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DNS Name Server Types and Roles: Primary/Master, Secondary/Slave and Caching-Only Servers
(Page 1 of 3)
In the first two topics in this section,
we have looked at the functions of DNS servers, with a particular eye
to the important job of storing name server information. There are many
thousands of DNS servers on the Internet, and not all are used in the
same way. Each DNS server has a particular role in the overall
operation of the name system. The different kinds of servers also interact
with each other in a variety of ways that we need to understand.
Every zone needs to have at least
one DNS name server that is responsible for it. These DNS name servers
are called authoritative servers for the zone, because they contain
the full set of resource records that describe the zone. When any device
on the Internet wants to know something about a zone, it consults one
of its authoritative servers.
From a strictly theoretical perspective,
having one name server for each zone or domain is sufficient
to provide name resolution services for the entire DNS name structure.
From an implementation standpoint, however, having only one name server
for each part of the name space is not a wise idea. Instead, each zone
usually has associated with it at least two name servers: one primary
or master name server, and one secondary or slave
name servers. Some zones may have more than one secondary name server.
Note: The terms primary and secondary are used often in the DNS standards to refer to the roles of the two authoritative servers for a zone. However, master and slave are now the preferred terms, because primary and secondary are somewhat ambiguous and used in other contexts. You should be prepared to see both terms used.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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