On the surface, linked records seem a lot like a couple of other kinds of DNS records supported by NS1 — namely, CNAME records (part of the standard DNS repertoire) and ALIAS records (an NS1-specific record type to solve limitations of CNAME records at the zone apex). But linked records are subtly different: CNAME records can result in additional DNS round trips, and ALIAS records need to do recursive lookups behind the scenes which can impact performance.
Linked records never point to records outside NS1. This lets us be more intelligent: we can treat the linked record just like its target, natively — no extra DNS lookups, no recursion, and full support for the NS1 Filter Chain, Data Feeds, and other powerful features. Linked records can reduce management overhead too: when the config for a target record is changed — new answers added, metadata updated, etc — the changes immediately take effect across all linked records pointing to the target.
CDNs commonly require you to CNAME your domain to one provided by the CDN (or ALIAS your zone apex). If both your domain and your CDN vendor’s domain use NS1, you can save some round trip time by using linked records. Create a linked record pointing at the CDN’s domain so that lookups to your domain will be resolved using your CDN provider’s full global load balancing configuration in a single round trip with no overhead.
Linked records are available in the NS1 portal today. Here’s a quick tutorial of how to create them:
- Select Add Linked Record, instead of Add Record, to create a new linked record.
- Complete the Linked Record information.
NOTE: The link must be the same record type as its target (A record to A record, CNAME to CNAME, etc.), but the target can be in a different zone or even in a different account.
Come try out Linked records with a Developer DNS account with NS1.