In the context of the Domain Name System (DNS), time to live is a setting determining the length of time DNS resolvers should cache a particular DNS record. A DNS record’s time to live is measured in seconds — for example, a value of 3,600 means that the DNS resolver should cache the record for an hour before requesting a new one.
Temporarily storing DNS records in the cache memory of a DNS resolver can speed up DNS lookups — if the DNS resolver already has the IP address of a particular domain in its cache, it can respond to a query immediately, without the need to send another request to the authoritative DNS server.
However, if the IP address of a particular domain has changed since the DNS record was cached, the user will not be able to connect. Time to live values solve the problem by requiring DNS servers to periodically update their cache with the most recent results. Time to live values must balance this need for updates with DNS resolution efficiency.
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