Once a Windows DNS server is up and has been configured with a forward and reverse lookup zone it is ready to be configured with DNS records. This article will start with a brief overview of the primary types of DNS records and will then walk through the configuration of basic DNS record types in Windows Server 2008 r2 and Windows Server 2012.
(Need to catch up? Besure to check out our other articles in this series: “Installing the DNS Server Role on Windows Server 2008 R2,” “Installing the DNS Server Role on Windows Server 2012,” and “Configuring Forward and Reverse Lookup Zones in Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012.”)
Basic DNS Record Types
There are a few different types of records that are primarily used for most of the devices on the Internet and inside company intranets. The following is a list of these primary record types:
- Address (A) record – This type of record is used to translate a domain name to a specific IPv4 address.
- Address (AAAA) record – This type of record is used to translate a domain name to a specific IPv6 address.
- Canonical name (CNAME) record – This type of record is used to specify a secondary name (commonly referred to as alias) for an existing A or AAAA record.
- Mail Exchange (MX) record – This type of record is used to direct the mail communications for specific domains on the Internet. The record includes a priority and mail exchange agent domain name (this references an existing A, AAAA, or CNAME).
- Start of Authority (SOA) record – This type of record is typically configured with the creation of a zone and includes authoritative information about a specific domain name.
- Name Server (NS) record – This delegates the authoritative name servers for a specific domain, this record is also typically configured with the creation of the zone (in simple configurations).
Basic DNS Record Walkthrough
This walkthrough is on Windows Server 2012, but similar steps can be taken on Windows Server 2008 R2. As a starting point, the Server Manager dashboard is used, but any method can be used to access the DNS Manager. Figure 1 below shows that the DNS Server role has been installed and can be selected from the left pane.
- Once DNS has been selected, the available DNS servers will be displayed. Right-click on the target server and select DNS Manager, as shown in Figure 2 below.
This will now bring up the DNS Manager. In the image below you can see that both a forward and reverse lookup zone have been created.
- Choose the forward lookup zone, which will bring up a list of the existing zone records. Figure 4 below shows the basic records that are automatically created by the DNS configuration wizard. The first record that will be created is an A record linking the parent domain name (testing.local in this case) to the IPv4 address 192.168.1.100.
- Right-click in the right pane and select New Host (A or AAAA). This will bring up a window as shown below in Figure 5.
- Now fill out the IP address textbox with the target address of 192.168.1.100.
- Click on the Create associated pointer (PTR) record and select Add Host.
- This will display the successful creation of the record. Select OK and bring back the Add Host window in case multiple records need to be created
- Select Close. The screen will now show a new A record with the information that was entered.
- Click on the reverse zone that was previously created. Notice that a new PTR record now exists (as shown below in Figure 7). This record will allow a reverse lookup of the 192.168.1.100 record to the testing.local domain name.
- Click back on the forward zone, then right-click on the right pane again and select New Alias (CNAME). This will bring up the window shown in Figure 8.
- At this point enter www in the Alias Name textbox and enter testing.local in the Fully Qualified Domain name (FQDN) for target host textbox. This will create an alias record for www.testing.local that maps to the A record for testing.local.
- Select Next, this will bring back the main DNS Manager window (as shown in Figure 9) with a new CNAME record.
- The next record type that will be created is a MX record. Right-click on the right pane and select New Mail Exchanger, which will bring up the window shown in Figure 10. From this window the only thing that will be configured is the “Fully qualified domain name (FQDN) of mail server” textbox. This is because the mail being routed is for the whole testing.local domain and not specific sub-domains. The name that is placed in this textbox is the name of the mail server, in this case mail.testing.local. (An A record for mail.testing.local was added previous to this step but was not covered in the walkthrough).
- Once complete, select OK. This will bring back the main DNS Manager window showing a new MX record.
The last record that will be shown created is an AAAA record, which is similar to the A record but works with an IPv6 address instead of an IPv4 address.
- Right-click on the right pane and select New Host (A or AAAA). This will bring up the window shown in Figure 12 (and Figure 5). In this window enter the IPv6 address 2001:DB8::1 to link to the parent domain name.
- Once complete select Add Host, then select OK.
- Select Done to get back to the main DNS Manager window shown below. This window shows that a new host record has been created using an IPv6 address.
And finally these records can be tested by using the Windows nslookup command. As shown below, the various records are looking up correctly.
The basics of DNS are not hard to pick up, but DNS can quickly become complex in larger organizations with multiple DNS servers that serve only portions of the internal networks. However, on smaller networks that use only a few portions the configuration can be very simple and can be easily managed by someone with a good understanding of networks and how DNS operates. Hopefully this article will help in learning the Windows DNS Server role and how it can be configured to meet the requirements of an organization.