Media Temple and external DNS management for .is TLD
Sometimes we like to use TLD’s other than the .com, .co.uk, .com.au etc to set us aside from the regular folk. For a while I was maintaining a surfing magazine site and set up surferm.ag as a play on words.
Inspired for .is
Another one that I’ve used was responsivedesign.is after seeing the Jessica Hische set her site up at jessicahische.is. Jessica set up the sections of her site like short statements jessicahische.is/awesome, /thinkingthoughts, /working, /sellingyoustuff and so on.
Most of the responsive/responsive design urls had been taken up with the increase in popularity of the design and layout approach made famous by Ethan Marcotte, so when I decided to create a responsive design newsletter and site based on helping people I went for the .is solution.
Buying .is domains
The majority of the domains that I have bought have all been done through Go Daddy, but a lot of the times country specific TLD’s also have specific companies that you need to deal with.
After firing up domai.nr and finding the right domain I was sent off to 101domain.com to complete the process. Not long after I went through the registration process I received an email from 101hosting with the following requirement:
TTL for NS records not lower than 24 hours.
“Time To Live (TTL) for the NS records must be 86400 seconds (24 hours) or longer (Is now 43200 sec) “
As soon as I read the email I jumped straight into the DNS controller over on Media Temple to sort it out.
Increasing Media Temple TTL past 43200
You can control your DNS options on Media Temple by heading to the Edit DNS file section of your domain.
Aside from the regular options of Adding new DNS Records and resetting the DNS file to the original settings they also provide a helpful “Point Mail to Google” setting which I’ve used on a lot of my domains. The setting that I was after in this case was the “Raise TTL Value” (there is also a “Lower TTL Value” that comes in handy when moving sites). Unfortunately the standard TTL value for Media Temple is 21600 and the “Raise TTL Value” option will only increase this to 43200 (or 12 hours).
I didn’t this this could be right so I got in touch with Media Temple directly to ask if there was another way to increase the TTL, perhaps through the command line, and this was the response.
“Hi Justin. We only allow two settings: 300 second (temporarily for DNS changes, and 43200 seconds (12 hours).”
It seems as though I was not going to be able to host with Media Temple… or could I.
Hosting DNS separate from from Media Temple
If you have access to another server that has some more granular control over the DNS settings, and specifically with the ttl values, then all is not lost. You can set up the domain to instead point there for a little more control.
First you need to create a domain on your second server. For me it is quite simple, I click on “Create New Domain” and give it the name “responsivedesign.is”. Make sure that you set the ttl for the A record for responsivedesign.is to 84600 or greater.
Secondly you will need to go back to the domain seller, in my case 101domain, and change the NameServers for the responsivedesign.is to my other server ns1.timedout.org and ns2.timedout.org.
At this point I nearly bailed on Media Temple altogether, if they couldn’t provide a suitable DNS manager then why host there at all. After some deliberation I came to the conclusion that hosting somethings on media temple would help balance out a few things, plus it allowed me to continue to tinker with a dedicated server and keep my command line skills up to scratch. Another tipping point was that the alpha.responsivedesign.is site was being developed on a Matrix System that was hosted in the Squiz Cloud, so I would be pointing the DNS in a few different directions.
Now that the domain was registered I just needed to point it and the subdomains to the relevant server. Opening up the DNS editor on my second server I created a few records.
If you were doing this from scratch and you had not already added the domain to Media Temple then you will need to do so through the Domains Tab. Once you’ve done this you will notice a warning when viewing the new domain telling you that the domain is pointing to NameServers other than ns1.mediatemple.net, but you can ignore this because you have already pointed the appropriate subdomain to MediaTemple. Because I had already set up the domain on Media Temple when first trying to buy the domain it was just a matter of adding a sub domain through the MT interface for “playground”.
Is this the best way?
Good question, and I’d love to hear your thoughts through @justinavery.
This process allowed me to achieve what was needed to register the domain and run a few sites on different subdomains on different platforms and servers.
I assume that because the DNS is handled on a server in Europe, which then redirects the request to a server in America or Australia (depending on the subdomain) that there will be somewhat of a delay, but then again perhaps all the name servers around the world will have a record of which IP address is mapped to which sub domain… I’m not really an expert on DNS so please take this with a grain of salt.
Once again a big thanks to Bart for all my server hosting, thanks to MediaTemple for being a little bit rubbish by way of TTL forcing me to learn work arounds, and to Jessica Hische who gave me the inspiration to register a .is and write this article.