DNS Propogation: What is it and how long does it take?

DNS Propogation: What is it and how long does it take?

This has to be the most frequently asked question of our support team.  We will tell you that it normally takes up to 48 hours, but can some times take longer for your website to show up under your domain name.  Please have patience with this process, as most of it is out of our control.  This article will describe DNS in more depth, how propogation works, and why sometimes it takes just a few minutes and somtimes can take several days or more.

What is DNS?

Domain Name System is the full name for the ackronym DNS. Many people also refer to it as Doman Name Server, while techinically incorrect the two are not far off, and essentially work together.  DNS transalates the physical address of your website servers IP address (something like to your www.mywebsite.com domain name. This system is what allows for navigation and domain names as you currently know it.  Each hosting company and ISP has a domain name server.  When you set up your website and hosting with us, we automatically create a master DNS entry which points your requested URL to your websites public IP address.  If you registered your own domain name we will request that you point the DNS records at your registrar (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc.) to ours.  We update our name server records several times per hour, so most of the time changes within our internal system will appear to resolve almost instantly.  When this is all done properly, normally changes will reflect world wide in +/- 48 hours.

Why is it taking so long?

Think of DNS as a network of individual phone books, all around the world. When you make a change to one phone book (ie. GoDadd's book), all of the others need to update theirs as well.  This is because you and your customers do not access your website directly through GoDaddy.  When you type a URL in your browser, first the request is sent to your router, then your cable modem, then your ISP, then usually bounces through several other ISPs around the world, before making it all the way to your website, then returning that information back to your computer.  Think of driving your car accross the country, stopping at several intervals to check the address and get directions in local phone books.  If you come accross a phone book which still has the old address and has not been updated, you will be sent in the wrong direction and will not get to your final destination.

This simplified explanation of the issue is normally the root cause of most "my website isn't showing up" issues.  Many ISPs cache or store DNS information for quick access, which they do not update on a regular basis. This is good for fast performance, but causes much time to pass before their chache's are refreshed with the new information.  In some instances it even has to be done manually.  When this happens, you will see your website intermittently depending on where you are in the world and what ISP provider you are using.  If someone else can see your website, but you cant, it is usually a DNS issue.  

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