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A few years back, I assisted in the move of the website content server from one host to another (in canada) due to better service pricing. Because of this, I had to designate a new registrar for my domain name.

Right now, I configured my domains at dotster.com to point to my server IP in canada.

When I ping my server IP, several hops are performed, of which some are in the USA.

I'm just curious as to if its much better to change the registrar from Dotster to one closest to my current server location or will that make no difference in the performance of my website?

P.S. I've done everything else imaginable to optimize my site but I'm just not sure the impact the distance between the domain registrar and the server computer has on the overall performance of the website.

I'm looking at this from a worldwide and performance standpoint. Is it best for me to scrap Dotster and move my domains to a registrar closest to the server or will that be a waste of time? and why?

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  • Are you suggesting that the domain registrar is also managing your master DNS records? (This isn't necessarily the case.)
    – MrWhite
    Feb 23 '16 at 9:31
  • My server manages the DNS records (or at least the domain to ip address mappings). The registrar is what makes me curious because when I traceroute a connection to my server one IP appears is from the USA, and my DNS registrar (dotster.com) I believe is in the USA. Feb 24 '16 at 0:10
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The physical location of the registrar isn't important, what matters is where their DNS servers are located in relation to your users, and whether they use unicast or anycast for the DNS services. You tend to find that the bigger DNS providers use anycast. This broadcasts the same DNS information to multiple servers located around the Internet. When a resolver performs a lookup, the query is automatically routed to whichever server is closest, giving better speed (and reliability - you really don't want your DNS provider to go down).

Here's a quick realtime test of your site's DNS from a few locations around the world: http://www.solvedns.com/clubcatcher.com#speedandhealth . For comparison, here's Twitter, and Stackexchange.

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  • I would just add that DigitalOcean will host DNS for your domains using anycast and this does not require that you are a paying customer. You can simply create a free account there, point at their name servers, configure DNS on their site, and away you go. They are aware of this 'loophole' and don't care as DNS takes so little resources and they hope you will like their service and convert to paid service (which I did). Route 53 is the next cheapest at a totally reasonable $0.50USD/month per zone. TL;DR anycast DNS is very inexpensive & easy to find. Feb 24 '16 at 11:30
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Okay. Mike. I would find a good, solid, and reliable registrar with decent DNS services. It is not necessary that they are local to your server and here is why.

When a user makes a request, it is their ISP DNS that they hit, not yours. Sorta.

Simple huh?

Essentially, your DNS records will get cached, propagated, and otherwise distributed according to what any ISP DNS wants to do. When a user requests a domain name from their network, let's assume that has never happened before, the ISP DNS will look-up your domain name and match it to an IP address. It would be easy for us to think that would be the registrars DNS, but not necessarily. Most of the time, if an ISP DNS does not have the answer, it will query the networks up-stream DNS and so on. This, of course, is not always the case, but generally the case with ISPs.

For example, I am using CenturyLink. In theory, if I am a dumb user, then my router is using the CenturyLink DNS servers. If the CenturyLink DNS does not have the answer, then it queries the Quest DNS. CenturyLink should be fast enough, however, Quest will be much faster. In fact, much faster than many registrars.

Many ISPs have DNS caches. Think about my example for a bit. Quest is a major telecom with a significant backbone. It is very likely that Quest will have had the domain name requested at some point whether the record is fresh or not. Since some ISPs do not care too much if the record is fresh, it will serve what is either in the DNS or DNS cache. Even if the ISP wants to refresh the record and queries the SOA which is likely with the registrar, using my example, it is a DNS on a backbone that is making the request.

So while your registrar is not often hit, as long as they are fast and have a good proximity to a fast network, that should be fine. This is why for some, GoDaddy works well. If performance does become an issue, just chose a fast registrar on a fast network or even a DNS service on a fast network. The closer to a backbone the better. This is why larger registrars work as well as they do. They are well located.

Keep in mind that even a tiny network in a tiny town can have immediate access to a backbone. I do and I live up in the mountains.

I may not have explained this perfectly. I had to rush because I have some place I have to get to. However, you get the point that the registrars DNS is the least often DNS hit to locate your IP address.

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If you are looking at it worldwide and want to boost the performance, you should definitely use a CDN (Content Delivery Network) service, they work in pretty simple way, they have servers located in different points of the world some got a good coverage, and others not so, but the main idea is that it will geolocate your users and deliver your content from the closest to them server.

You would like to see maxcdn and cloudflare services.

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From my experience, it's irrelevant where's your domain registrar and where's your server located. Only what counts are DNS records that are stored on server where is web page, because without DNS records, web is not going to work.

So, in a nutshell... I think that it's not important where you register your domain because you always need to put your DNS records on server where your page is. So to put it in perspective of your question.... if you register a domain let's say in singapore (.sg), and you put it on your server in Canada, site performance would be the same because you have DNS records that you putted on your server.

It's just a registrar that provides you DNS records, performance is the same. It's only important because of geolocation of your users / content that you are providing to them.

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    Just to add, "you always need to put your DNS records on server where your page is" - this isn't necessarily the case. The DNS server could be entirely separate, different location, different organisation (which is also separate from the domain registrar).
    – MrWhite
    Feb 23 '16 at 9:35
  • Yes it can and that's true, but rarely applied. I was writing from my experience with web hosting and how they handle this specific matter.
    – Josip Ivic
    Feb 23 '16 at 9:37
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    If you're suggesting you should host your own DNS and on the same server as the website - this is rarely a good idea, and is unlikely to provide a performance benefit (the opposite is more likely). Feb 23 '16 at 10:44
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    I usually recommend keeping DNS separate. Your webserver is more likely to go down than your DNS server, so it's easier to point to an alternate server elsewhere when that happens. Feb 23 '16 at 12:08
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    You said "you always need to put your DNS records on server where your page is". If I misunderstood, perhaps you could edit your answer to clarify. If your point is that it doesn't matter, I would disagree. Using your example, for a user in Europe accessing a site with the DNS hosted in Singapore and website in Canada, the worst case time to first byte will be <singapore latency for DNS lookup> + <connection> + <request to Canada> + <waiting> + <response>, which will be very slow. Feb 23 '16 at 12:23

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