can send me an email!