What is DNS Propagation?

Published: September 2, 2020

If you’ve ever been involved in modern computers; worked on a website; or talked with your Internet Service Provider about connection issues, then the chances are high that you’ve heard of, or had to deal with, DNS.  This acronym stands for Domain Name System, and this is the internet’s universal record of associated domain names and IP addresses.  Basically, everyone needs DNS to tell their browser how to translate that name in the address bar into the website you actually want to visit.  DNS Propagation is an important part of this process as far as website owners and developers are concerned.  With all that in mind, let’s find out what this critical process is.


Anytime you change your phone number, one of the first things you do is let your friends and acquaintances know about it so they can still get ahold of you.  DNS Propagation works on the same principle in relation to the domain name server of any hosted domain.  Essentially if you change who is hosting your domain, or if your domain hosting service changes their domain name servers, the rest of the digital world needs to be notified of the change so that the average browser can still find that particular domain.  DNS Propagation is the time it takes for the information update to fully take place across the internet.  Propagation of the new information can take up to 72 hours but is generally much quicker.

What effect does this have on traffic through domains?

For the most part, DNS Propagation is fast and smooth, and the internet barely notices by the time the globe makes another rotation.  With that being said, it is important to remember that ISP servers that cached the domain name before the change was propagated will not be able to access that website until the cache expires or the propagation finishes for that ISP.  During that interval, some users will receive an error when they attempt to access that domain.  This is, of course, temporary and unfortunately unavoidable, but it is something to keep in mind whenever the domain owner or the domain host initiates any DNS changes.

Can you track the status of DNS Propagation?

Since DNS Propagation is always in flux it’s difficult to track in real time.  However, finding out the current status of your DNS isn’t too difficult.  Both paid and free services exist allowing you to check your DNS against servers across the globe, with the servers reporting back if they recognize the domain name in comparison to their cached information.  Your hosting service is also capable of verifying if and when a domain name is moved and what the internet thinks the DNS should be.

How often does DNS Propagation happening and do I need to respond to it?

DNS Propagation always happens in response to a change that you or your hosting service makes to your domain.  So basically the process is hands-free, no interaction is required on your part; in fact, sitting back and letting the servers do their work is generally the best response for smooth and stress-free transitions.  Occasionally hosting services will initiate DNS Propagation when they overhaul their system, but for the most part, propagation only happens when you want it to.

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