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Improve your DNS usage
by Rick Smith (September 2, 2003)

Improve your DNS usage

For the most of my Internet life, I've had a single Internet provider. I dialed into the Internet, received email and purchased web hosting services -- all from the same provider. Then one day in early 2003, things changed.

The ReviewsOnLine.com server was not accessible to the rest of the world. The server had gone down before, due to connectivity issues and technical errors, but this time it seemed worse. While the web server was fully functional and operating properly, no one could reach it by domain name.

Our provider's DNS servers had been hacked and became non-functional, so we were completely isolated. Had I known then what I know now, I could have taken steps to recover full access to the ReviewsOnLine.com site, in less than a day, no matter what problems our hosting provider continued to have. As I began to assess the situation during the following weeks, I realized that I was getting all my critical services from a single centralized provider which became a single point of failure.

While a single source provider can sometimes be very good and this plan had worked for me quite well for a number of years, the possibility of a "domino" or "cascade" effect, where a single problem in one service affect the others had occured. I had encountered this before and decided to not let it happen again. Therefore, I decided to try out the "best of breed" model instead.

Far too many Internet difficulties are caused by having a dependency of one service or provider on another, so I decided to find different providers for each of the critical services. This way each service was an "interchangeable" building block that could be simply exchanged for the same service from different provider. I simply had to separate out the different services in a logical and practical manner.

My first step was to outline the critical services. I wanted to surf online, send and receive e-mail and have web sites with their own unique domain names. Therefore, the key services I outlined were:

  • Internet connectivity -- getting "on" the web

  • E-mail hosting -- accepting/storing/forwarding e-mail

  • Web hosting -- allowing others to see a web site

  • DNS hosting -- making it easy for others to find the domain

  • Domain name registration -- rent/lease the domain name

    Going even further, some of these services can be subdivided into more specific services. So, I resolved to make a conscious decision about each specific provider and not simply accept the status quo just because I hadn't bothered to investigate all the different possibilities.

    In this series of Internet-related articles, I outline some of the decisions that I made and show you the "how and why", so that you that might also exercise your choices and improve your piece of the Internet.

    Improve your DNS usage

    Copyright 2003 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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