ZoneEdit Review

ZoneEdit.com has led a long history in free DNS hosting service. It is reliable, feature rich and free for the first 5 zones you hosted with them. They do quite a bit more than simply returning you the DNS records. Here’s a description from their FAQ page:

What services does ZoneEdit provide?

ZoneEdit hosts reliable DNS servers, e-mail servers for email forwarding, and web servers for URL forwarding and parked domains. ZoneEdit provides a convenient single-location, integrated, web-based domain manager for configuring all of the services provided.

I have been using ZoneEdit since late 2002, and currently have 2 domains delegated to their servers. In one stage (~2 years ago) the web front-end was giving me hard time, but the DNS itself has been flawless. If you like free services, has less than 5 domains to manage, want features like backup MX and automatic failover service — then ZoneEdit might be the provider for you.

ZoneEdit HomePage

Service Basics

ZoneEdit is a commercial paid service, but offers hosting 5 domains/zones free of charge. You can then buy credits to host more domains, or purchase features like extra name servers, backup MX, etc. Signing up is easy, but it seems to require more than just your email address and password — you need to provide your address and phone number. Probably a strategy against fraud, but seems unnecessary.

Your username and temporary password will be generated and emailed to you, and you can get onto all the fun zone-editing stuff within minutes.

User Interface

ZoneEdit.com does not have the most fancy user interface. Actually, I consider ZoneEdit.com’s web UI harmful to your eyes because of that tiled background image. There just seems to be something wrong with their layout and choice of colours that makes me want to finish up what I am editing as quickly as possible. Fortunately, DNS is something that you update and forget — until you switch servers or add new sub-domains, etc.

Otherwise, the UI is intuitive and easy to use. Your existing zones are listed on the left-hand-side column. Select a zone to give you a brief overview of this zone — a list of records grouped by the record types. Clicking on the group-type header and you can start editing those records.

Commonly used records, A, CNAME and MX, have their own pages, where as no-so-common records can all be edited on the “Advanced” page. On most of the pages you can turn on “Show FAQ”, which will append frequently asked questions associated with functions on that page, and links to the answers. I found useful when you are starting out to use their service, and you can hide those links once when you are familiar with the functions and terminologies.

ZoneEdit Editing Page

Extra Features

ZoneEdit is full of extra features that are not part of your typical DNS service. Some of them are free, and some of them require you to purchase some credits.

First of all, there are more DNS record types than you’ll normally need. Need IPv6? Use AAAA. Need to add text (or SPF) to your domain? Use TXT. There’s also LOC to add latitude and longitude of your domain and RP to add responsible person or organisation. You can even use ZoneEdit for PTR records if you have an entire class C…

It has also got all the other basics — dynamic DNS, secondary NS, web forward, etc. ZoneEdit can do mail forward for you by taking over the MX records of your domain. Secondary/backup MX is missing from the free account, but can be purchased from ZoneEdit.

One interesting feature is their failover service. It is like an integrated site monitor, which “pings” your website every 10 minutes over HTTP. You can then provide a list of IP addresses for that domain, all of them configured to serve that site. ZoneEdit will only return back the IP addresses that is responding to its HTTP ping. That effectively provides a cheap redundancy service.

ZoneEdit does lack TTL setting for each of the records. It does, however, allow you to edit SOA info which applies to the entire zone. The minimum TTL in SOA however is limited to at least 20 minutes, which might not be useful in some circumstances.

Not sure whether it can be classified as a “feature”, but there is also an affiliate linking program that pays you USD$0.50 for each free account sign up, or 10% for each paid customer. It does create incentive for others to advertise and recommend them. Well, don’t worry. There is no affiliation link in this article 🙂

DNS Servers

For each domain you added into ZoneEdit, it provides you two name servers ns<number>.zoneedit.com, where <number> is randomly taken out from a list of its servers, currently up to 19. You can then use these name servers with your registrar. There is an option to add an tertiary name servers to your domain to provide more redundancy. At a cost of course.

Most of their name servers are based in US and Canada, however I found ns10.zoneedit.com that is New Zealand based.

Summary

Name: ZoneEdit
Server Locations: All over North America, New Zealand
Servers per Zone: 2
Free Domains: 5
Free Records:
Record Types: A, CNAME, MX, NS, RP, TXT, LOC, PTR, AAAA
Min. TTL: 1200 seconds (apply to entire zone)
AXFR: Yes (IP, TSIG key)
Secondary NS: Yes
Dynamic Domain: Yes
Web Forward: Yes (Cloak, Redirect)
Mail Forward: Yes
Secondary MX: No
Extra Features: Failover Service

Conclusion

ZoneEdit is reliable, and if you only have five or less domains and don’t need the extra features, it is free. It has been working quite well for me over the last 4 years, and I recommend them.