Configuring DNS for Office 365

Published On April 1, 2015 | Office 365 & Cloud

How to configure DNS and how to get around some of the  problems with DNS hosting providers who don’t allow you to completely create the DNS records required for Office 365.

GRAHAM WATKINSBy Graham Watkins

This might seem like a simple topic for those of us who use well known DNS hosting providers such GoDaddy, Network Solutions or Register.com. They provide us with a web interface to our zone files and more importantly support for SRV records. SRV records are essential parts of every Office 365 deployment, in particular when you are configuring Lync Online. So lets go through the process for configuring DNS and look at how we get around some of the common problems faced by unlucky people who have a domain hosted with DNS hosting providers who don’t allow you to completely create the DNS records required for Office 365.

First, there are a few things to consider;

  • Which Office 365 plan are you using? You can only use Office 365’s DNS servers if you have an Office 365 Small Business plan. Midsize Business and Enterprise plans don’t have the option to use Microsoft’s DNS server – I guess those with Midsize Business and Enterprise plans are considered too advanced to need Office 365 to manage their DNS records.
  • Are you configuring an Office 365 Small Business Plan through delegated administration i.e. are you a Microsoft Partner configuring a client’s environment through the Partner configuration portal? In that case you can’t use Office 365’s DNS servers, you can only find the option to use Office 365’s DNS servers if you are logged in with an administrator account that is a member of the subscription you need to configure. As with Midsize Business and Enterprise plans you are expected to be capable of managing your DNS records without Office 365’s help.
  • Does your current DNS hosting provider allow you to create SRV records? Normally the answer is yes, however there are times when, even though you can create SRV records, creating the records isn’t as easy as it could be. By that I mean when you attempt to add a SRV record you aren’t given fields to enter the priority, weight and port. See Adding SRV records.
  • Domain Regulations – some registrars of top level domains define certain pre-requisites when it comes to domain registration. For example, with .co.za domains the zone file must exist on the destination DNS server for before the NS records can be changed. If the zone files don’t exist then the change of NS records will ultimately fail.

If you are lucky, then your domain is registered with a registrar for which Office 365 can automatically add the required DNS records. I use this facility when I can; all you do is provide your username and password for your domain registrar account and Office 365 recreates the records you and validates that they exist. So long as you can create SRV records then you shouldn’t have any problems.

Office 365 Small Business Plans

So where is the option that allows you to use Office 365’s DNS servers? To add a domain to Office 365 Small Business, click Manage domains for your website and email under domains. Follow the wizard by clicking Start Now, then on the next page enter your domain name and click Next. On the next page you should see the following. If you don’t see the option below then your domain is not hosted with a DNS hosting provider that Office 365 can configure, so you go straight to the following step.

Do it yourself

Do it yourself

At this point, if you want to use Office 365’s DNS servers click do it yourself. On the next page you’ll then be presented with the following options.

Let Office 365 set up and manage DNS for you

Let Office 365 set up and manage DNS for you

To configure your Office 365 subscription to use Office 365’s DNS servers, select the top option. Select the second option if you want to leave your DNS zone file with your current DNS hosting provider; this option lets you go through the normal steps for setting up the Office 365 DNS records manually. If you are confused, click Set up your domain automatically to jump back to the previous step. If you choose to use Office 365’s DNS servers and click Next you’ll be presented with the following options.

Do it yourself DNS options

Do it yourself DNS options

By select Yes to Do people in your company already have <your domain> email addresses? means that you’ll be prompted to add all existing accounts and e-mail addresses before you change the NS record for the domain. Do you already have a <your domain> website? is is prompting you to make sure you deal with the A/CNAME records that the resolution of your website’s URL.

  • Yes, and I want to keep it where it’s hosted today – Makes sure you enter the A record that points to your website.
  • Yes, but I want to design a new website in Office 365 to replace it – Highlights the option for SharePoint Online to allow you to start building your website on Office 365, the jumps to where the previous selection would have taken you.
  • No – doesn’t prompt you to add any extra records.

After you’ve made your selection, you’ll see a page like this.

Based on your choices, here are your next steps

Based on your choices, here are your next steps

If you chose no to the question relating to the location of your website then step 2 won’t appear. The first step is always to add a TXT record to your zone to prove ownership. This step must be performed on the current name servers. All DNS hosting providers will allow you to create TXT records. The record you’ll need to create will look something like this.

TXT Name: @ (or <your domain name>)
TXT Value: MS=ms38362385
TTL: leave this set to 3600 seconds (1 hour)

Whether you choose to use the Office 365 wizard or you manually create the record you should end up with a message saying that you’ve been successful in adding the domain name.

great! we confirmed you own pacificstereos.com

Domain verification confirmation

Then just follow the wizard to the end to configure Office 365.

Office 365 Midsize Business, Enterprise and Delegation of Adinistration

The process below works through adding a domain by selecting DOMAINS from the Office 365 admin center and clicking +Add domain. This will display the following webpage Add a domain to Office 365 webpage

Add a domain to Office 365

Add a domain to Office 365

The first step is always to add a TXT record to your zone to prove ownership. This step must be performed on the current name servers. All DNS hosting providers will allow you to create TXT records. The record you’ll need to create will look something like this.

TXT Name: @ (or <your domain name>)
TXT Value: MS=ms38362385
TTL: leave this set to 3600 seconds (1 hour)

Whether you choose to use the Office 365 wizard or you manually create the record you should end up with a message saying that you’ve been successful in adding the domain name.

great! we confirmed you own pacificstereos.com

Domain verification confirmation

Once you’ve done that you’ll be put back to the Add a domain to Office 365 webpage. where you can continue with configuring your Office 365 subscription.

Other DNS Related Issues

What happens if your DNS hosting provider either doesn’t support SRV records or doesn’t give you a nice web interface to edit your DNS records? There are two solutions to this, one is to transfer the domain to a DNS hosting provider that does support SRV records and provides a web interface for editing your DNS records. The second option is to use Off-Site DNS.

Transferring a domain between registrars can take some time, sometimes 7 days or more and involve you paying to renew your registration. Using Off-site DNS is normally free and takes only as long as it takes for you to change NS records, which depends on the TTL of your NS records. For example, your domain could be registered with one registrar, to whom you pay your yearly renewal fee, but the NS records point to another DNS hosting providers servers where you manage your records. I used GoDaddy for off-site DNS. Also, what do you do if you have a .co.za with a provider than doesn’t allow you to create SRV records? You can’t use Office 365’s DNS servers as the zone file needs to exist before you change the NS records so transferring your domain or using off-site DNS are you best options. Off-site DNS really can solve a lot of problems. It’s a quick, easy and cheap way to solve a multitude of problems.

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