cPanel’s Zone Editor lets you manage your domain’s DNS records. In this article we will look at how to use the Zone Editor to edit, remove and add DNS records. Other pages in this section of the knowledgebase deal with DNS in general and specific DNS records:

Managing DNS records using the Zone Editor

The Zone Editor’s main page lists all domains on your account. Next to each domain are shortcuts to quickly add an A, CNAME or MX record, and to view all existing DNS records you can click on the Manage link.

cPanel's DNS Zone Editor interface list the domain(s) you can manage.
Image: We are going to manage the DNS for example.net.

When you select the Manage link the editor will display all the DNS records in the zone. You can filter the records by record type. For instance, in the below screenshot we clicked on the MX button to only list MX records.

Filtering records let's you view the type of record you are interested in. In this screenshot we are filtering MX records.
Image: filtering MX records.

For each record you got two available actions: you can edit or delete an individual record. When you select the Edit link you can change the record’s values. We could, for instance, change the name of our main MX records to mail.example.net..

When you edit an MX record you can change the name, TTL, priority and destination.
Image: editing an MX records.

You can click the Save Record button to save the change or click Cancel to return to the overview.

The trailing dot

If you look carefully at the previous screenshots you see that the record name (example.net.) ends with a full stop. The trailing dot has a similar meaning to the full stop in a sentence: it indicates that the record ends at the full stop. In DNS terms, the name is “fully qualified”.

Without the full stop the zone’s domain name is automatically appended. In other words, the record name example.net would be changed to example.net.example.net.. That name wouldn’t resolve and prevent website and/or email traffic from reaching its intended destination.

Confusingly, in cPanel’s Zone Editor the trailing dot is only shown in the Name column, and not in the Record column. This looks wrong, in particular when a record’s value points to an external domain. In the below example we are changing the MX record for example.net. so that it points to st2.mx.email-filter.net. (which is our spam filter). The destination should have a trailing dot but cPanel is not having it – the error message is telling us the name should not end with a full stop.

Trying to add a destination with a trailing dot results in an error message.
Image: cPanel doesn’t like the trailing dot in the destination name.

As any domain name in the record column should always be a fully qualified name the Zone Editor automatically adds the trailing dot in the background. Similarly, cPanel automatically adds the trailing dot if you add a record for your domain name and forget the full stop. In other words, the Zone Editor helps prevent common “trailing dot issues”.

Adding records

You can add a new DNS record by clicking on the blue Add Record button. In the below example we are adding a TXT record for the domain _acme-challenge.example.net.:

Adding a TXT record.
Image: adding a TXT record.

Resetting the zone

Although there is no “undo” button for DNS records you add, change or delete, it is possible to revert a DNS zone to its default state. This is a useful option if you have made a number of changes that you want to undo.

When you reset a DNS zone the system should still keep any TXT records you have added. However, it is strongly recommended to make a note of all the records in the zone before you hit the reset button. Taking a screenshot of the full page can be real life-saver, as any customisations will be lost when you reset a DNS zone.

The option to reset a DNS zone is hidden under the cog icon, to the right of the Actions header.

Resetting a DNS zone.
Image: resetting a DNS zone will revert the zone to the default state.

It is worth repeating that any records you added will be removed and that any records you changed will be reset. For instance, in the above screenshot we can see the MX record we changed earlier (we pointed it to our spam filter). When the zone is reset the destination of the MX record will be reset to the default value (that is, it will point to example.net).

Common issues

Are the name servers correct?

Name Server (NS) records define where DNS records for a domain are hosted. That means that the records shown in the Zone Editor are only used if the your domain’s name servers are pointing to the server that is hosting your account.

A domain’s name servers are managed via the domain registrar’s control panel. If your domain is registered with us then you can view and change the name servers via your billing account:

  • Select Domains
  • Click or tap on the wrench icon to the right of your domain name
  • Select Nameservers from the Manage menu

In the below example the name servers are pointing to ns5.catalyst2.net and ns6.catalyst2.net, which are the name servers for our shared Linux servers. The name servers for your domain may be different.

Viewing the name servers for a domain via the Catalyst2 control panel.
Image: the name servers for the domain example.net.

The current name servers for your domain are also stored in the Whois database. You can view this information online:

  • Domains ending in .uk are managed by Nominet, and you can use its Whois search page to find the name servers for your domain.
  • Most other domains, including .com and .org, are managed by Icann, which also has a search page.
  • Alternatively, you can use an online DNS checker such as the G Suite Toolbox to get the name servers for your domain.

DNS changes take time to propagate

When you change a DNS record it will take roughly 24 hours for the change to propagate to all DNS servers on the internet. Often it takes less time, but occasionally it takes longer. This means that you will not instantly see the result of DNS changes you make. For instance, for this article we changed where mail for example.net is routed to. While that changes is propagating incoming emails may be sent to either the old server or the new server.

The TTL value shown in the Zone Editor can, in theory, help speed up the DNS resolution. The default value is 14400 seconds, which means that DNS server should check if the DNS zone has changed every 4 hours. You can lower the value to, say, 3600 some time before you make DNS changes. However, there is no guarantee that DNS servers will honour lower values.

Is there a missing trailing dot?

As mentioned, the full stop at the end of the domain name is important. cPanel is quite smart when it comes to preventing trailing dot issues but if you are managing your DNS elsewhere then this may cause issues. If you suspect that a DNS change you made has gone wrong, there are various tools you can use to check your DNS records. Alternatively, please feel free to ask us to check the DNS for you.