DNS Management & Settings

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Domain Name System, or DNS, is how domain names refer to IP addresses.  Perhaps most importantly, it's how, when someone types in "www.example.com" into their browser, the proper servers get called to display your website to that user.  It also handles how your email gets routed, so it's important to get it right.

 As a Sitemason customer, you have two options for DNS:

  • Manage your domain via the Sitemason DNS Manager (easy, convenient, and included with every Sitemason package).
  • Manage your domain using your own Name Server(s).

Managing Your Domain with the Sitemason DNS Manager

Pointing DNS to Sitemason's Name Servers

Most Sitemason users fall under this category.  When you register a domain via a registrar (Network Solutions, OpenSRS, GoDaddy, etc.), you must set the Authoritative Name Servers for the domain.  This action tells computers which Name Servers should be used to answer their questions about your domain.  Sitemason's Name Servers are:

  • ns1.sitemason.com
  • ns2.sitemason.com
  • ns3.sitemason.com

 Once you have that set, you can start managing your DNS settings via Sitemason's DNS Manager.

Using the Sitemason DNS Manager

Sitemason's DNS Manager is a simple-to-use interface that allows Sitemason customers to access and manage their DNS settings at any time, for all domains accessible for that user.  Upon making changes and saving the record, those changes are relayed to our Name Servers within one minute.

Accessing the DNS Manager varies depending on which version of Sitemason you are using.  If you're not sure, the illustrations below will help you quickly establish your current version.

 

Sitemason CMS 6.0+ Users

1) Log into your Sitemason account: http://www.sitemason.com/login

2) Tap the "Site Settings" panel from the right menu (Figure 1).  If the current site is not the one for which you wish to manage DNS, select the appropriate site from the Site Selection Menu towards the top left.

3) Once on the "Site Settings" panel, tap the "DNS" tab to display the DNS Manager panel (Figure 2).

4) From the DNS Manager (FIgure 3), enter the appropriate settings for MX, CNAME, A, AAAA, and TXT records.  Quick-fill selections are available for Sitemason www settings and these are the only settings required in order to use Sitemason.  Other settings are optional and the specifics depend on your requirements.  If you are unsure, please consult your IT department for guidance.

 

1-sm6LandingPage.png

2-sm6Settings.png

3-dnsManager.png

 

Sitemason Hosting Users

1) Log into your Sitemason account: http://www.sitemason.com/login

2) From the Hosting Panel, choose the "Host Settings" tab (Figure 4)

3) From the DNS Manager (FIgure 3), enter the appropriate settings for MX, CNAME, A, AAAA, and TXT records.  Quick-fill selections are available for Sitemason www settings and these are the only settings required in order to use Sitemason.  Other settings are optional and the specifics depend on your requirements.  If you are unsure, please consult your IT department for guidance.

4-hostingPanel.png 

 

Sitemason CMS 5 Users

1) Log into your Sitemason account: http://www.sitemason.com/login

2) From the "Sitemason 5" menu (Figure 6), choose "Go to Sitemason 6."  If that option is unavailable, choose "Go to Sitemason 4," both shown in FIgure 7.

3) Continue with Step 2 of either the Sitemason 6 or Sitemason 4 procedure list, based on the option you selected.

figure6.png

figure7.png

 

Sitemason CMS 4 Users

1) Log into your Sitemason account: http://www.sitemason.com/login

2) From the Site Manager, select the appropriate domain from the "Manage DNS" pull-down menu towards the top right of the page (Figure 5)

3) From the DNS Manager (FIgure 3), enter the appropriate settings for MX, CNAME, A, AAAA, and TXT records.  Quick-fill selections are available for Sitemason www settings and these are the only settings required in order to use Sitemason.  Other settings are optional and the specifics depend on your requirements.  If you are unsure, please consult your IT department for guidance.

 

5-sm4LandingPage.png

 

 

Using the DNS Manager

 For information on how to use the Sitemason DNS Manager, see this guide.

 

Managing Your Domain Using Your Own Name Servers

If you run your own Name Servers and/or want to manage your DNS information using something other than the Sitemason DNS Manager, you'll need to point to the Sitemason servers for your website (usually the hostname is "www", but it could be anything else that you choose.  For the purposes of this example, we'll use the "www" host name, since 99.9% of the time, that is the case).

  • Point the www entry to web.sitemasonhost.com (CNAME record).  The exception to this is for customers running secure certificates.  In these cases, you will receive a customized sitemasonhost.com host name (usually [your domain name].sitemasonhost.com.  If you are in doubt, then you probably do not have a secure certificate and should point www to web.sitemasonhost.com.
  • Point the apex record (probably "@" or "example.com" in your DNS management system) to 54.200.163.35 (A record).  Note: do NOT point www to this IP!  Only the @ record, if you need and/or want it, should be an A record (to an IP address).  The apex record is what makes "http://example.com" redirect to "http://www.example.com").  It will do nothing more than redirect to www.  Your website is not available at 54.200.163.35,

IMPORTANT NOTE

It is of critical importance that www (or whatever host name you use for your website, which is typically "www") is a CNAME record pointing to web.sitemasonhost.com. This has been the only supported setting since 2007.  If www is an A record pointing to an IP address, it is incorrect.  The reason that the entry must be a CNAME record is two-fold:

  1. Sitemason uses many web servers, not just one. Each web server may or may not be publicly-accessible, but all of them sit behind a series of advanced load balancers.  These load balancers are accessible via a host name, not an IP address.  The IP address of each load balancer changes regularly.  If this happens and you're pointing your website to an IP address, your site will not be reachable.
  2. A CNAME record allows us to make necessary updates to our server configuration with no disruption to your website's availability and with no need for you to be bothered with making changes.

In short, it's a more-advanced solution than one IP that, when used properly, provides greater reliability and convenience.

But, my DNS utility does not allow me to set an A record for www, can't I just point it to 54.200.163.35 or an IP of one of your web servers?

No.  This may seem like a fine solution and in fact may work right now, but it will fail at some point down the road, leaving your website inaccessible to the world.  Why would it fail?  Because we may very well take that server out of service, replace it, or reconfigure our servers, leaving that IP invalid (or pointing to someone else's website when it gets reassigned to someone else).  Don't let this happen to you, just remember:  www must point to web.sitemasonhost.com and all will be well.

If your DNS service does not support this, there is an easy solution that is included at no additional cost for all Sitemason customers: set your domain to use Sitemason's name servers (ns1.sitemason.com, ns2.sitemason.com, and ns3.sitemason.com) and manage your domain through Sitemason's DNS Manager.  Please see the section on Pointing DNS to Sitemason's Name Servers for information, then see the appropriate section for accessing the Sitemason DNS Manager.

DNS errors can be extremely frustrating, inconvenient, and cause errors and downtime for your website. If you are unsure about what to do, please consult your IT department for guidance.  However, it is also important to remember: Sitemason cannot help you with your DNS server or its settings. 

Closing Comments

Though DNS changes usually propagate quickly, they can take up to a day to complete.  If you are in a corporate environment and are noticing delays, you could have an internal name server that is not properly allowing cached lookups to expire.  Check with your IT staff to troubleshoot this scenario.  This support document outlines some basic troubleshooting steps.

Have more questions? Submit a request

1 Comments

  • 0
    Avatar
    Travis Graham

    October 14, 2013 Update

    On October 14, 2013, Sitemason moved our servers to a new facility.  For customers using Sitemason for DNS services, there are no DNS changes to make!  For customers using their own DNS, there could be.

    - If you use the apex (@) entry, it used to point to 174.129.247.223 and needs to be updated to point to 54.200.163.35.  We have a temporary proxy in place to address this.

    - If you have www set to web.sitemasonhost.com per the instructions above, there is nothing you need to do!  However, if you have www pointing to 174.129.247.223 (or ANY IP address for that matter), it MUST be a CNAME record, pointing to web.sitemasonhost.com.  Please see the above "Important Note" for clarification.

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