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Understanding Domains and DNS
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Understanding Domains and DNS

Reviewed on 12 April 2023Published on 12 April 2023

This page provides information about Scaleway’s Domains and DNS service.

Domain and zone

A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority, or control within the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name.

Domains are further divided into subdomains, that become DNS zones with their own set of administrators and DNS servers.

The term domain is used in the business functions of the entity assigned to it and the term zone is usually used for configuration of DNS services.


domain_example.com is the domain and has only one owner who can manage it.

By default, the domain only has a root zone and no subdomains.

The zone for example.com allows you to configure records such as:

├── (root)
├── www # www.example.com
├── mail # mail.example.com
└── www.dev # www.dev.example.com

If we add a DNS zone to the subdomain dev.example.com, we get:

├── (root)
│ ├── www # www.example.com
│ └── mail # mail.example.com
├── dev
└── www # www.dev.example.com

Advantages of subdomains and multiple zones

Multiple zones (i.e. subdomains) allow:

  • access delegation to zone(s) (preventing access to the root zone)
  • access (future) to features based on templates
  • performance tuning. For example if you have 10 000 records, we recommend that you divide them into x zones or subdomains.
  • To be RFC compliant, each zone will automatically have name server records added.

Internationalized domain name

An internationalized domain name (IDN) is an Internet domain name that contains at least one label that is displayed in software applications. The label is in whole or in part in a language-specific script or alphabet, such as Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Tamil, Hebrew, or the Latin alphabet-based characters with diacritics or ligatures, such as French. These writing systems are encoded by computers in multibyte Unicode. Internationalized domain names are stored in the Domain Name System as ASCII strings using Punycode transcription.

Example: allélua.com converted in IDN is xn--alllua-dva.com.

To simplify its use, the Domains and DNS API uses unicode (UTF-8) for name and data fields.