Oct 20, 2021
How to Use Hostinger’s DNS Zone Editor in 2021
DNS stands for Domain Name System, which is a standard protocol that translates domain names into IP addresses. With it, the web browser can communicate with the server and load the website’s content on the user’s screen.
The DNS Zone Editor is a part of the hPanel that enables shared, cloud, and WordPress hosting clients to modify their domain’s DNS records. These are files that contain the information about your domain, including which IP addresses it points to.
If you use Hostinger services, there will be occasions where using the DNS Zone Editor will be necessary. This article will explain all there is to know about this feature and how to navigate it correctly.
How a DNS Works
Before we begin, here’s a brief explanation of how DNS works:
- A user enters the website’s URL on the browser’s address bar.
- The web browser sends a query for the domain name’s translation to the DNS nameservers.
- Afterward, the DNS nameservers will retrieve the corresponding IP address from its DNS records.
- The web browser fetches the website content from the IP address and loads it on the user’s screen.
Some cases may require you to modify a domain name’s DNS records. One example would be when you want to switch web hosts or point the domain name to a different IP address. That’s where the DNS Zone Editor comes into play.
Note that any changes made to the DNS records won’t take effect immediately. Depending on which type of record you modify, the process may take up to 24 hours.
What Are Nameservers?
Nameservers store all of the DNS records of a domain name and use them to find the domain’s associated IP address. They’re also responsible for directing traffic to the website the domain belongs to.
When a user registers a domain name, the host will provide them with at least two nameserver values. One will serve as a backup if the other one goes down.
Here’s what Hostinger’s nameservers look like:
If you want to modify a domain’s DNS records, its DNS settings should include the website’s hosting provider’s nameserver values. As such, to use the hPanel’s DNS Zone Editor, ensure that your domain is pointing to Hostinger.
The domain must be pointing to Hostinger nameservers. Otherwise, the DNS zone will not be managed from the Hostinger side. In other words, the DNS Zone Editor will not have any effect. Ultimately, if the user misses this step, none of the rest of the article will make any sense.
If you purchase a domain name from our services, it will use our nameserver values by default.
Hostinger clients can verify this by opening hPanel -> Domains and clicking on their current domain. The nameservers will appear in the Domain Information table.
Those who bought a domain name from a different provider should go to their registrar’s settings and change the existing nameservers with the ones above. Doing so will point the domain to your new hosting account, directing visitors to the site you’re hosting with Hostinger.
Exploring Hostinger’s DNS Zone Editor
Hostinger’s clients can open the DNS Zone Editor by going to the hPanel -> Hosting Account -> Advanced.
Should the DNS Zone Editor be inaccessible, check if your domain name already connects to your hosting plan and uses the correct nameservers.
Here’s what your DNS Zone Editor page should look like:
If you only purchase a domain name at Hostinger, click on Domains on the top menu and select the domain you’re using. On the left sidebar, choose DNS / Nameservers, and then navigate to the DNS records tab.
There will be several DNS records you can edit, add, and remove. For illustration purposes, we will use the domain name loremipsum.com.
What Is an A Record?
An A record is the most basic type of DNS record as it simply points a domain or subdomain to an IP address. Note that A records only point to IPv4 addresses.
By default, there are two listings in the DNS Zone Editor. One is for the domain using the ftp subdomain, while the other is for the naked domain, signified by the @ symbol.
Using the loremipsum.com example, these records will point both ftp.loremipsum.com and loremipsum.com to the IP address of 000.0.000.00.
If you want to point the domain or its subdomains to an additional IP address, simply add a new A record in the Manage DNS Records section like so:
Below are the fields you need to fill in:
- Type – the type of DNS record you want to create.
- Name – use @ if you want the domain name to point to another IP address. You can also insert a subdomain name.
- Points to – enter the IP address that your domain or subdomain points to.
- TTL – short for “time to live”, this field specifies how long the DNS resolver should save the query for this domain as cache. Most hosting providers usually set it to 14400 seconds or 4 hours.
After filling in the required information, hit Add Record to create the entry.
What Is a CNAME Record?
Short for Canonical Name, the CNAME record is for making one particular domain or subdomain an alias for another domain.
Let’s say you have a website using the loremipsum.com domain. However, it’s common for people to enter www before the domain on their browser, so you want the URL www.loremipsum.com to point to your site as well. The CNAME record makes that possible.
Note that when you add a new CNAME record, you will insert the main domain name in the Target field as opposed to entering its IP address, as illustrated below:
If you change the IP address of the main domain in the A record, the CNAME records’ aliases will follow suit.
What Is an MX Record?
Also known as Mail Exchanger, the MX record specifies the mail server responsible for receiving emails sent to your domain. Hostinger clients will automatically use our MX records, which are:
Here’s what they look like on the DNS Zone Editor:
If you want to use a third-party email hosting service, remove these MX records and add new ones using their mail servers. Aside from Name and TTL, there are other two fields you must enter during this process:
- Mail server – the address of the server that will receive the emails.
- Priority – which mail server address to use first when collecting the emails. The lowest number represents the highest priority.
Here is an example of what an MX record looks like using one of Google Workspace’s mail servers:
Important! You can only use one email provider per one domain name at a time, so ensure you only have an MX record for the domain name. If the user is using different email providers for the main domain and subdomain, make sure to use the “name” section in the DNS zone appropriately.
If your domain is pointing elsewhere as indicated by the NS records, your DNS zone management will be moved to the provider you pointed the domain to and should be managed from there.
What Is a TXT Record?
A TXT record is a DNS entry containing text information about a domain that is readable to external parties.
Common examples of TXT records are Sender Policy Framework (SPF) and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM). Website owners generally use both to secure email exchanges from spoofing or phishing attempts. Google Apps also use TXT records for domain verification purposes.
The SPF TXT record works by specifying the IP addresses or hostnames that have permission to send messages on behalf of a domain. Meanwhile, the DKIM TXT record includes cryptographic signatures to the email to verify that the message comes from a trustworthy source.
Hostinger’s DNS Zone Editor already has an SPF TXT record created by default. It uses the “v=spf1” tag within the TXT value, as shown in this screenshot:
The steps to add a new TXT record are the same as other entries. Use @ for the domain or insert the subdomain’s name in the Name field, depending on what the information is for. For the DKIM record, enter the selector name along with _domainkey.
Instead of Points to, a TXT value field will appear where you’ll need to fill in the information you want to specify in the record.
Below is what the fields should look like when adding a new DKIM TXT record:
Important! Keep in mind that a domain name can have multiple TXT records for verification, but should only have one SPF and one DKIM record, but there are some ways to include more than that.
What Is an AAAA Record?
The AAAA record is similar to the A record we previously covered. The difference is it will point your domain to an IPv6 address instead of an IPv4.
By default, this record is left blank in Hostinger’s DNS Zone editor since most internet service providers (ISP) and internet routers do not have IPv6 support yet.
What Is an NS Record?
In the DNS Zone Editor, the NS records contain the nameserver values Hostinger has provided. You should edit them only when you want to transfer your website to a different web host.
Keep in mind that NS records should always stay pointed to values ns1.dns-parking.com and ns2.dns-parking.com. Even if you want to switch hosts, this section of the DNS Zone Editor is not the best place to edit the NS records. If you need to change hosts, you should change the nameservers from the registrar, which can be checked from the WHOIS domain lookup.
What Is an SRV Record?
The SRV record specifies the server location of the service to establish a connection with them. It’s intended for protocols like VoIP and XMPP, both of which facilitate user communication via the internet. Just like the AAAA record, this entry is empty by default.
The required information for this record is similar to others:
- Name – the service, protocol, and domain name using the format _service._protocol.example.com.
- Weight – if multiple SRV records have the same priority, this value will determine which one to contact first. The higher the number, the higher the priority.
- Port – a number used by the service.
- Target – the address of the destination server.
- Priority – the priority of a server. The system will prioritize records with lower numbers.
What Is a CAA Record?
Short for Certification Authority Authorization, this DNS record defines the certificate authority (CA) that can issue SSL certificates for a domain. Its purpose is to prevent unauthorized and malicious parties from granting fake certifications.
If you have multiple subdomains, there’s no need to create separate CAA records for each one. One entry set for the root domain will automatically apply to all of the subdomains.
Hostinger includes the following CAA records by default:
Besides Name and TTL, insert the following fields to add a new CAA record:
- Flag – an unsigned integer from 0 to 255. The default flag is 0.
- Tag – choose between issue, issuewild, and iodef. Issue will authorize a single CA to grant any type of certificate. Issuewild allows the CA to only use a wildcard certificate. Iodef is to specify the contact information the CA can report to if there are any CAA-related issues.
- CA domain – the domain name of the certificate authority.
Here’s an example that shows what you may enter if you want to add a CAA record for Sectigo:
Resetting Your DNS Zone to Default Settings
Sometimes, an error may occur after editing the DNS zone. One way to fix it is by restoring the default settings. Scroll down to the bottom and press the Reset DNS Records button.
To recap, the DNS Zone Editor allows only shared, cloud, and WordPress hosting clients to edit their domain’s DNS records.
The following are the types of DNS records that you can modify:
- A record – specifies which IPv4 addresses the domain name points to.
- CNAME record – assigns domains or subdomains that can serve as aliases for a website’s main domain.
- MX record – defines the mail servers responsible for receiving emails sent to your domain name.
- TXT record – adds text information that is readable to external parties, usually for security and verification purposes.
- AAA record – similar to the A record but points to IPv6 addresses.
- NS record – lists the nameserver values the domain name uses.
- SRV record – specifies the server location of a service that should connect with the domain. It’s typically used for such internet protocols as VoIP and XMPP.
- CAA record – defines which certificate authorities can issue SSL certificates to a domain name.
Feel free to use this guide anytime you need to use the DNS Zone Editor. Keep in mind that if an error occurs after editing the data, you can always restore the DNS records to their default settings.