How do I add custom DNS records?

Setting your domain to DNS only

You can add custom DNS records for a fully hosted domain as well as a domain set to DNS only. It all depends on what records you are creating and why you need them.

Generally speaking, if you want your site hosted on DreamHost's servers, keep your site as Fully Hosted. 

However, if you want your site to point away from DreamHost by creating an A or CNAME record, the first step is to remove the hosting service already applied to your domain at DreamHost. The following steps explain how to set a domain to DNS only.

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’) page.
  2. Click the Edit button under the ‘Web Hosting’ column for the domain.
  3. On the following page, scroll down to the ‘DNS Only’ section: 01 Blogger.fw.png
  4. Click the Host DNS only! button to change your hosting for this domain from ‘Fully Hosted’ to ‘dns’.
  5. Navigate to the (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’) page.
    01 dns.png
  6. To the right of the domain under the 'Web Hosting' column, click the Remove button. This sets the domain to DNS only.

This also changes the non-editable DNS records into Custom DNS records that you can delete. The only remaining non-editable records are MX records which you can change on the (Panel > 'Mail' > 'Custom MX') page.

Below are a few things to note regarding these changes:

  • Do not press the Delete button for the domain through the (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’) page. This removes the domain from the account along with the contents that were previously hosted under it.
  • Setting the domain to ‘DNS Only’ does not delete your hosted files. You can click the Edit button to set the domain as ‘Fully Hosted’. This recreates your DNS records for the domain.
  • Keep in mind that this only affects your web hosting service and leaves other things services like email intact (this assumes you already have an active hosting plan on your account). Email is not available with DreamHost unless your account has an active hosting plan.

Additionally these changes are only possible for the primary domain – subdomains cannot be set to DNS Only.

If this is your only domain on your account and you're setting it to DNS only, you do NOT need a hosting plan. A hosting plan is only necessary if you wish to host a domain and its content on DreamHost servers.

A record

  1. Click the DNS link located under your domain on the (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’) page.
    01 Custom DNS A record.png
  2. Enter the following in three fields to create the A record:
    • Name: For the main domain, leave the ‘Name’ field blank. For ‘www’ or other subdomains, you can enter the subdomain name in this field.
    This field is often any of the following: www, blog, dev, store, and so on.

    Do not add the @ symbol into this field. This is added automatically.

    • Type: The record ‘Type’ defaults to ‘A’.
    • Value: Enter the IP address in the ‘Value’ field.
    This is the IP address you want this domain/subdomain to point to.
  3. Click the Add Record Now! button.

The propagation for the new A record begins, and can take up to 6 hours before the new records update online.

CNAME record

Along with custom A records, you can point your hosting away from DreamHost with a CNAME record. This record is created to point one domain to another as opposed to pointing one domain to an IP address like the custom A record.

Please keep in mind that the root A record (for example, example.com) cannot be a CNAME record and must always be an A record.

  1. Click the DNS link under the domain name on the (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’) page.
    01 Custom DNS CNAME record.png
  2. Enter the following:
    • Name: This field can be anything. But very often it’s just www. Adding www points the www subdomain away from DreamHost.
    In the example above, the CNAME record is named 'calendar' and is pointing to 'ghs.google.com'.
    • Type: In the drop-down menu select ‘CNAME’.
    • Value: Enter the location you’d like this record to point to.
  3. Click the Add Record Now! button to save.

After clicking the Add Record Now! button, the propagation for the new record begins. This can take up to 6 hours before the new records update online.

Nameservers

For details on how to set up custom/vanity nameservers, please visit the following article.

SPF records

For details on what an SPF record is an how to set it up, please visit the following article:

SRV record

SRV (service) records are another set of records that can be applied to your domain. Certain programs and applications may require the set up of these types of records to make those services active.

Your standard SRV record is in this type of format:

_service._protocol.name. TTL class SRV priority weight port target.

When entering an SRV record in your panel, ignore the TTL, class, and SRV fields. A full example is below.

The following two Microsoft SRV records are some of the more common SRV records that are configured for a domain. The example can be seen here:

TypeNameTargetProtocolServicePriorityWeightPortTTL
SRV @ sipdir.online.lync.com _tls _sip 100 1 443 1 hour
SRV @ sipfed.online.lync.com _tcp _sipfederationtls 100 1 5061 1 hour

Below is an example of how to set up one of the records above.

  1. In your panel, go to (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’).
  2. Click the 'DNS' link under your domain name:
    01 Custom DNS SRV record.png
    • Name: _sipfederationtls._tcp
    This is the 'Service' followed by the 'Protocol'.
    In the screenshot above, only one of the SRV record is being created. Repeat these steps for the second record.
    • Type: Select SRV from the dropdown menu.
    • Value: You need to enter the values in the order (priority) (weight) (port) (target)
    Using the example for MS mail hosting above, the first record’s value is:
    100 1 5061 sipfed.online.lync.com.
    The following values are used in the above example:
    priority = 100
    weight = 1
    port = 5061
    target = sipfed.online.lync.com
  3. Click the Add Record Now! button.

After clicking the Add Record Now! button, the propagation for the new A record begins and can take up to 6 hours before the new records update online.

The two records look like this once created:

_sipfederationtls._tcp	SRV	100 1 5061 sipfed.online.lync.com.

_sip._tls	        SRV	100 1 443 sipdir.online.lync.com.

A trailing period is applied to the end of the record once it is created. This will not cause any issues.

TXT record

View TXT record at Wikipedia.

  1. Navigate to the (Panel > ‘Domains’ > ‘Manage Domains’) page.
  2. Click the 'DNS' link under the domain name.
    01 Custom DNS TXT record.png
  3. Enter the following:
    • Name: This field can be anything. Very often it’s left blank.
    • Type: In the drop-down menu select ‘TXT’.
    • Value: Enter the location you’d like this record to point to.
    The example above is a typical Google site verification TXT record.
  4. Click the Add Record Now! button to save.

After clicking the Add Record Now! button, the propagation for the new record begins. This can take up to 6 hours before the new records update online.

Additional details

  • As with all changes to DNS, these records need time to update online. You may find that it may take a few hours for things to start functioning. You can Flush the DNS to see if this speeds up the propagation process, but there are no guarantees this will help. You can read instructions on flushing the DNS here:
  • DNS changes can take up to 6 hours to resolve. If your nameservers are pointing to DreamHost and the services set up for the record created are not active within this time, you may contact support for assistance at (Panel > ‘Support’ > ‘Contact’ Support’).

DreamHost support is able to point you to where you can create custom records as well as check to see if the record is properly applied to your domain. However, support cannot assist with setting up these custom records or whether the record created is correct or not.

See also