Configuring DNS settings for a Custom Domain Name

Written by FreeToastHost on . Posted in Documentation

How to properly set things up if you are using a custom domain name (moderately complicated)

This document provides a basic overview of setting up DNS records via your custom domain registrar's website,  generic instructions usable for most registrars, and finally, user-contributed detailed instructions for several registrars.

NOTE:  This document does contain some advanced technical content.  While we intend to carefully explain this topic, there is no way to make it less technical.  If you are not very computer savvy, or have some trouble understanding this document, please post a Support Request in the FreeToastHost Support Forums, and we will guide you through properly configuring your DNS settings.

 

Basic Overview

When using a custom domain name, you must set up what are referred to as "DNS records" via your custom domain registrar's website.   This is not optional--it is required for proper functioning when using a custom domain name with your FreeToastHost website.  "DNS" stands for Domain Name Service, and your registrar uses this information to properly route website traffic and emails using your custom domain name to the FreeToastHost server for processing.  For example, if someone types in www.myclubdomain.org to get to your club's website, the request actually goes to your registrar *first* that you registered the custom domain name with, and then the registrar uses the DNS records that you entered to figure out how to direct that person's computer to the proper web server to show the web page.  In this case, that server would be the FreeToastHost server.  In the DNS records, the FreeToastHost server is identified by its IP address, 50.19.253.65, which is an alternative numeric way to identify a "place" on the internet.

Using DNS lets us access servers connected to the Internet with easy text based aliases instead of a their actual IP (network) address (= a collection of numbers). These aliases are linked to a 'domain'. For example www.toastmasters.org is the website for the toastmasters.org domain. It's actually hosted on a web server connected to the Internet at IP address 54.201.217.242, but DNS covers that up for us.  When you configure the DNS settings with your registrar's website, you are essentially telling it how to match up your custom domain name with the FreeToastHost server.

Anyone can register and own most Internet domains, as long as they're not already taken. (In a sense, your registar is essentially a "broker" of custom domain names--they cannot "sell" something that is already taken.)  To reiterate - the domain (name) is the toastmasters.org part in the example above, the www part is the alias for the domain's web server. Most working domains also have an email server, to handle all the email sent to addresses that end @that.domain.

If you do not correctly set up the DNS records with your registrar, people will have problems getting to your website and members will have problems sending email.  If you are not very technically savvy, having difficulties, and/or your registrar isn't included in our list of registrars below that we have instructions for, then you should contact your registrar's customer service and provide this document to them.  You're paying for your domain name, after all, and most registrars' customer service people are used to working with less technically savvy users.   If you are still having difficulties after contacting the registrar, then please post in the FreeToastHost support forums and ask our support team to coach you through the process of getting the DNS records set up properly. 

Lastly, keep in mind that your registration for your custom domain name will likely expire at some point, possibly when someone else is the website admin.  Please do yourself and them a favor and enter all the relevant registrar information and the expiration date for your custom domain name in the Registrar Information box on the Basic Settings tab of the Admin Console for future reference.


What are the basic DNS Settings required for a Custom Domain?

In the simplest terms, using your registrar's Domain Name Servers, you need 4 DNS records:
(Substitute your custom domain name for domain.ext below.)

3 Class A

  • domain.ext A 50.19.253.65              (This directs internet traffic using your custom domain name to the FreeToastHost server.)
  • www.domain.ext A 50.19.253.65     (This lets you use www. with your custom domain name.)
  • mail.domain.ext A 50.19.253.65      (This is used with the MX record below to enable email to get to the FreeToastHost server.)

1 MX record for mail

  • domain.ext MX-10 mail.domain.ext  (This tells the registrar how to direct email to an email address containing the custom domain name.)

By Brian McDonald
(edited by Steve James)

Generic instructions for changing your registrar's DNS Settings

It's a two-part process to use your custom domain with your FreeToastHost website and email:

  1. You need to configure the DNS records via your registrar's website to direct Internet users' computers to the FreeToastHost servers for your domain's website and email.
     
  2. Because the FTH 2 servers host multiple TI websites and their associated email, FreeToastHost needs to know what your custom domain is. This ensures users typing www.domain.ext into their browsers get to see your website on the FreeToastHost servers and that your domain email is handled properly.

Step-by-step:

1. Configuring your domain's DNS records:

1.1 As indicated in the FreeToastHost admin console, you need to 'own' a domain already or have registered a new one. Owning here means:

a) You have the right to use the domain,
     and
b) You're able to change its DNS records.

Getting a new domain is as easy as Googling 'domain names' and selecting a domain registrar - there are plenty of them!
Your domain name can be chosen, paid for, set up and managed all online - all for a fairly low cost.

WARNING: If you've already using your domain for your existing club website and/or for the domain's email, make sure your new FreeToastHost website is ready to go before making any DNS changes. Soon after you make the changes your previous website and any previous email services (including stored emails) will no longer be directly available. Your website and email will subsequently be handled by FreeToastHost.

It's a good idea to plan a definite time for the changes and let your fellow club members know beforehand what's happening and when.

1.2 You need to create or change four DNS records so they read as below - i.e. to point to the FreeToastHost server (substitute your domain name for domain.ext below):

Record
Type
EntryIP Address/URL
A domain.ext 50.19.253.65
A www.domain.ext 50.19.253.65
A mail.domain.ext 50.19.253.65
MX 10 mail.domain.ext

Almost all domain registrars or hosting providers have some kind of web-browser accessible control panel, where you can create or change DNS records quickly and easily. You'll need to familiarise yourself with how your particular control panel works before you start.

1.3 You'll normally be changing existing records, since almost all domain names will already have some/all of these records set up. Even a newly registered domain may have the www A record set up, to point at the registrar's holding web page.

1.4 Now you need to be patient … although you've just changed the records on the DNS server that holds the definitive ('authoritative' in DNS-speak) configuration of your domain, it can take many hours for the changes to be 'shared' around the Internet - in this case to reach the DNS servers FreeToastHost uses; typically anything from 2 hours to 24 hours.

2 Changing your FreeToastHost settings:

2.1 Open the FreeToastHost Admin Console. Scroll to the bottom of the Basic Settings tab and enter your domain name (remember - without any prefix like 'www', just the domain name) in the Custom Website Domain box.  Save the entry.

2.2 FreeToastHost will then check if it is aware of your DNS changes yet. If not you'll get the error message that starts "This domain is not yet pointing to the IP address 50.19.253.65. …". Try saving your domain name again, after waiting a while (say 2 hours). And again … Eventually FreeToastHost will recognise your DNS changes and you'll get the "Success! Information updated …" message.

2.3 Enter your Registrar information including login information and domain expiration date in the Registrar Information box for future reference.  Save the entry.

2.4 Job done! Your domain is now using your FreeToastHost hosted website and mail services.

Contributed by Ian Read
Speak Easy At Martlesham
(Edited by Steve James)

 
 
By the way, because you won't know who is going to see the old version or the new version until maybe 72 hours have passed, it's not a good idea to make this change just before a meeting.
 
 
 

How does this work with a particular registrar?

We don't offer instructions for specific registrars because there are a lot of different registrars and it's almost impossible to keep the instructions up to date.

 

If you are having difficulty figuring out how this works with your own registrar, ask them for help. You are a paying customer and entitled to support.