Changing the IP Address of a DNS Server

We’re upgrading our DNS Servers from BIND to PowerDNS, and at the same time, will be changing their IP addresses to move them onto different networks.

I looked all over the Internet and could never really find a way to change the IP address of a DNS server. It seemed that there was a chicken and egg problem. Suppose you have a domain named mydomain.com. At your registrar, you’ve told them that the Primary name servers for mydomain.com are ns1.mydomain.com and ns2.mydomain.com.

Now, if you change the IP address of ns1 & ns2.mydomain.com, how does the rest of the Internet know how to get to them? The solution is that somewhere, there is a global registry of DNS servers that really define where ns1 and ns2.mydomain.com are at. I’m not sure where this is at, but fortunately, our registrar (Godaddy) has a way to edit them. All that was required was to log into our Godaddy account, find the “host summary” section, and change the IP addresses there that were assigned to ns1 and ns2.

I assume that once we changed that, Godaddy submits those changes to the mysterious database of name servers. They said it takes 4-8 hours for that to happen, but I noticed queries coming in to our new servers immediately. Queries will continue to go to our old DNS server for a couple days. dnsstuff.com has a cool tool called “ISP Cached DNS Lookup” where you can see how long your DNS records are cached at many major ISP’s.

With careful planning and an decent understanding of how DNS works, our switchover went flawlessly.

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