How Office 365 manages DNS records

When you set up your domain in Office 365, DNS records are required so that email, instant messaging (Skype for Business), and other services work correctly.

There are two options for managing your domain's DNS records with Office 365.

  • One way is to keep managing the DNS records for Office 365 yourself at your DNS host. This option is sometimes called partial redelegation.

  • The second way is to have Office 365 create and manage the Office 365 DNS records for your domain after you change your nameserver (NS) records to point to Office 365. This option is sometimes called full redelegation.

The domains setup wizard steps you through setting up your domain using one of the two options. Start the setup wizard by choosing Add domain on the Domains page in Office 365.

Tip: If you've already added your domain and now you want to switch between the two types of Office 365 DNS management, you can take steps to do that (unless you have a GoDaddy domain). Follow these steps to change how DNS is managed for your domain.

When you manage your DNS records, you edit them at your DNS hosting provider. When Office 365 manages your DNS records, after you change your name server records, the other records are stored in Office 365.

Options for how your domain's DNS is managed

  • Set up records automatically for GoDaddy domains: If your domain's nameservers point to GoDaddy (that is, if GoDaddy is your domain's DNS host), Office 365 can automatically set up DNS records for your Office 365 services for you at GoDaddy. This is the simplest option if you have a GoDaddy domain; but you can opt (in the wizard) to add the records manually yourself, if you want to. Note, however, that you can't choose to have Office 365 manage DNS for a GoDaddy domain.

  • Have Office 365 set up your records: If your domain isn't hosted by GoDaddy and you don't already have a website that you actively use with your domain, you can have Office 365 create and host DNS records for email and other Office 365 services. We recommend this option, to let Office 365 set up your records at Office 365, because it requires less work for you as you get started. With this approach, you change your nameserver records, and then Office 365 takes care of all the service-specific records, like setting up your MX record for email.

  • Add the records yourself: If you don't have a GoDaddy domain and you do have a website you're using, the best option is this last one, which is to add DNS records for email and other Office 365 services at your DNS host yourself. You can follow step-by-step instructions that we provide for a number of DNS hosts (choose your DNS host from the list that's provided).

In the domains setup wizard, you'll be guided to choose one of these options.

With any of the options, many things are the same

Many things are the same no matter which option you use:

  • You can use a custom domain name for your email addresses.

    When you add your domain to Office 365, typically your domain's MX record is updated to point to Office 365, and ALL email sent to that domain will start coming to Office 365. Make sure you've created mailboxes in Office 365 for everyone who has email on your domain BEFORE you change the MX record.

    Tip: Don't want to move email for everyone on your domain to Office 365? You can take steps to pilot Office 365 with just a few email addresses instead.

  • You can host your public website at your current DNS host or at another provider. Or, if you have an Office 365 subscription that includes a SharePoint Online Public Website, you can host it on Office 365.

  • You can have multiple domains.

  • You still must pay your domain registrar to continue owning and using your domain name.

But some things are different, depending on the option you choose

Office 365 creates and hosts the DNS records

You manage the DNS records at your DNS host

Advantages

  • You don’t have to worry about making mistakes in the values you enter for the DNS records for Office 365 services.

  • You have more flexibility in your choice of domain registrar and DNS host. Any provider that lets you change your nameserver records will work, even if the provider doesn’t support all the required record types.

  • When Office 365 adds new DNS records, you don’t have to make updates.

Disadvantages

  • You can’t change your DNS records to host email outside of Office 365.

  • If you already use a public website with your domain for its address, like www.fourthcoffee.com, you must redirect people to that address from Office 365. Setting up redirection requires a static IP address, which is not always easily available for public websites.

  • If your current domain registrar doesn’t allow you to change your domain's nameserver records, you have to switch to a different registrar to use this DNS management option.

Advantages

  • You control the DNS records for Office 365 services.

  • If you have a public website with your domain for its address, like www.fourthcoffee.com, you don't have to worry about using redirection to make sure people can still get to your website after you set up your domain in Office 365.

  • You have the flexibility to host email somewhere else, such as with an on-premises Exchange server.

Disadvantages

  • You have to set up the DNS records for Office 365 services yourself (unless you have a GoDaddy domain).

  • If your current DNS host doesn’t support all of the required record types for Office 365, some Office 365 features won’t be available and you might need to switch to a different DNS host. Learn about the potential service limitations.

  • When Office 365 changes requirements for DNS records, or adds new services, you have to make updates yourself at your DNS host.

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