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Not many businesses understand what their website’s DNS (Domain Name System) is or the purpose it serves. A site’s DNS may also get confused with a hosting service.

While the gritty details of your website’s DNS set-up might be better managed by IT, you will at some point need to access your DNS. And I’m sure you will agree that any account that controls the operation of your company’s website and email is critical to document.

Let’s drill down what DNS is and how you can find your credentials in the case you’d ever need to make changes to your DNS records.

What is DNS?

When we look up or search the internet for a website, we just type in the designated URL to reach our intended destination. (ex.

DNS (Domain Name System) allows us to point websites to these easy to remember URLs and not the more complex IP addresses which identify a site.

Once a domain is purchased, you need to set up DNS records for it. This allows for email hosting and other services to be used with the domain. The DNS records are stored by a DNS hosting provider, most commonly provided by the domain name registrar used to make the purchase such as GoDaddy, or Network Solutions.

What is the Difference Between DNS and Hosting?

DNS, as stated above, translates a domain name to an IP address. It also handles the direction of email for a domain name using DNS records.

Website hosting plays a different role – providing server storage for website files and the IP address necessary to identify a site. Often, your web hosting provider will enter your IP address into DNS. When website visitors type in your URL, the web browser goes to the hosting provider’s server and populates the website pages stored on the server.

When Would You Need to Change Your DNS Records?

DNS records seldomly require adjustments, but there are a few scenarios in which you would need to log into your DNS hosting account to make changes.

  • Changing Hosting Companies – When a website is moved from one hosting provider to another, DNS records will need to be changed. In this circumstance, DNS is updated to send traffic to the correct website.
  • Developing a New Website – When a website gets a new look or design, DNS is updated when the site goes live to point visitors to the correct location. This new site is often created in a dev environment.

If you aren’t sure of your DNS host credentials, or more importantly who is responsible for your DNS hosting, here is how to quickly begin your research.

First, look up your website’s DNS host using tools like or MXToolbox. These online resources will share your DNS host with you by just typing in your URL.

websites like can easily assist in identifying DNS records

Once you have identified your website’s DNS host, you can reach out to the hosting provider to retrieve account login information. DNS hosts may require several steps to verify your identity and ownership of the website DNS account, especially if you have no other information regarding the login. After you have gained control of your DNS account, be sure to document your login credentials, along with other important website related accounts.

For more information about the digital credentials your business should control, check out our blog for a downloadable credentials checklist.

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Beth is our VP of Digital Marketing Strategy who, besides drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, helps clients generate more business. Whether they’ve partnered with Proximity Marketing for a decade or just joined the family, Beth helps clients achieve success and achieve measurable results.

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