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A Complete Guide to DNS Propagation in 2022

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Written by:Suryanarayan Pal

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You make a few changes to your DNS and are eager to see their reflections. Minutes, hours, and even days pass by but no reflections are yet to be seen.

More often than not, it is caused by Propagation Delay which is in turn caused by your DNS zone settings. These two concepts come under another topic called DNS propagation.

So to clear up the confusion, this guide will discuss what is DNS propagation, how it affects DNS changes, and ways to make the process as fast as possible.

Table of contents

What is DNS propagation?

DNS propagation is the time required for DNS changes to reflect all around the world and not just in some parts of the world. Your changes need to be updated on all the ISPs that your domain comes in contact with.

“Why are there many ISPs involved? Can’t it get updated just in my authoritative DNS zone which hosts my website?” Good questions! DNS propagation can be confusing at times due to its technicality. So let’s understand how DNS propagation works in simple terms.

How does DNS propagation work?

We’ve to learn how DNS works before moving on to DNS propagation. You may already know that computers only understand numbers, not letters. So when you type an address in a search bar, the browser looks for the IP address (which is numbers separated by periods) of that web address.

First, the browser checks the local DNS cache for the corresponding IP address. If it fails to find it there, the request is then forwarded to many servers across the globe. If no ISPs have the required IP, then the request finally reaches to authoritative DNS server which definitely contains the IP address. Then it is retrieved from there and returned to the browser, which then loads the corresponding web page with help of this IP address.

Coming to the DNS propagation, whenever you make changes in your DNS zone, it must get updated in all involved servers in the world. Since many ISPs are involved in the process, if some ISPs don’t get updated with new information, they may still show the old ones to users who request it. So all servers must get updated to complete the DNS propagation process.

Confused? Don’t worry! Few people get DNS propagation on their first read, so read it a few more times and it’ll all make sense.

But if you’ve made some sense on your first try, congrats smart guy (or gal)! But even after making sense of it, still, some questions may be circling your mind. Well, you’re not alone.

The DNS community is eager to learn about DNS propagation and some questions get asked over and over again. That’s why below we’ve answered some common questions related to DNS propagation.

DNS propagation FAQs

Here are the commonly asked questions about DNS propagation:

1. How long does DNS propagation take?

This can take up to 72 hours to see changes all around the world.

2. Why does DNS propagation take so long?

This is because different ISPs have different intervals in which they update their DNS cache system. Some may do it frequently while others may do it occasionally causing extreme delay.

Another reason is the Time To Live (TTL) period present in your DNS settings. If you’ve set this number too high (e.g., 86400 seconds), ISPs will look for any changes in your DNS once every 24 hours which again causes you to wait too long.

3. How to boost the DNS propagation time?

Set a small number as your TTL period (e.g., 300 seconds), so ISPs can look for any changes in your DNS every 5 minutes. You still may need to wait for a couple of hours to see this TTL change as the previous 24 hour TTL will be still present in ISPs and after the period is over, the new TTL value will be updated.

4. How do I know when DNS propagation is done?

You can’t really tell when DNS propagation is completed as there are many ISPs are involved. But you can still use DNS propagation checkers to check the status in many parts of the world.

5. What is a DNS propagation checker?

These are the online tools that check your DNS changes against selected nameservers located in different parts of the world. While these tools may not give you the full picture of your DNS propagation, they are still useful to know how your DNS changes have propagated in different geographical regions.

The below list discusses 5 DNS propagation checkers that you can use to check your DNS propagation status. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

5 DNS propagation checkers

Let’s discuss how to check your DNS propagation status with these five tools:

1. DNS checker

Follow these steps to check DNS propagation status:

  1. Go to DNSchecker.

  2. Enter the hostname in the search bar.

  3. Select the record type from the dropdown.

  4. Click Search.

It’ll show you the details of that record present in DSN servers of different locations.

2. Whatsmydns

Follow these steps to check DNS propagation status:

  1. Go to Whatsmydns.

  2. Enter the hostname in the search bar.

  3. Select the record type from the dropdown.

  4. Click Search.

It’ll show you the details of that record present in DSN servers of different locations.

3. DNS lookup

Follow these steps to check DNS propagation status:

  1. Go to Dns lookup.

  2. Enter the IP address or hostname.

  3. Select the record type from the dropdown.

  4. Click Check.

It’ll show you the details of that record present in DSN servers of different locations.

4. DNS map

Follow these steps to check DNS propagation status:

  1. Go to DNS map.

  2. Enter the hostname.

  3. Select the record type from the dropdown.

  4. Click Check DNS propagation.

With an interactive map, it’ll show you the details of that record present in DSN servers of different locations.

5. DNS propagation

Follow these steps to check DNS propagation status:

  1. Go to DNS propagation.

  2. Enter the domain name.

  3. Select the record type from the dropdown.

  4. Click Start.

It’ll show you the details of that record present in DSN servers of different locations.

Wrap up

DNS propagation involves many members and you’ve to wait for days until all members respond. So next time when you’re about to make some DNS changes, reduce the TTL value two days before making the changes, so ISPs would be checking for DNS changes frequently (every five minutes if you have set it to) and your changes will be quickly reflected all around the world.

The DNS mapping method is useful in many situations apart from DNS propagation. Reverse DNS lookup is one such scenario. Using this method, you can find a lot of potential leads for your business. Curious? Check out our complete guide on reverse DNS lookup to know in detail.

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✍️ Author -Suryanarayan Pal

Suryanarayan has seven years of experience in email marketing for B2B, SaaS, and e-commerce industries. He specializes in email deliverability and project management.

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