What is DNS propagation and why does it take so long?
Long story short, DNS propagation is how long it takes for the internet to “learn” that you’ve changed something with your domain.
That’s oversimplified, so let’s dive a little deeper. What we commonly refer to as “the internet” is a network of internet service provider (ISP) nodes located all around the world. These ISP nodes are in constant communication with each other and their connections are what make sharing and distributing information and data across the globe possible. All of these nodes cache, or remember, information to make your experience using the internet or accessing a website smoother and faster. Specifically, some of that information is where your domain name is directing visitors.
Your domain name is NOT where your website is hosted. Think of your domain as an address and nothing more. It’s just an easy to remember combination of letters and/or numbers with .com, .net, .org or something else tacked on the end. When somebody searches your domain, their browser asks the internet “where is this address?”. The internet digs up what’s called an A-record which has the IP address of your host and sends you that way.
When you change your A record to a new IP address, it takes a while for all of those ISP nodes around the world to clear their caches and “forget” that old IP address and replace it with the new one. There are a few factors to how long this takes, usually it happens within a half or hour or so, but we’ve seen it take up to 48 hours before!
Need help propagating your DNS to change you domain? Reach out to our web director, Zach.