I am willing to bet that most implementations of Microsoft DNS are those that are integrated with Active Directory. When setting up DNS with AD, setting up multiple DNS servers is fairly trivial because AD takes care of the zone transfers, etc. I am resisting putting the Blaine-Juchems household into a domain because I really don’t want to have to fight the same fight at home as I do at work. Frankly, the DNS is more work than it should be, but the fact we are hosting websites that I would like to actually visit inside of our network dictates the need for DNS. A quick and dirty definition of DNS (Domain Name System) is what turns a site address/name (like www.google.com) into a piece of data that gets you where you want to go on the internet. In my case specifically, www.teamjuchems.com was not a valid name inside of my network and so I couldn’t access my own blog inside of my own house. Lame. If you don’t care about DNS, I would suggest you come back when I have a friendlier post.
Installing and configuring DNS is pretty easy. Depending on what version of Windows Server you are running, you either add DNS as a network service or as a new role. From there, you setup a forward zone, which is were you catch local DNS traffic and turn names into IP addresses, and a reverse zone, which turns IP address into names. I won’t go into extreme details here as it gets kind of messy, I am sure that Google will get you much better walkthroughs than what I feel like providing right now.
What will cause you some grief is that if you aren’t running a Active Directory Domain along side of your DNS implementation is that your hosts won’t have a fully qualified domain name, which will really come into play when you want to setup zone transfers and DHCP with a default DNS suffix. I was at a loss at how to do this as the trick of configuring the network adapter to have a specific suffix wasn’t working for the DNS services even though ipconfig was showing the correct FQDN. Well, there is a button for that!
Once I had setup the actual DNS suffix in a place so close to where I have been hundreds of times before (almost the same spot where you would add the computer to a domain) the error messages went away and the StartOfAuthority issues I had been seeing went away.
Now, I also made the wise choice of burning two valuable hours of sleeping time trying to get another zone transfer completed successfully. Turns out that the zone files had been corrupted in the DNS share of the primary DNS server, so I exported it out to a .txt file and manually recreated the two records. Once again I added the second DNS server as a name server for the zone and on the second server configured the secondary forwarding zone and poof, it worked. How does a DNS record get corrupted on a clean server? How does Microsoft have error codes that they don’t have in their resolution database (DNS error 1501, I feel pretty special…)
It works now and I am ready to enable DHCP on my Windows Home Server and flip my primary router into access point mode, effectively flattening out my network and resolving some lingering port forwarding issues.
Kristin makes comments about how overly complicated our home setup is and usually I brush them off as I am learning a lot as I go along. Sometimes, though, I definitely agree. Like at 1am this morning.