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DNS - Concepts

The DNS Namespace

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DNS Nameserver

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Domain Name

A domain name (or just ‘domain’) is a unique name which identifies a website or IP address, e.g. scaleway.com. A domain may consist of a single DNS Zone, or be divided into several zones.


The Domain Name System is a name management system for computing devices connected to a network, be it public (Internet) or private. It translates text-based domain names to numerical IP addresses. Scaleway provides a managed DNS service.

DNS nameserver

A DNS nameserver stores the DNS Records for a given domain(s). Scaleway has its own nameservers for its managed domains.

DNS Record

A DNS Record holds information translating a domain or subdomain to an IP addresses, mail server or other domain/subdomain. DNS records for each DNS Zone are stored within files called DNS zone files. These are hosted on DNS nameservers. DNS records act as instructions for the DNS servers, so they know which domain names and IP addresses are associated with each other. DNS records can be of multiple types, called resource records. Check out our documentation on how to manage DNS records.

DNS Zone

A DNS zone hosts the [DNS records for a distinct part of the global domain namespace, and is managed by a specific organization or administrator. For example with Scaleway DNS, if you are managing the external domain example.com with us, this is your root zone. You can create further zones and subdomains, eg mysubdomain.example.com.

DNS Zone File

A DNS zone file describes a DNS Zone, containing DNS records which constitute mappings between domain names, IP addresses and other resources.

DNS Namespace

DNS domains are all organized in a hierarchy called the DNS namespace. The hierarchy consists of:

  • Top Level Domains: .com or .net, for example.
  • Second-level domains: example.com
  • Subdomains: mysite.example.com or sub.domain.example.com.

External Domain

An external domain is any domain created via an external registrar (ie not by Scaleway). Scaleway DNS is currently able to manage DNS zones for external domains.

Resource Records

Information in DNS zones is categorized and organized through a list of DNS record types, called Resource Records (RRs). Each of these records has a type, an expiration time (Time to Live - TTL), a name, and type-specific data for certain types of records.

The most common records are:

  • A record: Address record, mostly used to map domain names to the IPv4 address of a specific server
  • AAAA record: IPv6 Address record, returns an IPv6 address and is mostly used to map domain names to the IPv6 address of a specific server.
  • CNAME record: Canonical name record, an alias of one name to another. The DNS lookup will continue by looking up the new name.
  • MX record: Mail exchange record, maps a domain name to a list of one or several mail servers for that domain.
  • TXT record: Text record, often used to carry machine-readable data such as information for automated domain validation.

Reverse DNS

Reverse DNS (rDNS) allows you to resolve from an IP address to a Fully Qualified Domain Name (FQDN). A FQDN consists of a complete address for a website, computer, server or similar entity that exists on the Internet. Reverse DNS is the exact opposite of the classic use of DNS, which associates domain names to IP addresses. Here, it operates by creating a reverse DNS zone in which DNS PTR records (for Pointer Record) will be configured. Reverse DNS can be helpful when sending emails from your server. Indeed, many mail servers on the Internet are configured to reject incoming mail from any IP address that does not have reverse DNS. For those who manage their own mail server, reverse DNS must exist for the IP address from which the outgoing email is sent.

Root Server

Root Servers are a type of DNS nameservers pertaining to Top Level domains. They are the first step in the resolution of any domain name, since they contain information about the authoritative DNS servers for each Top Level domain .

Scaleway DNS

Scaleway DNS is a managed DNS service that allows you to easily configure the DNS Zones of your domains. It provides support for queries via both IPv4 and IPv6, and supports all common types of DNS records.