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I have a VServer at Hosteurope with IP X.Y.Z. I have bought a domain and the first nameserver is set to my VServer X.Y.Z that I administrate with PLESK. I have setup the DNS records for the domain within PLESK.

Now, as the secondary nameserver I have the HE default secondary nameserver, like ns2.hosteurope.yxcyxc

I thought the default HE secondary nameserver would clone the DNS records of my primary server. But according to Hosteurope support secondary HE nameserver only maps to my VServer and if the server is down, nothing will happen.

I always thought a nameserver must have all DNS settings and the second nameserver would always clone the DNS settings of the primary nameserver. Is this actually not the case? Does a nameserver only contain the IP of the target server from the requested website? Or does it also contains the DNS records? If it contains the DNS records, does one need to set the DNS settings twice, once time for primary and one time for secondary nameserver?

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  • I never recommend using your own virtual server as one of your DNS servers. If you have found a DNS host (currently being used as secondary) they should have multiple servers that you could use as both primary and secondary. Dec 22, 2021 at 17:50
  • @StephenOstermiller I could use the primary&secondary default nameserver from HE, but then everytime I create a subdomain or email, I would need to setup the correct DNS records on the admin panel from HE in addditon to what I have setup in PLESK. Why would you not recommand to use the VS as DNS server?
    – Adam
    Dec 22, 2021 at 17:52
  • Additional email addresses shouldn't require DNS changes. You'll have to put in DNS records there anyway, you might as well use them for both primary and secondary. Using your own VPS as a DNS server just makes your life harder. Dec 22, 2021 at 18:25

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I always thought a nameserver must have all DNS settings and the second nameserver would always clone the DNS settings of the primary nameserver. Is this actually not the case?

In a typical primary/secondary case, yes.

The primary has the zonefile with all records. This gets transmitted (in full or incrementally) to all secondaries (as configured on the primary) "as soon" as a change is detected in the content.

There are however other ways to setup a DNS constellation. The above setup is kind of the old one.

Or does it also contains the DNS records?

Every zone has NS records (and one SOA record) otherwise the zone can not resolve.

The primary/secondary distinction is only internal, and useful/seen by the entity managing those nameservers. For outside, all nameservers listed as authoritative on a given zone are exactly the same and should provide exactly the same reply for the same request.

If it contains the DNS records, does one need to set the DNS settings twice, once time for primary and one time for secondary nameserver?

No. Everything is in the zonefile, and the primary configuration lists where to send/from where to accept any zonefile content. But if nameservers change (which is different from changing any other trivial data in the zonefile) you have bigger things to do, as in configuring the new nameservers to work properly.

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A "secondary" DNS server will only update itself with details from the primary server if the primary is configured to allow this as well as the secondary. This generally implies the primary and secondary are set up to work together, and there are security concerns (notably transferring the zone file - this is not a standard dns request). While the technology still exists its largely outdated and been replaced with multiple primary nameservers (often using replicated databases).

Webservers/single VMs /CPanel type setups (and I assume Plesk as well) are not a good choice because they represent a single machine - typically on a single network with lots of single points of failure. In these cases you are better off using your domain registrar nameservers.

There are at least 2 types of nameservers - when hosting a domain name you are interested in an "authoritative" server. This server contains all the records associated with the domain, unless you use NS records to delegate subdomains elsewhere.

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  • "While the technology still exists its largely outdated" That is subjective. What is wrong with AXFR/IXFR queries (totally standard BTW)? They are one (old) tool, it has its use case, and there are other possible setups too indeed. But for example a typical "hidden primary" setup (including when the real secondaries are in fact under another entity control) may as well use AXFR/IXFR, as will do an on path hidden signing (DNSSEC) nameserver. Also typical databases are relational and not necessarily well suited for DNS as data is hierarchical not relational. Dec 24, 2021 at 0:42

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