Additional Lessons
Lesson 4

DNS Zones

By Sai Kurada
August 26, 2023

DNS Zones

DNS zones are administrative divisions within the Domain Name System (DNS) hierarchy that allow for efficient management of domain name records. A DNS zone typically corresponds to a portion of a domain and contains the authoritative DNS records for that portion. DNS zones are used to delegate control over different sections of a domain to different DNS servers or administrators.

Here's a detailed explanation of DNS zones:

Zone Types:
  • Primary Zone (Master Zone): This is the authoritative source for a DNS zone. It contains the original and definitive DNS records for the zone. Changes to the records are made directly on the primary DNS server.
  • Secondary Zone (Slave Zone): Secondary zones contain copies of DNS records that are obtained from the primary zone through zone transfers. Secondary zones provide redundancy and load distribution by allowing multiple servers to respond to DNS queries for the same zone.
  • Stub Zone: A stub zone is a type of DNS zone that contains only a minimal set of records necessary for DNS resolution, allowing it to forward queries for a specific domain to the authoritative name servers for that domain. Stub zones are used to improve DNS query efficiency and reduce the load on DNS servers by delegating the responsibility of resolving a domain to its authoritative servers.

Zone Contents:
  • SOA Record: Every DNS zone begins with a Start of Authority (SOA) record. This record contains administrative information about the zone, including the primary (master) server for the zone, the responsible person's email address, and various timing parameters.
  • NS Records: NS (Name Server) records specify the authoritative name servers for the zone. These servers are responsible for providing DNS information about the domain within the zone.
  • Other DNS Records: The zone contains various other DNS records that map domain names to IP addresses or other resources, such as A records, AAAA records, MX records, CNAME records, and more.

Zone Delegation:
  • DNS zones allow for delegation of control. For example, a domain like "" might have subdomains like "" A parent domain can delegate control over a subdomain to different authoritative name servers. This is achieved through NS records in the parent domain's zone.

Zone Transfers:
  • Primary servers transfer zone data to secondary servers in a process called zone transfer. This ensures that secondary servers have up-to-date copies of the DNS records. Zone transfers can be initiated manually or automatically based on a schedule or changes in the DNS records.

Zone File Formats:
  • DNS zone data is typically stored in zone files. Zone files are text files that contain DNS records in a specific format. The format includes resource record types, time-to-live (TTL) values, and data associated with each record.

Reverse DNS Zones:
  • Reverse DNS zones are used to map IP addresses to domain names, allowing reverse lookups. They are primarily used for network diagnostics and security. Reverse DNS zones use the "" domain for IPv4 and "" domain for IPv6.

Split-Horizon DNS:
  • Split-horizon DNS involves creating multiple instances of DNS records for the same zone. This is often done to provide different DNS information to internal and external networks, such as private and public IP addresses.

DNS Views:
  • DNS views are a feature of some DNS servers that allow the server to provide different responses to queries based on criteria like the source IP address of the query. This can be used to serve different DNS records to different clients or networks.

DNS zones play a crucial role in organizing and managing DNS records for domains, subdomains, and reverse DNS lookups. They enable efficient administration, delegation of control, redundancy, and flexibility in managing DNS information for different parts of a domain hierarchy.