Free Domain Name Server Providers

Introduction

Most domain name registrars won't let you host your own DNS unless you have both master and slave (primary and secondary) DNS servers set up properly. However, not many people are priviledged to have that many boxes on the Internet, and sometimes it will be nice to have someone else (hopefully someone reliable enough) to host the name servers for your domains. Initially when I started writing this document, I was only going to write about free secondary NS provider, as many of us connected to the Internet using ADSL/Cable are offered a static IP. However as I visited different providers over past few months, many of them can also host the primary NS for you for free, and many of them have quite a nice interface to edit zone information. Therefore I changed the title to make it my reviews of free NS providers on the Internet, instead of just secondary NS.

Here's a list of such services that I've discovered or I'm using at the moment.

Update: I found this link in the news group: https://secure.xtremeweb.de/dns/ -- it also contains quite a few information on free DNS services...

Update 17 Aug 2006: I am starting a set of new pages on free DNS hosting at HostingFu.

The service providers here are listed in the alphabetic order, and it is not ordered by my preferences.

Note that I have not been updating this page for many months. All services listed here are still serving, but there might be more providers out there that can give you free DNS.

EveryDNS.net

Addresshttp://www.everydns.net
PrimaryYes
SecondaryYes
Domains20
Records200

I saw someone recommending EveryDNS on news group, but I have not had time (and free domains) to check it out. It seems to be quite generous (20 domains and 200 records), and its interface is quite clean.

Update: I have been a happy EveryDNS user for many years now, and have written a better review at HostingFu.com.

Granite Canyon/The Public DNS Service

Addresshttp://www.granitecanyon.com/
PrimaryYes
SecondaryYes

Truly free DNS service (but you can support them by donation, adn they are also sponsored by register.com). However the use can be restrictive. I need to evaluate it a bit more...

From many people I have talked to, especially those on the news groups, Granite Canyon seems to be quite unreliable. Since I have not yet had a chance to sign up a domain with them, I cannot verify how bad it is. From the look of it, it might not be a wise decision to delegate your domains there if you need some highly available service.

PowerDNS Express

Addresshttp://express.powerdns.com
PrimaryYes
SecondaryYes
Domains3

Features

  • 3 primary and secondary zones
  • 1 POP3 mailbox
  • Email forwards for the domains
  • Web forward for the domains

PowerDNS Express is powered by the DNS daemon of the same name, which can be found on the Freshemeat. The front-end is very clean and easy to use.

Update 15 Oct 2005 -- PowerDNS stopped providing free DNS. Here's the info:

PowerDNS Express currently provides free dns hosting for over 40.000 domains worldwide, and this number is still increasing every day. Unfortunately, we have been suffering from heavy abuse lately. Botnets, spammers using our mailforwards and repeated DOS attacks have increased our costs of running this service enormously.

We regret to inform you that, in order to keep providing you with high quality DNS management, we are forced to stop all free services on PowerDNS Express as of today.

XName

Addresshttp://www.xname.org
PrimaryYes
SecondaryYes
DomainsUnlimited (?)
RecordsUnlimited (?)

A small player in this field that I came across a few weeks ago. Pitty that it only offers one name server, it can act as either primary or secondary NS, but not both. It is a non-profit organisation but takes donations. The interface is pretty nice. I think they are also seeking more servers so that can have more redundant NS.

ZoneEdit.com

Addresshttp://www.zoneedit.com
PrimaryYes
SecondaryYes
Domains5
Usage200Mb / Year

I have got an .id.au domain's secondary DNS servers hosted by ZoneEdit - as an trial to see how good they are. It does provide both primary and secondary NS service, which is a bonus. With the primary NS service, there is a lot of records you can edit. The interface might not be the easiest to use, and it does not display properly with my Mozilla 1.1b installation. I have yet to try the interface under Internet Explorer to see whether the defects are browser specific.

However, the billing can be tricky because they will start to bill you if you use more than 5 domains, or your NS query exceeds 200Mb per year. From my experience, you gotta to be a popular site to have 200Mb of NS query per year. And if you are that popular, then you probably should be able to pay for your traffic anyway.

Other than DNS, ZoneEdit provides services for secondary MX, email forwarding, web forwarding, etc at a cost.