Windows Server 2003 : Configuring Zone Properties and Transfers (part 4)

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Expires After

The value you configure in the Expires After box determines the length of time that a secondary server, without any contact with its master server, continues to answer queries from DNS clients. After this time elapses, the data is considered unreliable. The default value is 1 day.

Minimum (Default) TTL

The value you configure in the Minimum (Default) TTL box determines the default Time to Live (TTL) that is applied to all resource records in the zone. The default value is 1 hour.

TTL values are not relevant for resource records within their authoritative zones. Instead, the TTL refers to the cache life of a resource record in nonauthoritative servers. A DNS server that has cached a resource record from a previous query discards the record when that record’s TTL has expired.

Exam Tip

If you have deployed caching-only servers in your network in addition to a primary server, increasing the minimum TTL can decrease name resolution traffic between the caching-only servers and the primary server.

TTL For This Record

The value you configure in the TTL For This Record text box determines the TTL of the present SOA resource record. This value overrides the default value setting in the preceding field.

Once configured in the DNS console, an SOA resource record is represented textually in the zone file, as shown in this example:

5099 ; serial number
3600 ; refresh (1 hour)
600 ; retry (10 mins)
86400 ; expire (1 day)
60 ) ; minimum TTL (1 min)

Name Servers Tab

The Name Servers tab allows you to configure NS resource records for a zone. These records cannot be created elsewhere in the DNS console. You use NS resource records to specify the authoritative name servers for a given zone. The NS resource record of the first primary server of a zone is configured automatically.


Every zone must contain at least one NS resource record at the zone root.

The following line is an example NS record taken from the database file for the zone:

@  NS

In this record, the “@” symbol represents the zone defined by the SOA record in the same zone file. The complete entry, then, effectively maps the domain to a DNS server hosted on a computer named


In primary zones, zone transfers by default are allowed only to servers specified on the Name Servers tab. This restriction is new to Windows Server 2003.


You use the WINS tab—or the WINS-R tab in reverse lookup zones—to configure Windows Internet Name Service (WINS) servers to aid in name resolution for a given zone after DNS servers have failed to resolve a queried name.

Zone Transfers Tab

The Zone Transfers tab, shown in Figure 6, allows you to restrict zone transfers from the local master server. For primary zones, zone transfers to secondary servers by default are restricted only to name servers configured on the Name Servers tab. Alternatively, you can customize zone transfer restrictions by selecting the Only To The Following Servers option and then specifying the IP addresses of allowed secondary servers in the list below this option.

Figure 6. Zone Transfers tab

Secondary zones by default do not allow zone transfers to other secondary zones, but you can enable this feature simply by selecting the Allow Zone Transfers check box.

Off the Record

In Windows 2000, the default setting on the Zone Transfers tab for primary zones was to allow transfers to any server, but this feature created an unnecessary security hole. Think about it: why would you want to enable anyone who can access your DNS server to set up a secondary server and peruse your network’s resource records? Restricting zone transfers by default to known name servers is a lot smarter—it allows you to prevent unauthorized copying of zone data.


The Zone Transfers tab also allows you to configure notification to secondary servers. To perform this task, click Notify on the Zone Transfers tab when zone transfers are enabled. This action opens the Notify dialog box, in which you can specify secondary servers that should be notified whenever a zone update occurs at the local master server. By default, all servers listed on the Name Servers tab are automatically notified of zone changes.

Notification and Zone Transfer Initiation

Zone transfers in standard zones can be triggered by any of three events:

  • They can be triggered when the refresh interval of the primary zone’s SOA resource record expires.

  • They can be triggered when a secondary server boots up.

    In both cases, the secondary server initiates an SOA query to find out whether any updates in the zone have occurred. Transfers occur only if the zone database has been revised.

  • Zone transfers are automatically triggered when a change occurs in the configuration of the primary server and this server has specified particular secondary DNS servers to be notified of zone updates.

When a zone transfer initiates, the secondary server performs either an incremental zone transfer (IXFR) query or an all zone transfer (AXFR) query to the master server. Computers running Windows 2000 Server and Windows Server 2003 perform IXFR queries by default. Through IXFR queries, only the newly modified data is transferred across the network. Computers running Windows NT Server do not support IXFR queries and can perform only AXFR queries. Through AXFR queries, the entire zone database is transferred to the secondary server.

Primary DNS servers running Windows Server 2003 support both IXFR and AXFR zone transfers.


You do not need to configure zone transfers or notification among domain controllers or DNS servers in Active Directory–integrated zones. For the servers within these zones, transfers are conducted automatically.

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