dns settings questions
January 31, 2012 12:57 PM   Subscribe

I have a profile hosted by a social media site that I would like to customize with a personal domain. The directions involve me changing my domain's A record to a certain IP, but my IT guy says that doing so will screw up the other domains that are hosted in my family's all-inclusive account. Why?

I have a profile made on a special website and now that I have a premium account, I can use a custom domain with said profile so that www.myname.com points to my profile, etc, etc. The directions for accomplishing this task are as follows:

1. You have changed the domain's A record (IP) to [special IP]
2. You have entered "@" or your domain name in the Host column of your DNS settings
3. All old A records are removed
4. No other redirects are in place
5. You have entered the URL of your custom domain correctly on your Settings page
6. You have waited 72 hours for the change to occur across all servers

When I brought these instructions to a relative to help me since he is the person in charge of my domain, he informed me that because my custom domain (myname.com) is hosted along with other domains owned by our family, changing the DNS for myname.com could irreparably damage the other domains. He offered me a workaround of simply pointing my domain to my profile using a stealth redirect, but that has caused a problem with the way my website appears on mobile devices. I would like to know more about this process so I can have a more productive dialogue with my relative.

If there are other domains hosted on an account along with myname.com, will it really be that dangerous to change the A record of myname.com? Why?

FWIW, the other domains are completely separate, individual sites and are not subdomains of myname.com.
posted by These Birds of a Feather to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As long as their is no one else using www.myname.com for anything they will not be affected.
posted by dgeiser13 at 1:09 PM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: Forgot to mention: working with Apollo Hosting. Relative says there is no place to enter @ anywhere as there is no Host column to speak of when looking at DNS settings. Cannot personally attest to that. Does that change/complicate things?

I have no plans to use myname.com with email. The other domains in our account are both full-on websites plus email accounts. My domain is the only one that is literally just a .com address at this time.

Another question: if I go forward with the above instructions and we do change the A record as is asked of us, if I later want to renege on this set-up and have a regular website, will that be difficult to accomplish too? Relative says that changing DNS settings may be more permanent than we think.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:10 PM on January 31, 2012

The instructions that you were given from the social media site describe what you would change if you were looking at the plaintext DNS zone file itself. The graphical interface which the current DNS hosting company has provided for your relative doesn't have the information that he/she is looking for exactly but it's still do-able.

If you want to change the A record that www.myname.com points to it shouldn't be any issue in the future either. Changing DNS settings is not permanent by a long shot. Most DNS servers have a reasonable TTL (Time to Live) of a day or two.

Provided everything is exactly as you have described then both your IT person and your relative are incorrect.
posted by dgeiser13 at 1:17 PM on January 31, 2012

I don't know how Apollo works, but at the company I use, the first domain you register becomes the "main" domain of the site - and any domains added after that are considered add-ons. You can do pretty much whatever you want with the add-on domains, or the subdomains of those domains - but you cannot mess around with the DNS of the main domain without causing all sorts of major problems throughout the entire account. When I needed to change the "main domain" on my account, it required, basically, creating an entirely new account under the new "main domain" - moving all the files, databases, changing DNS, et cetera - and manually updating mail settings and other such specialized things. I'm thinking this may be the kind of problem you're encountering - technically you should be able to change DNS for one domain without affecting any other, but because of the setup on your hosting account, messing with this particular domain will require a huge amount of effort, and potentially a significant fee from the host.

If this is indeed the case, I would strongly recommend (if you decide to make the change anyway) that you pick a bland, never-gonna-use-it-for-anything-else domain name to be that "main" domain name - just so you never have to worry about going through that shuffle again. I would also strongly recommend that you do something nice for the IT guy or whoever's going to have to actually make the changes, because ohmigod when I had to do that it SUCKED.

Two cents, fwiw.
posted by mie at 1:46 PM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: If my domain is the most recent domain created, is it likely that it is the "main domain"?

How difficult is it to transfer a domain to a new account?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:50 PM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: Also, why do I have to enter my custom domain into this other site's settings in order to complete this process?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:52 PM on January 31, 2012

There's no reason changing the A record for mydomain.com would have any impact on sistersdomain.com or brothersdomain.com. But, I'm having trouble understanding the statement "hosted along with other domains owned by our family". Do they all currently have A records pointing to the same IP? What's running at that IP?
posted by IanMorr at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2012

Can you tell us what the social media site is? I can't think of any legitimate ones that REQUIRE you to use your domain in this way, but there are many (tumblr, WordPress.com) that will allow you to.

I'm echoing that your relative/IT person doesn't know what's going on. I have done far crazier things with DNS/domain names. This is very simple and straightforward and should be easy on any decent web host.

It sounds like that possibly your other domain names are set up as forwarding domains to your main domain, which in that case, WOULD mess things up if you tried to redirect the main domain. If that's the case, you've already got a mess on your hands anyhow.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 3:52 PM on January 31, 2012

HOKAY! Witness my pseudocode.

Sometimes you have one machine with a bunch of A records pointing to it. If this is your situation:

www.featherbird.com ->
@ -> www (optional)
www.featheruncle.com ->

...no problem. You can change or add records for featherbird.com as you like.

If somehow the DNS is set up for featheruncle.com as an alias and you have:

www.featherbird.com ->
www.featheruncle.com -> www.featherbird.com

...there will be problems. If featheruncle.com has any kind of CNAME or whatever, it should be changed to an A record, to, after which www.featherbird.com can be changed to point to (the social site).

If you have:

www.featherbird.com ->
knitting.featherbird.com ->
www.featheruncle.com ->

...no problem

If you have www.featherbird and www.featheruncle as existing sites both pointing to and want to add a new knitting.featherbird.com address record to (the social site), you will be fine to add that in any of the cases above:

www.featherbird.com ->
knitting.featherbird.com ->
@ -> www (optional)
www.featheruncle.com ->

posted by rhizome at 6:29 PM on January 31, 2012

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