Ask Cloudbric: What’s the Difference Between Changing the Name Server and A-Record?

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Cloudbric received a lot of questions about our web application security service, and in our mission to democratize cybersecurity, we try our best to make the information readily available. We post a lot of answers in our Help Center, but every week we will give a longer answer about one question. This week, a user asks…

What’s the Difference Between Changing the Name Server and A-Record?

When you register for Cloudbric, there are two ways to apply protection to your website. You can either point your website toward the four name servers we provide, or change the A-record. What this does is basically make users take a detour on their way to visit your website, ensuring that they pass through Cloudbric’s protective monitoring service before arriving at your website. Think of it like installing a metal detector in airport customs, with the metal detector representing Cloudbric, the path through it being your changed name servers or A-record, and the line of people representing traffic trying to board the plane that represents your website. The difference is that Cloudbric won’t confiscate your water bottles.

So, What Are Name Servers and A-Records?

A name server is a computer hardware or software server that handles queries from users seeking a particular website, relying on a directory to provide domain information. With A-records, the A stands for “address.” Often it appears as “A record,” but I prefer the hyphen for clarity. An A-record functions exactly like an address, and when you try to find a website, your computer is asking a DNS server for the A-record of the site you want to visit, and it can return a domain and server IP.

Cloudbric redirecting incoming traffic

Cloudbric controls your traffic via name server

Which One Should You Use to Protect Your Site?

The standard, most convenient choice is to change the name servers, so if all things are equal, you should go with this one. When your name servers are changed, any queries for your website will be directed to our Cloudbric server, where your website is safely sequestered. Changing your A-record can be done if you are unable to change your DNS. It leaves your existing name servers intact, so that when your website is requested, the request comes to your name server and is filtered through Cloudbric for delivery to the user. This is the alternative solution if you’re hosted on a site, such as Tumblr or Wix. It is also useful if you want to register only one subdomain, rather than a whole website. Additionally, it gives you the option to retain your original e-mail or FTP services, which you might not need protected by Cloudbric.

Even if none of this makes sense to you, it still should be possible to make the changes. But hopefully you have a better idea of what’s going on here. If you go with changing name servers, you’ll be given four website addresses that look like random numbers and letters, ended by common top-level domains like .net, .com, .co.uk, and .org. You can find instructions on how to set up your name servers with most website hosts HERE. If you want to change your A-record, you’ll be given a number code broken up with three decimals. For changing your A-record, you will have to manually input all subdomains you wish to protect.

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