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Kris Beevers
Posted by
Kris Beevers on
August 17, 2014

Primary DNS with NS1

The standard redundant DNS setup is to configure a Primary and Secondary provider for your DNS. In this scenario we’ll show NS1 as the primary DNS provider, providing zone configurations to your DNS network, and another DNS provider as the secondary, pulling zone changes from NS1.

To configure primary DNS in NS1, you need to (1) know the IPs of your secondary DNS providers, (2) configure your NS1 Primary configuration to allow zone transfers (AXFR) from your secondaries, and (3) configure NS1 to send NOTIFY messages to your secondaries when your zone configuration changes. At NS1 it is as easy as adding your secondary IP addresses to your zone in the Zone Transfers view:

Once you’ve allowed zone transfers from NS1, you just need to configure your secondary. If you’re using another DNS service as a secondary provider, follow their instructions for setting up secondary DNS. (Their instructions are probably pretty similar to doing the same with NS1.) You will need to set our XFR transfer server’s IP address as the primary DNS server in your secondary DNS providers' configuration:

If you’re using BIND, you’ll need a simple config script similar to:

zone "" IN {
 // slaved from
 type slave;
 file "/var/lib/bind/";
 masters {;};

You can easily test that zone transfers are working from the command line on your secondary DNS servers with a command like this one:

dig +tcp axfr

If successful, the output will be a list of each of the static records in the zone requested. An unsuccessful AXFR request will output the error message ‘Transfer failed’.

All of NS1's zone transfers are RFC-compliant. Some NS1 specific configurations such as Filter Chain configuration and other meta data cannot be transferred. To ensure as much of your information as possible is transferred, we strip out this meta data prior to transferring your zone information so that all the RFC-compliant and BIND compatible information is sent to your secondary zone.

Want to read more about NS1’s primary DNS support? See our knowledge base article on the topic. If you are interested in configuring NS1 as a secondary provider we have a knowledge base article on that topic as well. And don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions!