Why we built Domain Backup

Domain Backup, created and maintained by Causality Ventures, stems from our experiences as the product division of the Swedish digital agency Causality Agency. Our journey to create Domain Backup grew out of the challenges we faced while managing our clients' DNS records.

The problem

At Causality Agency, one of our key offerings is managed hosting. We host a variety of websites and web applications, mainly utilizing Amazon Web Services. Besides application hosting, we also manage DNS settings for most of our clients.

However, we were frustrated with our DNS hosting due to the sheer variety of DNS providers and the potential for multiple users to access the provider accounts. For some clients with numerous subsidiaries, multiple DNS providers are used within the same company. As a result, we're handling thousands of domains spread across hundreds of different accounts across about a dozen different DNS providers.

This situation posed multiple challenges:

  • If someone deleted records or entire domains, the process of recreating those records would be laborious and complex. It could involve combing through years of email threads to find the correct settings, a task made more difficult when the relevant personnel could have moved on or other agencies have been involved. 

  • Minor mistakes in DNS settings can lead to significant issues. Emails could be blocked or filtered into spam folders for thousands of employees, e-commerce sites could stop working, or printers could become inaccessible. Detecting and troubleshooting these problems can be arduous and time-consuming.

  • Lastly, clients frequently inquire about their domains and DNS records. This can range from questions about additions or removals, or more specific queries about their domains.

As our managed hosting business grew, we got increasingly concerned about not having robust backups. Initially, we used local scripts to back up domains on AWS Route 53, where most of our clients' domains were managed. However, we found these backups inadequate and began looking for alternatives. Unfortunately, we found no suitable services that also supported the large European DNS providers that many of our clients used.

Internal dashboard

Consequently, we built a small PHP/Laravel dashboard that executed nightly backups of records. This dashboard provided immediate noticeable benefits:

  • It gave us peace of mind knowing we had backups in case of a disaster.

  • It provided email notifications of any changes, allowing us to confirm and communicate any unauthorized changes to our clients.

  • It allowed more of us to make changes without fear of catastrophic errors.

  • It gave us a comprehensive overview of all domains, improving our ability to respond to client inquiries swiftly and confidently.

Transitioning to a SaaS Model

After utilizing this internal tool for several months, we realized its potential value to others. As a result, we started developing it into a Software as a Service offering. To avoid disruptions to our on use, we started with a new codebase but kept the same tech stack.

Domain Backup now operates as a simple but robust Laravel application built with PHP, HTML/CSS and some vanilla JavaScript. It’s hosted on AWS with ECS Fargate (with auto-scaling), Aurora MySQL and Cloudfront. The core of the application is feature-complete, but we are continually exploring new improvement ideas and extending support for more DNS providers as needed.

A few features we have added since launch are additional DNS providers, bulk zone file export, helpful explanations for most non obvious DNS records, improved search and a domain lookup feature.

On the roadmap for this year is a record comparison feature that makes it easy to verify that multiple domains have certain records, record validations and support for even more DNS providers.