What Is This 'DNS Propagation' & Why Is It Taking So Long?

Robyn Norgan
Apr 17, 2014

I know, I know - you set your DNS and you want to see your website now! I, like you, am also impatient. I press buttons multiple times even though I know it won't speed things up and I check my watch even though it just reminds me how that "watched pot never boils" saying is so true. I too was frustrated by the lack of instant propagation after I set my domain to my website for the first time. I may have gone back in to check and recheck (and even reset) my DNS settings again. I wanted to see my website and I wanted to see it now! After rechecking and resetting my DNS (even though it was already correct), I may have also continually reloaded the page over and over again; I admit it.

Okay, so they say admitting the problem is the first step. Now, let's take a deep breath and move forward towards a solution. I think in this case the solution will come from gaining understanding. So, let's start by defining DNS, which stands for Domain Name System. DNS specifies how Internet domain names are translated into Internet Protocol or IP addresses. DNS allows us to use domain names like instead of that long jumble of numbers that makes up your IP address (imagine having to remember that and give it out to people!). Luckily, DNS translates domain names into IP addresses, making life easier for the rest of us.

So, when you register a fabulous domain name with us and then link it up to your equally fabulous website using our awesome DNS instructions why isn't it instant? When you change your DNS settings, these changes must be updated to all root zone name servers located all over the world. Although technology is making the world seem smaller, this still isn't an instant change. That being said, it doesn't usually take all that long - anywhere from 5 minutes to 24 hours, though taking that long is very rare.

For those of us who are impatient, we can sometimes end up extending the time it takes to set. If you find yourself setting your DNS and then resetting it to say, parking, and then setting it back to what you actually wanted, you could end up waiting longer to view your website. This is because your Internet Service Provider (ISP) keeps what is known as a 'cache' or temporary storage of the location of websites (IP addresses). You computer also keeps a cache, as does your web browser, and all of these caches could also be reasons why you aren't seeing your website.

Here are a few tips to help speed up the time it takes to see your website. If you know you're planning to update your DNS settings, don't visit your website an hour before you make the change. Then once you've successfully updated your DNS settings, wait at least five to ten minutes to visit your website. If you want, you could also test whether or not your DNS has updated using an IP lookup tool. If you still aren't seeing your website after 3 hours, then we recommend trying to clear your browser's cache. You can do this by going to the history tab and then selecting something along the lines of clear history. Then you should be able to select cache as what you want to clear.

Post by Robyn Norgan