How to add or edit a DNS record in Plesk

Managing DNS definitely sounds like one of the more difficult tasks when it comes to hosting a domain, but don’t worry! It’s actually not all that difficult once you get through the highly technical sounding terminology. I often say that DNS is a bit like an onion: There’s many layers to it, and it’s very likely that you’ll cry if you try to get through them all.

DNS is, at its simplest, a list of records that specify name X points to this IP address: 1.2.3.4. You’ll likely encounter A records the most; they’re used to point your domain to where its website is hosted. Any given domain could have just a couple or many DNS records. See below for the different types of records and how they work, as well as how to configure them in Plesk.

We’ll leave the bulk of how DNS works for another time, but this guide will help you with the remarkably easy (albeit daunting) task of updating, adding, or removing DNS records for your domain in Plesk.

Important: due to the manner in which the global DNS system works, any changes made to your domain’s DNS records can take up to 48 hours to complete, though often the changes are visible within just a few hours. Please be patient!

How to find your DNS settings in Plesk

First, we’ll need to log in to Plesk, after which we’ll be taken to the Websites and Domains screen. Click on “DNS Settings” for the domain you wish to edit.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.30.59 PM

Now you have several options; you can add, edit, or remove a DNS record, or even turn off the DNS service / switch it to slave mode as seen here:

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.31.13 PM

Removing a DNS Record

To remove a record, simply check the box beside the ones you wish to remove and click the Remove button. After doing so, you will be presented with the option to finalize your changes — make sure you do this or the alterations will not take effect.

 

Adding or Editing a DNS Record

To edit a DNS record, simply click on it and you will see a page similar to the one below.

To add a new DNS entry, click the “Add Record” button and you’ll be taken to the following page:

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.31.24 PM

There is a “Record type” drop-down which allows you to select the type of DNS entry to add. There are many options available; select the type of record below to see the individual processes in more detail:

A record

The “A” record is the most common type of record for DNS – it links a domain name (or subdomain) to an IPv4 Address. An IPv4 address is the 12-digit number you often see when dealing with websites or even your own home network. It is in the format: xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx

When adding an A record there are two input boxes; the subdomain and the IP address. If you input “testing” in the subdomain box, and a corresponding IP address in the IP address box, you will have created a subdomain “testing.yourdomain.com” pointing at that IP address. Enter the information and click “OK”.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 12.50.08 PM

AAAA record

This process is the exact same as above, however the “AAAA” indicates that it is an IPv6 address. These addresses appear in the following example format: 2002:7b7b:7b7b::1

CNAME record

A CNAME (or Canonical Name) record is an alias. When a website visitor’s browser or mail user’s app looks up the entered subdomain, the DNS system will respond by indicating that the IP address for the subdomain is the same as whatever target you enter here.

The most common use for a CNAME record is to indicate that the www subdomain shares the same IP address as the root domain record. For example www.websavers.ca is hosted on the same IP as websavers.ca. Note that this doesn’t mean it will forward all requests for www.websavers.ca to websavers.ca — this action is up to the web server! See here to learn how to set your preferred domain.

Enter the subdomain (or leave blank to apply a CNAME for the root domain itself) and put the target for the alias in the “Canonical domain” field.

MX record

The MX (Mail eXchange) record is incredibly important; this record tells email servers where to send mail sent to your domain. In our default setup it is pointed to “mail.yourdomain.com”, which is set up as your mail server. This may need to be changed if you are using Office 365 or Google Apps for Business for your email.

The MX DNS screen has three fields:

  • The domain (or subdomain) to receive mail for.
    • This should be left blank to configure mail on the main domain
  • The destination mail server.
    • In our cases, this is mail.yourdomain.com
  • The priority of the mail exchange server.

Priority is an entirely new concept for us here; it’s used in the case of having backup mail servers – as you would if you used Google Apps for Business. It basically says “Send mail here, if it fails there, try this one. If that fails, try this one.” If you’re configuring a MX, the instructions you’re following should also give you examples of what the priorities should be.

PTR record

This section is woefully blank as PTR records do not work with our setup; if you have a dedicated IP address with Websavers and want a rDNS configured, please reach out to us directly.

TXT record (also SPF Record)

The TXT Record is one of the most commonly edited records for new webmasters. Why is this? Because it’s invaluable for verifying domain ownership for companies such as Google, Microsoft, GoDaddy, and other online service providers.

It’s also the type of DNS record used to publish SPF records, which is an excellent method of curbing email forgery. Read more about how SPF works here.

In most cases you do not require to have an entry for the domain portion of this; Google, for example, wants this section left blank. In the TXT field, the second field on the screen, you enter the verification string provided to you.

SRV record

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.07.24 PM

This is the SRV screen. It is the most daunting of all the DNS entries, and is generally only needed for advanced users. If you’re setting up an auto discover service for Office 365, or Skype for Business, or another service that requires a SRV record: Don’t panic! It’s not quite as bad as you may think.

Often, a SRV record is displayed in the following format:

_sip._tcp.example.com

This format, when broken down, means:
Service name: sip
Protocol name: tcp
Domain name: example.com

So, if you’re presented with something like this:

_autodiscover._tcp.yourdomain.com  priority 100, weight 1, port 443, yourdomain.autodiscover.outlook.com

That just means that in the above fields, you would put in:

Service name: autodiscover
Protocol name: tcp
Domain: (leave blank)
Priority: 100 (Plesk maxes out at 50, go ahead and use 50)
Weight: 5 (Plesk goes from 0 to 5 before increasing further)
Target port: 443
Target host: yourdomain.autodiscover.outlook.com

With this information, a mail client – for example – trying to auto detect settings, checks out your domain, it will see that for an “autodiscover” request, it should connect to yourdomain.autodiscover.outlook.com on port 443 to get the information – pretty clever!

Allen is a self professed geek and technology lover. He's always playing with one of his various websites, and loves helping customers with theirs. He can often be found with a coffee (light roast, please) in his hand and a smile on his face... or with a plate of bacon. Mmm, bacon.

2 Comments

  1. Glyn on January 20, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    Nice article which solved a simple, but critical and infuriating problem.

    I was trying to add a couple of SRV records for Office 365 Business at my host using Plesk.

    I couldn’t use the Office 365 automatic DNS management because I use subdomains and you have to manage your own DNS settings to be able to do so.

    Microsoft ask you to add two records, _sip and _sipfederationtls. However, Plesk adds the underscores automatically so you end up with __sip and __sipfederationtls, so the answer is use sip and sipfederationtls and all is well.

    That was one of those can’t see the wood for the trees, I’m a dev not a sys admin, desk-head-banging periods.

    Your article helped me see what was staring me in the face.

    Thanks.

    • Allen Pooley on January 22, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      Believe me, I understand that pain! Glad the article could help 🙂

Leave a Comment