TTLs occur in the Domain Name System (DNS), where they are set by an authoritative nameserver for a particular resource record. When a caching (recursive) nameserver queries the authoritative nameserver for a resource record, it will cache that record for the time (in seconds) specified by the TTL. If a stub resolver queries the caching nameserver for the same record before the TTL has expired, the caching server will simply reply with the already cached resource record rather than retrieve it from the authoritative nameserver again. Nameservers may also have a TTL set for NXDOMAIN (acknowledgment that a domain does not exist); but they are generally short in duration (3 hours at most).
Shorter TTL for DNS Records can cause heavier loads on an authoritative nameserver, but can be useful when changing the address of critical services like web servers or MX records, and therefore are often lowered by the DNS administrator prior to a service being moved, in order to minimize disruptions.
The units used are seconds. A common TTL value for DNS is 86400 seconds, which is 24 hours. A TTL value of 86400 would mean that if a DNS record was changed, DNS servers around the world could still be showing the old value from their cache for up to 24 hours after the change.
Read more tech overviews, explainers and guides on the Secura blog.
Marks is a director at Secura hosting and one of our resident Network specialists.
Tweet me at: