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by Eric P. Jackson

DNS is Everyone's Responsibility - Yeah, YOU!

Dear Competitors,

It's time to learn about DNS. Yeah, I understand you're probably standing in line waiting for your iPhone Plus so you can stuff it in your skinny jeans, but listen to me for two beats.

When you take on a new customer, and ask for control of a domain name, you'd better know EVERYTHING about what is attached to that domain name.

The domain name identifies resources on the Internet (or Interwebs as we like to call it at Keystone). They exist because nobody wants 174.129.224.59 as the face of their business. Yes, it's more complicated than that, but it's not really important at this point...domain names and where they are registered are vitally important to their operation.

So why the rant? Well, when someone decides to take their business elsewhere, they'll often transfer their domain name to another registrar without thinking twice about the responsibility they now have and what havoc they may wreak on the business that depends on that name.

So let's break this down. Most simply put, there are several moving parts here:

Domain name

Simply, wearekeystone.com is ours. It's a name with underlying resources that can be configured for mail, ftp, www, and many other protocols that run on the Internet. It is possible for us to tell that domain name to route web traffic - www.wearekeystone.com - to Amazon's Cloud Hosting, which is what we do. We can also tell the domain name to route email traffic to the Microsoft Small Business Server (running Exchange) sitting in a climate controlled room in our office at 100 Country Club Drive...which we do.

Registrar

The registrar is what you would expect, the holder of the registrations. We have to pay a registration fee every year to continue using the name. While we use the term "own" for a domain name, you own it about as much you owned that apartment you rented. Don't want to pay rent? Hit the bricks. You can't "buy" a domain name.

DNS Servers

Thus begins the mystery. Every domain name has DNS server settings. This setting tells the Internet what server is ultimately responsible for pointing services related to a domain name. Think of it as the US Postal Service, only faster. "Hey DNS server, I need to deliver mail to wearekeystone.com." The DNS server replies with an answer (in milliseconds), and off goes the mail to it's intended location.

Host Records

Inside that DNS server are host records for each service related to the domain name. As I mentioned above, it's simple to customize where each service is located...and in many cases, those services are distributed to MANY other services in many locations across the Internet.

(Registrar + DNS Servers) = One Stop Shopping

To further complicate things, your domain registrar and DNS server can be managed at the same company...or not. Your choice. So I can register a domain at BulkRegister.com and host DNS there too...or choose to have a third-party service - or even the web hosting company manage my DNS server (and host records).

So when you - naive artiste that you are who cannot be bothered with the dirty technology details of your web-based art - decide to move a domain name away from a registrar, need to consider that MAYBE the registrar that is losing the domain name is going to delete the host records, routing all your traffic to nowhere, bringing your customer's operations to its knees.

So if you get all sullen and angry when you move a domain name away from us - assuming everything will work and smell like unicorn breath when you're done - don't try to blame Keystone for your rank ignorance about THE BUSINESS THAT YOU HAVE CHOSEN TO BE IN. Simply read this and weep deeply. Then go learn something.

As for the rest of you, yes, the fees you pay us to do things right are worth it. We don't have these issues because before moving ANYTHING we look at all the records and services associated with your domain name and make sure nothing will be disabled. It's what we do, and we do it RIGHT.