One of the first big steps you take in opening your online store is setting up your DNS, or Domain Name System. Here’s a beginning post to get you better acquainted with it.
Understanding and setting up your DNS is an integral part of getting started with your online store. In this post, we’ll go through the basics of DNS, as well as walk through some of the beginning steps of setting it up to work with your domain name.
Let’s start by defining what DNS is and what it can do for you:
What is DNS? What does it do?
DNS stands for “Domain Name System,” and to understand what it does, we first have to understand what domain names are and the differences between the way humans and computers locate websites.
For humans, a domain name is what we type into an address bar to get to a website. For example, if you’d like to go to our website, you’d type in www.volusion.com. That makes “www.volusion.com” our domain name.
However, computers cannot locate websites using their domain names. Unlike for a person, the word “volusion” doesn’t mean anything to a computer. Instead, computers need the address of the website communicated to them through numbers, which is the website’s IP address.
So if people use domain names and computers use IP addresses, how is anyone supposed to get anywhere they want to go on the web?
Here’s where DNS comes in. DNS is what translates domain names into IP addresses so computers can understand them and get users to the websites they want to visit.
How does DNS work?
At a basic level, DNS works like this:
- A customer enters a domain name (e.g. www.myvolusionstore.com) into their browser
- The customer’s computer network sends a DNS request to Volusion’s name servers
- Volusion’s name servers look up the records stored for www.myvolusionstore.com, finds the IP address of your store, and sends it to the customer’s computer
- The customer can now see your store’s homepage
How do I set up DNS with my Volusion store?
DNS setup procedures differ depending on where you bought your domain name.
If you bought your domain name from Volusion, then you’re done! The domain name is ready to work with our server. Once your order has been completed, you’ll receive an email stating your domain name is ready, and you’re all set to go.
If you bought your domain name from a third party, you’ll need to “point” it to the Volusion server. “Pointing” your Domain Name Server means redirecting it to Volusion’s servers, and ensures that you can keep your domain name registered with a third party while still having your website hosted by Volusion.
In order to point your domain name server, you’ll first have to contact the company you purchased your domain name from and either locate the DNS settings in their control panel or contact the registrar directly for assistance. Once you’re in a position to change the information, there are four name servers you need to point to:
To learn more about pointing your domain name server, check out our Knowledge Base article on DNS.
If I used a third party domain name provider, what do I do after I “point” my DNS?
The first thing you’ll do is wait. Though a little anticlimactic, it typically takes around 48 to 72 hours for changes to take effect.
Once you’ve pointed your DNS and the changes have taken effect, you can configure your Volusion store to resolve to your domain name as follows:
- Go to Settings > Company in your Admin Area
- Under Company Information, select your store’s domain name from the Domain Name dropdown menu
- Click Save
Once you do this, the URL in your browser will display your domain name while directing your customers to the Volusion servers.
Although there are more facets and details of DNS, understanding the basics and setting it up with your Volusion store is easily doable. If you’re curious to learn more, check our Knowledge Base article to delve deeper into DNS and what it does for you.