Domain name propagation is the process by which the new or updated details of a domain name, such as which IP address it points to, spread or “propagate” across the global network of Domain Name System (DNS) servers.
Here’s a breakdown of how domain name propagation works:
- Domain Name Registration or Modification: When you register a new domain name or make changes to an existing one (like updating its nameservers or A records), these changes are first saved on the domain registrar’s DNS servers.
- Propagation Begins: Those changes then begin to spread or “propagate” to other DNS servers around the world. This isn’t an instant process because there are many DNS servers, and they don’t all update at the same time.
- TTL (Time To Live): Each DNS record has a TTL value, which specifies how long the information can be cached by servers and browsers before checking for a new version. If you’ve set a long TTL, it might take a while for changes to fully propagate because servers will wait until the TTL expires before fetching the updated information.
- Checking Status: During propagation, some people might still see the old website or destination when they visit your domain, while others (perhaps in a different geographical location or using a different ISP) might see the new one.
- Completion: After a certain period, which can range from a few hours to 48 hours (or sometimes even more, depending on various factors), the changes should have propagated to most DNS servers worldwide, ensuring a consistent experience for most users accessing the domain.
It usually takes between 12 – 24 hours to complete but sometimes can be as long as 48 hours.
It’s worth noting that while the propagation process itself is a product of the decentralized nature of DNS, the actual duration of propagation can often be influenced by the TTL value set on individual DNS records. If you’re planning to make changes and want them to propagate faster, setting a shorter TTL in advance can help (though there are trade-offs, as frequent DNS lookups can introduce slight delays for end-users and additional load on DNS servers).