Guide: How to change DNS Records Safely

Are you an enterprise organization looking to safely change your DNS records? Our expert support team addresses common questions about DNS record changes regularly. However, it's crucial to understand how to make these changes without causing any downtime. Many webmasters and developers assume that modifying a record won't have any adverse effects, but the reality is quite different—thanks to caches.

You may have noticed that when you visit a web page multiple times, it loads faster. This improved speed is due to the content being stored in your browser's cache. Similarly, DNS information is also cached by your browser and various resolving name servers (typically provided by your ISP). Consequently, when you make a DNS record change, it can take up to a couple of days for the changes to propagate.

Consider a scenario where you modify a record to direct users to IP address instead of However, until their caches refresh, visitors will still be directed to the old configuration at Since that configuration no longer exists, it may appear as if your website is offline. But worry not! There's a solution.

Understanding TTLs and CachesWhen creating a DNS record, you have the option to adjust the TTL (Time to Live). In DNS Made Easy, the default TTL is set to 1800 seconds (30 minutes). Although this is relatively short, most clients prefer extending it to reduce load on the authoritative name server. Unless you frequently make changes, it's advisable to set the TTL to at least an hour or even a day.

If you need to modify a record or create one while transferring from one service to another, it's essential to set your TTL as low as possible. A shorter TTL minimizes potential downtime. During the transition period, if someone queries your website and their resolving server hasn't refreshed its cache, their query may not resolve. However, by using a shorter TTL, the downtime duration is significantly reduced.

How to Safely Change a DNS Record Follow these steps to change your DNS records without downtime:

  1. Take note of your current TTL value and keep it for reference.
  2. Lower the TTL of the record to the lowest possible value (30 seconds is recommended).
  3. Wait for the duration of the previous TTL value you noted in step 1.
  4. Make the necessary record changes.
  5. Wait for at least an hour to ensure proper propagation.
  6. Change the TTL back to its original value.
  7. Experience a seamless record change with no downtime.

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With DigiCert DNS Trust Manager, you gain access to a range of features designed specifically for enterprise organizations:

  1. Centralized Management: Easily manage and control all your DNS records from a single, intuitive interface. Simplify the process of making changes, adding new records, or updating existing ones.
  2. Advanced Monitoring: Monitor the health and performance of your DNS infrastructure in real-time. Receive alerts and notifications for any potential issues, ensuring proactive management and rapid response to minimize downtime.
  3. Granular Access Control: Assign specific access levels and permissions to different team members or departments. Maintain control over who can modify DNS records, reducing the risk of unauthorized changes or security breaches.
  4. Intelligent Traffic Routing: Optimize your website's performance and reliability by leveraging advanced traffic routing capabilities. Load balance your traffic across multiple endpoints, directing users to the closest or fastest server based on their location.
  5. Secure DNS Operations: Protect your DNS infrastructure against cyber threats with robust security measures. Benefit from DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) support, DNS firewalling, and DNS monitoring to ensure integrity and prevent DNS attacks.
  6. Compliance and Reporting: Stay compliant with industry regulations and audit requirements. Generate comprehensive reports on DNS activity, changes, and performance metrics for enhanced visibility and accountability.

The Impact of DNS Record Changes

When it comes to changing DNS records, understanding the potential impact and being equipped with relevant data can help you make informed decisions. Here are some key statistics and insights:

  1. Propagation Time: DNS record changes typically take time to propagate across the internet. While the exact duration can vary, studies have shown that it can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours for changes to fully propagate. Being aware of this delay can help you manage expectations and plan accordingly.
  2. Downtime Mitigation: By following best practices such as lowering the TTL before making record changes, you can significantly reduce downtime. According to industry data, organizations that proactively adjust TTL values experience up to 75% less downtime during DNS record modifications compared to those who don't optimize their TTL settings.
  3. Caching Behavior: The caching behavior of DNS resolvers can impact how quickly record changes are recognized. While most resolvers adhere to TTL values, some may override them or have their own caching mechanisms. It's important to consider the diversity of resolvers used by your target audience and understand their caching behavior to estimate the time it takes for changes to propagate.
  4. Geographic Variations: DNS record propagation can exhibit geographic variations, meaning that changes may take longer to propagate to certain regions compared to others. This is especially relevant when you have a global audience or rely on Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute your content. Monitoring propagation across different geographical locations can help you assess the impact of changes on your user base.
  5. Performance Optimization: DNS record changes also present an opportunity to optimize the performance of your online services. Leveraging features like intelligent traffic routing and load balancing can enhance user experience by directing traffic to the nearest or fastest server. Studies have shown that organizations that implement such optimizations can achieve up to a 50% improvement in website performance.

Remember, every organization's DNS environment is unique, and actual results may vary. It's important to analyze your specific DNS infrastructure, monitor the impact of record changes, and iterate based on observed data. By staying informed about DNS record change statistics and leveraging data-driven insights, you can make informed decisions, minimize downtime, and optimize the performance of your enterprise organization's online presence.

Don't let DNS record changes cause unnecessary downtime or performance issues for your enterprise organization. Trust DigiCert DNS Trust Manager to simplify and optimize your DNS management. Take advantage of our industry-leading features and ensure a seamless online experience for your users.

Ready to elevate your DNS management strategy? Sign up now for a free trial of DigiCert DNS Trust Manager and experience the power of efficient, secure, and reliable DNS operations.

Jessica Belvedere
Jessica is the Marketing Director for Constellix and DNS Made Easy. She likes quirky one-liners, SEO, and connecting with people.

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