What is DNS propagation?

By on October 23rd, 2015

The term DNS stands for Domain Name System. Because of the DNS, we do not have to remember the IP addresses to visit a specific location on the internet. We can simply type “interserver.net” in the browser to visit the Interserver company website. But the domain name, interserver.net points to the IP address of the server on which it is hosted. Every domain or subdomain points to a specific IP address on which a website files are hosted.

Just like we have web servers to serve our website files and database servers to manage data, we have DNS servers to associate the domain names with IP addresses. A file that contains the information about the domain and the IP addresses is called the DNS zone file.

Let’s say we are migrating a website from one web hosting company to another. Now, each web server has one or multiple IP addresses that we can use to reach that specific server. It means that we are migrating our website from one IP address to another. It means that we have to update the IP address in our DNS zone. After updating the DNS records,¬†it might take around 24 hours¬†for DNS propagation to happen.

You will see this message on almost every web hosting provider or domain name manager. It is because there is a valid reason behind this long propagation time. Let’s see why it takes so long.

Why DNS Propagation takes too much time?

To understand the concept of DNS propagation, we first have to understand how the Internet works. You see, there are thousands of ISP nodes that keep the cache of DNS records. It means that when you first visit a website, your ISP will cache the IP address associated with the domain name. It is important because a cache can decrease the load on a DNS server as well as it can improve the speed.

So, until a cache is updated at the ISP level, you will be redirected to the older server. Once the cache is updated or cleared, an ISP node can again request a DNS server to send the updated IP address of a website.

The cached DNS entries are stored for a specific period of time. And the cache refresh intervals might differ from node to node. It means that after updating DNS records If I can see a website on a new server, the DNS propagation is done at my location. But if the ISP node you are using has a cache that points to the older server, you will not be able to access your website on a new server.

Overall, it takes about 24 hours to update DNS records in the whole world. So, this is how it happens and why the DNS propagation takes around 24 hours to happen.

But, it is not always a good thing to wait for 24 hours in case you want to instantly update your website. Also, we have to get rid of this cache to check if our website is working or not on the new server.

How to avoid waiting?

There are two ways you can make this process faster. The first way is to use the VPN in your browser. You can use the VPN browser extension to change your location temporarily. In most cases, you will be redirected to the new server.

 

Conclusion: So, this is how DNS propagation works. And, DNS propagation will always take some time to happen. In most cases, the DNS propagation will only take 30-60 minutes, However, sometimes it can also take longer. We recommend you to wait for at least 24 hours before taking any action regarding the DNS update. We hope this article was helpful to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to use the comment section.

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