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, it retrieves its IP address from a server that has authority for the 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:

In this illustration, domains that use the IP address get the IP address Those with the IP addresses and, get the IP address

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:


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

IPv4: shared

Here, both domains are assigned a shared IP address.

IPv4: dedicated

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

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

IPv6: none

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.

IPv6: 2002:5bcc:18fd:d:904c:9277:339a:ce56

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
Customer: cust1
Reseller: res2

In this case, domains domain1.tld and domain2.tld will get the IP address, 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.

What is a Control Panel? Everything you need to know

Managing web services offered by a hosting provider used to require extensive sysadmin knowledge, including the ability to control server services via CLI. For some experts, this can be an effective way to manage servers. But for most system admins, a control panel with a GUI presents a much easier way to manage and monitor all hosted services you use.

This smoothens how you manage your services – be it web hosting, mailboxes, server databases, DNS settings and more. Monitoring is another important control panel function. And the better hosting control panels will offer you ways to stay abreast of CPU, memory and bandwidth use.

Superiority and functionality of panels will vary. But what you need to look out for is a user-friendly GUI, the ability to run Cron jobs as well as advanced security features. Let’s go for a full run-through what your next control panel should look like, what to expect, and what you shouldn’t settle for.

Basic elements of a Control Panel

Effectively take charge of a website hosting environment and make sure the website control panel you choose offers the following essential, basic functions.

Domain and DNS Management

You depend on domains to access website resources. Hence, your control panel should have a section that lets you manage everything about the domains you’re hosting on your server. This includes new add-ons and subdomains, or managing existing ones.


Subdomains allow you to create a separate website area or an entirely new website. All while still using your main domain name. So it can be useful to add a prefix to your website domain name, such as Your control panel needs to allow you to create as many subdomains as you need. The power’s yours!

Add-On Domains

Most control panels will give you the option to add a number of domains to the hosting environment. You’ll find these as “Add-on domains”. Now, you can choose to assign an add-on domain to a specific website. Or you can simply park it if you currently don’t want the domain to point to any website. Note that a parked domain can point to an existing website. So in this case, every request for that domain is simply redirected to another website of your choice.

DNS Management

Can you imagine if all your DNS data was scattered? You can usually host all the DNS data for a domain on your hosting environment itself. Including the entire range of DNS records, like nameserver and A records, MX records and TXT records. The right hosting control panel for you will allow you to fully customize DNS for each add-on domain you host.

File Manager

Organization is key. How can you keep track of all your the files on your server? You need an easy way to upload, remove and manage these files. So your control panel should present a GUI that enables quick and easy file management. The simpler, the better. Because whether you use a CMS such as WordPress, or not, file management is a basic daily task for admins. Solving CMS issues is also much quicker with a file manager. There is an alternative – enter FTP (File Transfer Protocol), still supported by most control panels, to be honest. But FTP requires using a separate software application which you’ll need to set up on the side.

Mailbox Management

You’ll have multiple email accounts (also known as mailboxes) associated with each domain. Your control panel should come to the rescue here too by letting you create, remove and otherwise manage these accounts. It’s common for web hosting packages to include POP3 or even IMAP email free of charge.

Mail forwarding is another important feature you should look out for. Doesn’t matter whether you are forwarding to an internal email account or an email account hosted elsewhere. Another common practice for control panels is allowing you to configure anti-SPAM solutions ( including DKIM, SPF and DMARC ). Handy because it lets you monitor and protect incoming emails against blacklists and open-source filtering databases.

Here are three great tools that free you from junk email by the way.

Logging and Monitoring

Every system administrator should stay on top of key usage statistics, such as visitor counts, memory use and the total use of bandwidth. A control panel will help you identify websites which use excessive amounts of server resources. As well as enable you to avoid high bandwidth charges – before it is too late.

Advanced Control Panel Features

Not every control panel offers the same features. Although you should make sure basic elements are covered, we recommend you consider the following features too when you evaluate a control panel.

Security: TLS/SSL

The ability to manage TLS/SSL is an essential feature of your control panel. These encryption features prevent your confidential data from getting intercepted. So you can protect user credentials and credit card numbers that hackers can effortlessly steal, via something as common as an unsecured wifi connection.

Check out 5 tips to make your site and server more secure.

Further Security Features

Here at Plesk, we expect all control panels to offer more advanced security features in this day and age. For example, you can get protection against HotLinking. What’s HotLinking? Well, it’s when an unscrupulous website owner links videos or images on your website. And then they display these media assets as their own content.

There are two problems with this. First, the website is stealing your content. Secondly, it’s stealing your bandwidth. HotLink protection can restrict the access other servers have to image files on your server.

Also, consider that you need to be able to block access to a web server directory in all cases. Unless there’s a file that the web server can load, such as index.html. Leaving directory access unrestricted can lead to security threats taking hold.

Read more about why Security is important and how Fail2ban, ModSecurity, and Firewalls help.


Have you thought about unauthorized users? Included in some control panels, ModSecurity is an application firewall that’s operated on an open-source basis. And it helps you monitor applications, while also logging activity and implementing access limits where necessary. One way of blocking access is by blocking IP addresses. ModSecurity will help you do this.

It also helps to have SSH access, which gives you encrypted file transfers and logins. Useful to configure the remaining services that you cannot configure via the control panel.


There’s only so much time in a day, right? And you don’t want to be working round the clock. Automating server maintenance is useful for system administrators because it frees up time they can use for other tasks.

Many control panels allow you to use Cron as a scheduler, which runs scripts at specific times on specific days. Great for automating server tasks like database view updates, performing backups and checking your site for broken links.

Custom Error Pages

Standard rule of System administration – Glitches will happen. And you don’t want to serve an unprofessional error message to customers, revealing who your hosting provider is. This is where the custom error message comes in.

You can customize a range of messages in a worthy control panel, including the typical “404 – not found” message. Your messages can, of course, be more descriptive and contain elements including your company logo and instructions on finding help.

Managing Databases

The bigger the website, the more users and the more content involved. Larger websites will manage content by means of a database. Any CMS, such as WordPress, will install a database on your web server. As is the case for most e-commerce platforms.

In turn, many hosting services supply MySQL as an open-source DBMS (Database Management System). Your control panel will let you add, configure and remove databases as you need.

Custom versus Commercial and Open Source Control Panels

Web hosts tend to offer one of two types of control panels. One is a commercial or open source control panel. Usually purchased from a third party, like a million other web hosts around the world. Or you can have a custom panel that is proprietary to the web host, often developed in-house. Custom control panels can be very clean and easy to use. But be aware that they are sometimes unexpectedly limited in functionality.

Some custom control panels, however, are a real mess and become more of an obstacle when it comes to server management tasks. Beginners can also struggle to switch from a custom panel to a more fully-featured panel later on. If you choose a host that uses a popular control panel, like Plesk, you’ll find you can easily switch to another host without needing to re-train your staff on the new control panel.

But if you’re confused, see which made our list of hosting control panels for 2019.

So why have a Control Panel?

You’ll find control panels included in almost all hosting packages. The control panel your host uses is unlikely to be the most important factor you consider when choosing a host, but it’s an important consideration nonetheless.

And as with any software product, the optimal way to evaluate a website control panel is to experience it yourself. Most panels offer a live online preview or free trial which helps you evaluate the functionality and GUI user-friendliness. Plesk offers a free trial, so while you’re here, check it out and see how it feels.

It’s a good idea to try and perform the routine tasks you regularly perform and to compare how long it takes you. A visually-stunning control panel is not necessarily the most effective tool. Luckily we’re a bit of both. But don’t take our word for it. Try it out before you decide, and get in touch with us if you need to.