Did you recently register a new domain name or take ownership of an existing domain name? When you create a new website, you want to see how it looks on the web for all to see.
But when you access your site, you get an error message or a generic web page from your web host.
“Where’s my site?” you ask. The answer lies in DNS propagation, which is the time it takes for your DNS information to update across the internet.
Does this sound like gibberish to you? Keep reading to understand what DNS is, and how long it takes for DNS to update so you can present your live website to the world.
What Is DNS?
Decades ago, when the internet was mostly used in academia, you could only access websites by querying a site’s IP address. That might look something like this: 126.96.36.199. Can you imagine how clunky that would be to use today?
Luckily, a web pioneer named Paul Mockapetris invented the Domain Name System (DNS) in 1983 to expand the internet for widespread use. DNS links your domain name with your IP address, thus eliminating the need for web surfers to enter your IP address.
How Do DNS Changes Work?
Your internet service provider (ISP) caches your DNS information to improve the performance of DNS queries. So when a user accesses your site, it’s much faster for the ISP to deliver your cached site instead of creating a new query.
Note that every DNS record has a Time to Live (TTL) value, which represents the time DNS servers will store that record in the cache. As a result, when you change a DNS record, the new domain will not be accessible until the TTL value in cache elapses.
This time period is what is referred to as propagation. It is the time it takes for cache to expire and DNS records to update and reflect DNS changes.
How Long Does It Take for DNS to Update?
Most ISPs and web hosting servers advise you to wait up to 72 hours for propagation to be complete. It may happen much faster, but 72 hours is a safe bet.
It makes more sense when you think of the enormous number of DNS records that need to be updated around the world. There are over 33 billion DNS records for sites with the .com top-level domain (TLD). That doesn’t include other TLDs such as .net, .org, .co.uk and so on.
How Do I Confirm If My DNS Is Propagated?
You can check your website propagation status using the following tools: DNS Checker quickly checks 22 international locations to confirm propagation. You can also use the propagation tool at ViewDNS to review your DNS status.
The Bottom Line
As a website publisher, you do not need to know much about the technological nuts and bolts that make the internet work. But it is helpful to understand how DNS propagation works so you’re not wondering how long does it take for DNS to update.
Would you like some help designing your website and launching it online? Contact us today, so we can incorporate your ideas and our professional design skills to create your dream site.