What is a CNAME record

In this guide we will help you to understand what exactly a "CNAME record" is.

For more information on how to manage your DNS settings, please see our article on "How To Change DNS Settings."

What's a CNAME record?

CNAME records are used to link two domain names to one another, with the title standing for "Canonical Name". The simplest example of this would be if you owned "www.example.com" and wanted to link it with "example.com" as well. By doing this, whenever people search for either name, they will be directed towards the same server.

To avoid confusion and prevent maintaining multiple CNAME records for the same domain, your provider will usually create an A record for "example.com", directing people to the relevant server IP address and a CNAME record for "www.example.com", pointing them towards "example.com".

Therefore, example.com directs people to the right server, and www.example.com points people to the previous address and, therefore, to the right server. This makes it simpler when changing IP addresses since you'll only need to update the A record for the first web address, with the second automatically inheriting the change. 


There are several restrictions applicable to CNAME records, including:

  • CNAME records must point to a separate domain name and can never direct browsers to an IP address. 
  • CNAME records cannot exist alongside other records for the same domain name. For example, you cannot have a CNAME record and a TXT record for www.example.com.
  • One CNAME record can direct you to another CNAME, but this setup is typically not advised since it can impact performance. Wherever you can, your CNAME record should direct people as clearly as possible to the target name. This will reduce any potential performance overheads. 

CNAME record format

Like most other records for your domain names, a CNAME record conforms to the standard top-level definition for formatting. This includes the domain names, TTL and relevant content. The RDATA section typically includes only a single element, the domain name that indicates the "Canonical" or primary name for the record. Within the CNAME record data itself, it will look like this: CNAME .

CNAME and Redirect

Some people may have heard of a CNAME record being referred to as a "redirect", usually in the context of web redirects through (HTTP). However, there is no direct link between a CNAME record and an HTTP redirect. Therefore, when your CNAME record is configured, it will not automatically lead to an HTTP redirect. If you want an HTTP redirect, whichever server responds to your request must return the right HTTP response, which you cannot directly achieve through a CNAME.

Manage CNAME records

The domain terminal created by your domain provider should include a CNAME record linked to your domain name. In the relevant section, you can find your fully-qualified domain name (FQDN), the time-to-live (TTL) and the canonical name for your domain, represented as .

Need help?

If you have any problems following this guide or modifying your DNS settings, please contact our team here.