All about CNAME: A Beginner’s Guide

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For individuals unfamiliar with technical concepts, CNAME in the domain name world can be confusing. A CNAME, often known as a "canonical name," is a type of DNS record that enables you to connect one domain name to another. We'll discuss what a CNAME record is and why it's essential in this blog post.
CNAME can be confusing for those unfamiliar with the technical terms in the world of domain names. In this blog, we’ll explore precisely what a CNAME record is and why it matters. The CNAME is one of the most common records that you can find in the Domain Name System (DNS). It’s a very useful record, allowing us to use the same services from different places on the web. Let’s try to understand it better!

What is CNAME?

What is CNAME? You may wonder what CNAME is and how it differs from your typical domain. Well, let me tell you: A CNAME, a.k.a ‘canonical name,’ is a type of DNS record that allows you to alias one domain name to another domain name. This can be done for various reasons, but the most common is to point your domain name to another server without changing the address records.

What is a Domain Name?

What is a Domain Name? Well, let me explain; a domain name is an alphanumeric string that represents your brand or website’s identity on the internet. It has two parts: one part is the top-level domain (TLD) like “.com” or “.org,” and another part is a subdomain such as blog1.yourbloggingwebsite.com, etc., which can be used by anyone who owns a hosting plan with any web host service provider.

How do Canonical Names work?

You can think of CNAME as a type of DNS record pointing to an alias. Think of it like a phone number: it’s just the number you call, but it doesn’t tell you whom you’re calling. CNAMEs are often used in web hosting where you might have an A Record (the IP address) pointing your domain name at one server and a CNAME pointing it at another server. The most common use of CNAMEs is to serve multiple domains with one IP address, which makes scaling easier and cheaper, especially if your site grows rapidly. You can use a CNAME record so that when someone types in your main site’s address, they’re automatically redirected to the subdomain. For example, if you want to use a single WordPress installation on multiple subdomains (e.g., example.com/blog), then each subdomain would host its own files, but they’d all be served from the same URL (and so would share the same database). In most straightforward words, a CNAME is like a nickname for an IP address, and it’s a type of DNS record that points to another URL instead of directly to the resource on another server.

Uses of CNAME records

Uses of CNAME records Here are some common uses for CNAME records:
  • Direct multiple websites controlled by one company or group to that company’s main website.
  • Assign a unique hostname for various network services, such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or email, and direct each hostname to the root domain.
  • Allocate each client a subdomain on a single service provider’s domain and use the CNAME to direct the client’s root domain.
  • To buy many domain registrations for the same website and direct each of them to the main domain.
There are a few things to keep in mind when using a CNAME record:
  • You can only use a CNAME record for subdomains, not for your root domain (e.g., you can use a CNAME for www.myexample.com but not for myexample.com).
  • You can’t use a CNAME record for an email address (e.g., you can’t use a CNAME to point example@myexample.com to your Gmail account).
  • You can’t use a CNAME record if you’re already using another DNS record for the same subdomain (e.g., you can’t use a CNAME for www.myexample.com if you already have an A record for that subdomain).

Can one CNAME record point to another?

Pointing a CNAME record to another CNAME record is inefficient because it requires numerous DNS lookups before the domain can be loaded, which slows down the user experience. But, it is doable if needed. For example, blog.invisibleppc.com may have a CNAME record that points to the CNAME record of www. invisibleppc.com, which then points to the A record of invisibleppc.com. CNAME for blog.invisibleppc.com:
blog.invisibleppc.com record type: value: TTL
@ CNAME is an alias of www. invisibleppc.com 32600
Which points to a CNAME for www. invisibleppc.com:
www. invisibleppc.com record type: value: TTL
@ CNAME is an alias of invisibleppc.com 32600
This configuration adds an extra step to the DNS lookup process and should be avoided if possible. Instead, both blog.invisibleppc.com and www. invisibleppc.com’s CNAME records should link directly to invisibleppc.com

Ending Note

CNAME is another essential part of the internet, but you don’t have to worry about it. All you need to know is that it’s the main way your domain name is connected with the IP address. The Domain Name System handles this connection automatically, so you won’t have to do anything.

Saumya Singh
Saumya Singh
Saumya is a writing enthusiast and a lover of literature who loves to tell stories through her writing. She holds a Master’s degree in English and has a keen interest in the world of advertising and marketing.
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