Configuring DNS For A Domain With Plesk

Configuring DNS with Plesk

DNS stands for Domain Name System and it’s a naming system arranged in a tree-like fashion that turns human-readable domain names into the strings of numbers known as IP addresses that identify web resources. This kind of translation is known as resolving. When adding a domain name (with Websites & Domains > Add Domain), look no further than Plesk to handle resolution duties for your resources. It’s capable of performing three very useful roles:

  • acting as a backup server
  • directly processing translation requests
  • handing them on to a remote server

The backup server role can be changed for existing domain names (Websites & Domains > domain name > DNS Settings). We’ll examine each role and explain how to assign them in the next section.

DNS Name Resolving

The whole domain name system is arranged as a hierarchy. It’s known as the domain namespace. This global system holds every possible domain name and it’s divided into logical “domain zones.” A domain zone is a bit of the namespace that stores the addresses of specific domains. Addresses are kept in a file on another name server that has authority for that zone. So, for example, when a browser tries to access www.forinstance.com, it retrieves its IP address from a server that has authority for the forinstance.com zone. Check the related documentation for additional information about how DNS works.

Plesk as a Master DNS Server

After you buy a domain, a registrar lets you go into the settings for the DNS zone that’s responsible for your domain and its subdomains. You can choose between allowing the registrar to look after it or handing that responsibility on to Plesk. If you go with that option, then you’ll be able to manage a zone from your own account.

To look at what records are in a domain’s DNS zone right now, and to also add, modify, and remove records, go to Websites & Domains > DNS Settings.

Click Add Record to add a record, and then click on its name to modify it. For removing records, look for the checkbox next to its name and click Remove. A note of caution though—getting rid of certain records could have a detrimental effect on how your domain functions. For instance, if you get rid of the A record then this would mean it won’t be able to resolve anymore. If you do make changes that you later want to undo, just click Reset to Default to roll back to the default DNS records. This undoes all the changes that have been made to the DNS zone and restores it in line with the DNS template for the whole server. It’s worth remembering that when going through this procedure any custom records that you might have added to the zone will disappear.

You’ll also find the SOA record in the DNS zone. You can look at and make alterations to its record values by going to Websites & Domains > DNS Settings > SOA. If you put a check in the Use serial number format recommended by IETF and RIPE checkbox this will alter how Plesk stores SOA serial numbers, changing them from the Unix timestamp to the YYYYMMDDNN format suggested by RIPE. A lot of domain registrars, usually ones in Europe may require you to use this format, so you can always try enabling this option if your registrar won’t allow your SOA serial number.

Plesk as a Slave DNS Server

If you’d like to give authority for your zone to a DNS server that you already have and you’re an advanced user, you can enable Plesk to act as a slave (or “secondary”) DNS server. In this situation, Plesk will hold a copy of your zone and you won’t be given the choice of managing it via the Customer Panel. Plesk’s DNS server is only used if your primary name server stops working for some reason.

To make the Plesk DNS server behave as a secondary name server:

  1. Go to Websites & Domains and click on the domain name so you can manage its DNS settings.
  2. Click on DNS Settings.
  3. Click on Master/Slave to switch DNS server mode.
  4. Click on Add Record.
  5. Type the IP address of the primary (master) DNS server.
  6. Click on OK, and then Update.
  7. Go through steps 2-6 again for each website that’s going to need a secondary name server on your server.

To make the Plesk DNS server work as your main backup:

  1. Go to Websites & Domains and click to choose a domain name so you can manage its DNS settings.
  2. Click DNS Settings.
  3. Click Master/Slave to go between DNS server modes.

The zone’s original resource records will be restored.

Registrar’s DNS Settings in Plesk

If you decide against using Plesk as a DNS server, you’ll need to undertake all zone management via a domain registrar’s site. Some registrars will permit remote DNS zone management. If that’s the case with your hosting provider, you’ll still have the opportunity to make changes to the DNS zone using the Customer Panel, irrespective of the location of your authoritative name server.

To turn off the Plesk DNS service for a site that currently uses external name servers:

  1. Go to Websites & Domains and click to choose a domain name so you can manage its DNS settings.
  2. Click DNS Settings.
  3. Click Disable.

When you turn off the DNS service for the zone the screen will refresh, leaving only a list of name servers. You can click on these links to validate how the zone configuration is validated on the external authoritative name servers.

If you would like to validate a zone configuration that’s maintained on authoritative name servers, follow these steps:

    1. Add the entries pointing to the appropriate name servers that are authoritative for the zone to the list: Click Add Record, choose a name server, click OK, and then click Update.
    2. Do this for every name server you want to test. The records will appear in the list.
    3. Click on the records that you’ve just created.

Plesk will recover the zone file from remote name servers and then check the resource records to ensure that the domain’s resources are correctly resolved. The results will be interpreted and displayed on the screen.

Additional Domain Operations

If your Customer Panel has billing system integration, then you might find that Plesk offers you these operations on domains:

  • Permission to set a password for accessing the domain management panel on a registrar’s site.
  • Locking and unlocking of a domain name when you want to transfer to another provider.
  • Altering contact information like domain registrant and various other details.
  • Altering DNS settings for domain zones served by a domain registrar.
  • Configuring automated renewal of the domain account with the domain name registration company.

For setting a new password to access your domain management Customer Panel on a registrar’s site:

  1. Go to your Account.
  2. Look for the domain name you want to change the settings for and click the Show Domain Info link next to it.
  3. Click Change Domain Password.
  4. Enter your new password and click OK.

To lock or unlock a domain name for transfer to another provider:

  1. Go to your Account.
  2. Look for the domain name you want to change a setting for and click the Show Domain Info link next to it.
  3. Click Change Registrar Lock Setting.
  4. To permit domain name transfer, uncheck the Lock checkbox and click OK.

To change domain owner’s contact, technical, administrative, or billing information:

  1. Go to Account.
  2. Find the domain name for which you want to change settings, and click the link Show Domain Info that’s next to it.
  3. Click Edit Contact Info.
  4. Go through the required changes and click OK.

To change DNS settings for a domain:

  1. Go to Account.
  2. Find the domain name you want to change the settings for and click the Show Domain Info link that’s next to it.
  3. Click Edit DNS Settings.
  4. Set the domain name servers that serve the DNS zone for your website and also the IP address of the server where the website is hosted.
  5. If your website’s DNS zone is served by your domain name registrar, then you can also detail other resource records that influence how your website’s services may be accessed using the Internet.
  6. To save your changes, click OK.

To configure automatic renewal of the domain name:

  1. Go to Account.
  2. Look for the domain name that you want to change the settings for and click the Show Domain Info link next to it.
  3. Click Automatic Domain Renewal.
  4. To permit auto-renewal of domain registration, select the Turn on auto renewal checkbox and click OK.

Server Management: IP Mapping Guideline

IP Mapping Guideline

When you migrate domains from one server to another, you’ll need to configure them so that they use the destination server’s IP addresses. This process is known as IP mapping, and it’s something that can be done either manually or automatically. For best results you’ll want to have a shared IP address on the server you’re migrating to for each shared IP address on the server you’re migrating from, and the same goes for dedicated IP addresses, too. When the migration is all done, go through the IP addresses that the Migrator assigned and re-assign any that might need attention.

Automatic IP Mapping

The IP mapping process is normally something that happens without the need for any user input, as part of the migration. Plesk Migrator tries to re-allocate the domains being moved to the IP addresses on the destination server in line with these rules:

  • A dedicated IP address that has not been allocated will be assigned to domains that were given a dedicated IP address on the source server, where possible. If not (perhaps because there aren’t any unallocated dedicated IP addresses left on the destination server), the default shared IP address will be used instead.
  • Plesk Migrator will try to assign domains that used the same shared IP address on the source server to a different shared IP address on the destination server, where at all possible. If this can’t be achieved (say, because there aren’t as many shared IP addresses on the destination server as there are on the source server), the default shared IP address will be used instead.

Alternatively, the IP mapping file or the migration list file can be used to go through the IP mapping process manually.

Note: different mapping methods can be combined. For instance, you can use the migration list to stipulate common mapping rules, and then specify particular addresses for certain domains using the mapping file.

Using the Mapping File for IP Mapping

The IP mapping is a plain text file that consists of a pair of columns of IP addresses separated by the whitespace character. Those in the left column are the ones on the server you’re migrating from. They get matched to the ones in the right-hand column, which are the corresponding IP addresses from the server you’re migrating to. The IP mapping file should only contain the IP addresses and no other information—not even comments—should be added to it. Blank lines are permitted though.

Here’s an example of the contents in an IP mapping file:

192.168.1.11 11.53.1.16

192.168.1.12 11.53.1.17

192.168.1.12 11.53.1.17

In this illustration, domains that use the IP address 192.168.1.11 get the IP address 11.53.1.16. Those with the IP addresses 192.168.1.12 and 192.168.1.12, get the IP address 11.53.1.17.

Once the mapping file has been prepared, you can give it to the Plesk Migrator by using this option:

--ip-mapping-file IP_MAPPING_FILE

where IP_MAPPING_FILE is the path to the mapping file (either relative or absolute to the current working directory).

IP Mapping Using the Migration List File

This way of doing IP mapping may be more complex but it gives you greater control over assigning IP addresses. When the file is ready you can edit it, referring to the samples below for reference:

IPv4: 11.53.1.16
domain1.tld
domain2.tld
IPv4: 11.53.1.17
domain3.tld

Here, domains domain1.tld and domain2.tld will be given the IP address 11.53.1.16. Domain domain3.tld will get the IP address 11.53.1.17.

IPv4: shared
domain1.tld
domain2.tld

Here, both domains are assigned a shared IP address.

IPv4: dedicated
domain1.tld
domain2.tld

With this one, each domain gets a randomly chosen dedicated IP address (there have to be no fewer than two unallocated dedicated IP addresses on the server being migrated to).

IPv4: auto
domain1.tld
domain2.tld

Here, each domain gets an IP address in accordance with the automatic IP mapping rules.

IPv6: none
domain1.tld
domain2.tld

In this instance, neither domain gets an IPv6 address, but IPv4 addresses can still be assigned (as a domain can’t be created without an IP address).

IPv4 and IPv6 IP addresses can be assigned to domains using the migration list file. Any domain can receive an IPv4 address, an IPv6 address, or both. When stipulating which IP address will be assigned to a domain, you can either use a particular address or use the placeholders— shared/dedicated/auto/none.

IPv4: 11.53.1.16
IPv6: 2002:5bcc:18fd:d:904c:9277:339a:ce56
domain1.tld

In this case, the domain will be given both the IPv4 and the IPv6 addresses.

When resellers receive IP addresses these are circulated to all domains used for customer accounts as well as the reseller’s own domains.

Reseller: res1
IPv4: 11.53.1.16
domain1.tld
Customer: cust1
domain2.tld
Reseller: res2
domain3.tld

In this case, domains domain1.tld and domain2.tld will get the IP address 11.53.1.16, and the IP address for the domain domain3.tld will be set in accordance with the automatic IP mapping rules.

Note: When manually assigning an IP address to a reseller, the IP address must either be free or one that’s already included in the reseller’s IP pool. With automatic IP mapping, only free IP addresses will be given to resellers.