The Worst Case Scenario
On Thursday evening, I stepped out of my gym, ready to enjoy a peaceful walk home. But alas, my calm was almost immediately interrupted by a sudden burst of “WEBSITE DOWN” alerts on my phone. Multiple websites hosted on different servers with no apparent connection to each other. Instinctively, I checked if the affected sites were actually down or if it was just a false positive from our monitoring system. But no, none of them were loading. I checked several of our other sites to rule out a network issue at our data centre, but they were fine. The outage seemed to be restricted to just a handful of our websites.
My web browser was showing a “DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN” error, meaning that my phone was unable to perform a DNS lookup on the domain name.
To put it simply: The website was online but no-one could find it.
What is DNS?
You (probably) have a telephone number. If you want people to be able to phone you, you can either tell them your number or list it in a telephone book.
Similarly, DNS (Domain Name System) is the telephone book that powers the entire internet. Every web address (domain name) has DNS records which tell your browser how to find it.
DNS is critical – it matters as much as your web hosting.
What went wrong?
In a word: Telstra.
All of the websites that went offline on Thursday had chosen to host their DNS records on Telstra’s nameservers, which unfortunately suffered from a major outage that night:
The outage lasted around 2 hours, and during that time all of the sites hosted on their DNS servers were completely inaccessible. No visitors, no enquiries, no sales, nothing could go through until Telstra solved the problem.
So, how can we avoid this?
It’s simple: Don’t neglect your DNS Hosting.
- Choose a DNS Host with a guaranteed uptime, high performance and security, and a strong reputation.
- Make sure your DNS Host has a distributed network with locations all over the world.
- If your DNS Host can only provide you with two servers for your domain, it’s time to find a new provider.
Atomix has proudly hosted the majority of our client DNS with DNSMadeEasy since 2010. DNSMadeEasy have a 100% uptime guarantee.
You can view their great video on the basics of DNS here: