[Support Guide] Should I use Netlify to manage my DNS?

Last reviewed by Netlify Support in Aug 2023

You have the option to manage your DNS at Netlify or somewhere else, and either way will work great! You can still use Netlify to build your awesome site, and leave DNS management where it is. Or Netlify can manage your DNS for free (!) and we are happy to provide this service because we know it makes people’s lives a lot easier.

I can share one of the benefits of Netlify’s DNS and one of the benefits of external DNS to help you decide.

  • Netlify DNS benefit - if your repo has multiple branches all serving different content, you can have a subdomain for every single branch in your repo, and a wildcard SSL certificate will cover them all. This will happen automatically, with one click.

  • External DNS benefit - we don’t allow inbound dns zone transfers so if you have a lot of existing DNS records its simplest & safest to use external.

If you still aren’t sure, no worries, reach out and we’ll help you decide what might be the best option for you.

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I use Netlify to manage all my domains now, even for those that don’t have a static website hosted on Netlify.

I like to keep domains in one place, plus managing DNS records from my registrar (Namecheap) is pain in the ass.

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That’s awesome @Destiner. We have quite a few people doing this and having a good experience.

Relative newbie here. I’ve had a static Gatsby site deploying on Netlify from Github for over year now at planetandsky.com. The domain is currently hosted at he.net and I’m paying $25/mo for that and one other domain hosting I’m not even using. I would like to eliminate the he.net dependency and do everything via Netlify and Github if possible. Can anyone help me get started at migrating these domains to Netlify so I can close my account at he.net?

Hi, @JoelMcKinnon. Note, we are not a domain registrar. There is more about this in the community support guide below:

So, you will still need a registrar for your custom domains. You can use Netlify DNS or keep using the registrar’s DNS (aka “external DNS”), both work for sites hosted at Netlify. There are instructions for both methods below:

Regarding the domain name you mentioned, planetandsky.com I see that registered with wildwestdomains.com and not he.net:

$ whois planetandsky.com | egrep -i "^registrar"
Registrar WHOIS Server: whois.wildwestdomains.com
Registrar URL: http://www.wildwestdomains.com
Registrar Registration Expiration Date: 2021-03-01T02:24:56Z
Registrar: Wild West Domains, LLC
Registrar IANA ID: 440
Registrar Abuse Contact Email: abuse@wildwestdomains.com
Registrar Abuse Contact Phone: +1.4806242505

So, to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what role he.net plays in hosting your sites. It is hard to say what you need to do regarding that hosting service without knowing what services they are providing you currently. Would you be willing to please tell us more about how you currently use their service?

Hi Luke,

Thanks for the great info. It turns out that he.net was hosting another domain that I was not using, new-worlds.org. That one is the one I would like to switch to netlify so I can create a new portfolio site. According to the whois record the registrar is tucows but they say I have to have domain provider point to a different host. The provider is ziggle and I’m having trouble reaching them thus far.

As for planetandsky, he.net confirmed they weren’t hosting it, so I went ahead and closed the account.


Hi, @JoelMcKinnon, for new-worlds.org I do see that Netlify DNS is being used (but that the domain is registered via Tucows).

You can see the Netlify DNS configuration here:

Note, this custom domain isn’t linked to at sites at Netlify at this time. To do that, add the custom domain (or some subdomain of it) to the site settings under Site Name > Settings > Domain management > Custom domains.

If there are other questions about hosting websites with our service or about Netlify DNS, please let us know and we will be happy to answer.

My team is using AWS to manage our DNS – We’re following best practice and want to keep our DNS managed by one centralized system (AWS). AKA We don’t want to set the precedent that it is okay to move DNS configurations outside of our centralized tool of choice. So first question, does this make sense?

Secondly, isn’t pointing custom domains to Netlify name servers, considered “managed by Netlify”?

Thirdly, is it possible to still take advantage of Netlify’s letsencrypt auto-renew feature without pointing to Netlify…? I can safely assume not… but want to check.

Do you suggest a workflow so we don’t need to manually renew certs? i.e. create a script to renew a cert and deploy to netlify sites w/ a cron job in CI?

Thanks so much in advance, for any insight!

So first question, does this make sense?

Sure! Why not? You’re absolutely entitled to have a business-preferred provider or vendor. Reducing the complexity of a tech/config stack is valid.

Secondly, isn’t pointing custom domains to Netlify name servers, considered “managed by Netlify”?

Wherever your NS values point, that’s where we consider the DNS to be managed.

Thirdly, is it possible to still take advantage of Netlify’s letsencrypt auto-renew feature without pointing to Netlify…?

We will issue Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates for any site we host with a custom domain – it doesn’t matter if you allow us to manage your DNS (using Netlify DNS with NS values configured at your registrar) or you use external DNS (typically CNAME/A records at your DNS provider).

Hope this helps!

I don’t understand what this means. Netlify allows me to add preexisting DNS records for email, etc. when setting up Netlify DNS

Hi, @Ethicli. Laura is recommending that, if people are not confident copying their existing DNS configuration, they use the external DNS instructions instead.

Why? Because many people forget to manually copy their DNS records from their existing DNS service to Netlify DNS when they activate it. The issue is so frequent that we created a support guide to explain the issue and how to fix it here:

So, yes, you can manually transfer your existing DNS configuration. Laura’s recommendation is for people that are unsure about manually transferring those DNS records.

If there are other questions, please let us know.

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I currently have DNS hosted at another hosting provider. I am considering moving the records over to Netlify including MX, that’s fine. The Netlify site will use the apex domain but we also have a blog on the existing domain as a subdomain. Would there be an issue to point to the blog on a subdomain if it’s on another server and if not, should it be an A record to point to the server IP it’s currently on? If a subdomain and we use a CNAME, we would need a different domain root name wouln’t we? Just trying to decide if to keep DNS where it is external to Netlify or move it over.

Hi @betterimagesofai,

The only problem with pointing a subdomain out of Netlify is that Netlify won’t be able to serve a SSL certificate for that. So if you can get a SSL certificate for your subdomain, then I believe you’d not have any other issue.

I am relatively new to Netlify (but LOVE next.js) and wanted to migrate my site over to netlify.
I used a personal domain for testing and it worked great (synced with github and auto deploy, yay!)
HOWEVER, I was setting up an external domain, because I have a lot of custom dns records and simply wanted to keep it where it was. I set it up but the SSL cert said it will take up to 24 hours for it to propagate.

Is there a way to migrate to netlify with SSL without a production outage?

I’m guessing the only way is to bring my own cert. I do love the let’s encrypt wildcard feature though. :wink:

Hi @StartupsAndCode,

We’ve a guide detailing this:

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Hi hrishikesh,

Thanks for the reply. Another user just mentioned it is against the terms of service to use NEtlify DNS to point to another site (even as a subdomain?). Am confused between the responses.

Also would it be best to use a CNAME record to point to a subdomain on another hosting service, even if it uses the same root domain as the one on Netlify (for instance blog.example), or is it best to add an A record in the NEtlify DNS and point to a specific server IP instead?

MAny thanks.


Yes, that would be correct if you’re not using Netlify DNS to point your root domain to a Netlify website and using Netlify DNS only to manage the DNS.

For example, if you have example.com using Netlify DNS, and example.com is connected to a Netlify website, that’s fine. You can have any other subdomains pointing elsewhere, we don’t mind.

But, if you’ve configured Netlify DNS for example.com and are only using Netlify DNS to create subdomains and point them elsewhere, that would not be acceptable.

About the second question, it’s up to you. If you can get away with only a CNAME or a A record, feel free to use just one of them. But if you need both the records, you should add it. it depends on how the destination is requiring it.

Actually my original scenario was using NetlifyDNS for the root domain website like example.com which is hosted on Netlify, but using Netlify DNS to also point a subdomain blog.example.com which would sit on another hosting provider (it is built in WordPress). If I used a CNAME to do that, it needs to use a URL but would that be a problem if the destination was blog.example.com while example.com root is set up on Netllify? Or would an A record pointing to a server IP be better in terms of resolving the root domain (on Netlify) and its subdomains (if one is on another server)?



Well, that sounds like incorrect DNS setup.

If example.com is being hosted on Netlify and you create a CNAME record for blog.example.com and value as example.com, it will resolve back to Netlify and since that domain is not mapped to any Netlify website, it would return a not found error.

Your WordPress installation should probably have a different URL to which you could point the CNAME entry. If you don’t have that, you could definitely use A record as long as you have an IP address. There should not be much of a performance difference to compare here, both configurations are okay.

Yes, agree it would bounce back to Netlify. Currently, I have DNS hosted at my hosting provider for the root domain and it has a subdomain for the blog.example.com hosted there on WP while the main site is built on Netlify. We will point example.com at the Netlify site and was weighing up whether to do this from Netlify DNS and how to then point a subdomain blog.example.com out to the current WP site. I know the general server IP, but not sure how it gets resolved to that WP at a local level. If I create a CNAME in the Netlify DNS to point blog.example.com to the WP site, it sounds like I will have to chance the domain it is on now to a different one, to avoid the DNS issues, won’t I?

If instead I keep the DNS where it is and add an A record and CNAME to the Netlify site, instead, how does Netlify resolve the A record pointed to it to the Netlify site? I did add a DNS Zone in Netlify with the custom domain to see the setup, but I guess I need to remove it to see how the Netlify site maps from the standard IP to the right Netlify site name?

Again, just trying to weigh up the two options for where DNS is hosted and what the actions would need to be.


Marc Goblot