Why CNAME Settings Matter
- If you have a website and host running several services, such as email access and File Transfer Protocol access, you essentially have two ports, or connections, open (in addition to the HTTP access via Web browsers). This can create conflicts because all of these services are tied to one IP address. CNAME Records are used as a workaround, allowing you to assign aliases that route traffic to your server without confusing the DNS. In this example, the alias for email might be "mail.example.com" and that for FTP could be "ftp.example.com."
Accessing CNAME Records
- When you purchase a hosting package from a Web host provider, there are a variety of CNAME records created by default, allowing your services (such as email) to have a unique record in the DNS. Configuration of the default settings for your CNAME and other record types is accessed via the domain host's user control panel. As the domain owner, you have full access to alter these records, but doing so can have undesired effects with regard to Web browsers accessing your website.
Related Domain Records
- CNAME records create aliases fine alone, but they work in conjunction with a few other record types you see when logged into your Web host control panel. "A" records map single or multiple domain names to an IP address. "NS" records, or Name Server records, list what physical server shares out data for a particular domain, while "MX," or Mail eXchange records, serve a similar function but work to direct email traffic to and from the right servers.
CNAME Settings Case Study
- The usage of Google Apps, low-cost service that provides organizations with domain integrated email, calendar and other enterprise solutions, illustrates the importance of CNAME settings. Google Apps allows you to use a branded form of gmail. The features and interface are made by Google; however, when you send or receive email, the address is your domain (email@example.com) rather than a "firstname.lastname@example.org" address. This is achieved by altering your host's CNAME settings to point to Google's email server, "ghs.google.com." When the CNAME record is created, the DNS routes incoming email to Google rather than your host.