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Server features

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Server features

The Domain Name System (DNS) Server service provides the following:

  • An RFC-compliant DNS server

    DNS is an open protocol and is standardized by a set of Request for Comments (RFCs). Microsoft supports and complies with these standard specifications.

    For more information, see DNS RFCs.

  • Interoperability with other DNS server implementations

    Because the DNS Server service is RFC-compliant and can use standard DNS data file and resource record formats, it can successfully work with most other DNS server implementations, such as those that use the Berkeley Internet Name Domain (BIND) software.

    For more information, see Interoperability issues.

  • Support for Active Directory

    DNS is required for support of the Active Directory® directory service. If you install Active Directory on a server, you can automatically install and configure a DNS server if a DNS server that meets the Active Directory requirements cannot be located.

    First, in the Active Directory Installation Wizard, you specify the DNS name of the Active Directory domain for which you are promoting the server to become a domain controller. Later in the installation process, the wizard tests for the following:

    1. Based on its TCP/IP client configuration, it checks to see whether a preferred DNS server is configured for its use.

    2. If a preferred DNS server is available, it queries to find the primary authoritative server for the DNS name of the Active Directory domain you specified earlier in the wizard.

    3. It then tests to see whether the authoritative primary server can support and accept dynamic updates as described in the dynamic update protocol (RFC 2136).

    4. If, at this point in the process, a supporting DNS server cannot be located to accept updates for the specified DNS domain name you are using with Active Directory, you are provided with the option to install the DNS Server service locally.

    5. If you choose to install the DNS Server service locally, the IP address for the current preferred DNS server is used to configure a forwarder on the local DNS server. This configuration maintains any existing resolution to an Internet Service Provider (ISP).

    In general, the use of the Windows Server 2003 DNS Server service is strongly recommended for the best possible integration and support of Active Directory and enhanced DNS server features. You can, however, use another type of DNS server to support Active Directory deployment.

    When using other types of DNS servers, consider additional issues related to DNS interoperability. For more information, see Interoperability issues.


  • Enhancements to DNS zone storage in Active Directory

    DNS zones can be stored in the domain or application directory partitions of Active Directory. A partition is a data structure within Active Directory used to distinguish data for different replication purposes. You can specify in which Active Directory partition to store the zone and, consequently, the set of domain controllers between which that zone's data will be replicated.

    For more information, see DNS zone replication in Active Directory.


  • Conditional forwarders

    The DNS Server service extends a standard forwarder configuration with conditional forwarders. A conditional forwarder is a DNS server on a network that is used to forward DNS queries according to the DNS domain name in the query. For example, a DNS server can be configured to forward all the queries it receives for names ending with to the IP address of a specific DNS server or to the IP addresses of multiple DNS servers.

    For more information, see Understanding forwarders.

  • Stub zones

    DNS supports a new zone type called a stub zone. A stub zone is a copy of a zone that contains only those resource records necessary to identify the authoritative DNS servers for that zone. You can use a stub zone instead of a secondary zone in situations where replicating all the zone data would be undesirable, such as over a slow network link. Note, however, that this replication efficiency is at the expense of resolution efficiency because the server hosting the stub zone is not authoritative for the zone and so must refer all queries for the zone to other servers.

    For more information, see Understanding stub zones.

  • Enhanced DNS security features

    DNS provides enhanced security administration for the DNS Server service, the DNS Client service, and DNS data. For more information, see Security information for DNS.

  • Integration with other Microsoft networking services

    The DNS Server service offers integration with other services and contains features beyond those specified in the RFCs. These include integration with Active Directory, WINS, and DHCP services.

    For more information, see Active Directory integration; WINS lookup integration; Dynamic update.

  • Improved ease of administration

    The DNS console offers an improved graphical user interface for managing the DNS Server service. Also, there are several configuration wizards for performing common server administration tasks. In addition to the DNS console, other tools are provided to help you better manage and support DNS servers and clients on your network.

    For more information, see DNS tools.

  • RFC-compliant dynamic update protocol support

    The DNS Server service allows clients to dynamically update resource records, based on the dynamic update protocol (RFC 2136). This improves DNS administration by reducing the time needed to manually manage these records. Computers running the DNS Client service can dynamically register their DNS names and IP addresses.

    For more information, see Dynamic update.

  • Support for incremental zone transfer between servers

    Zone transfers are used between DNS servers to replicate information about a portion of the DNS namespace. Incremental zone transfer is used to replicate only the changed portions of a zone, conserving network bandwidth.

    For more information, see Understanding zones and zone transfer.

  • Support for new resource record types

    The DNS Server service includes support for several new resource record (RR) types. These types, which include the service location (SRV) and ATM address (ATMA) RRs, expand the possibilities for using DNS as a names database service.

    For more information, see Resource records reference.

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