With the increasing demand for websites, more and more people are searching for terms like what is a nameserver? If you are building your website you must have come across the term nameserver. In this article, we will learn all about domain name servers and try to find all the answers to your doubts.
In this article, we will cover the topics like –
- What is Nameserver?
- What is the difference between nameserver and DNS?
- How to assign a Nameserver to a domain?
- Ways to Check Nameservers of your Website
- Using Private Nameservers
What is Nameserver?
A Nameserver is an integral part of the Domain Name System (DNS), which is popularly known as the ‘Directory of IP Addresses’. It refers to the address of the server where you want to host your website. A domain name needs to be resolved into a valid IP address of a physical server to open a website. A nameserver is the address of that web server.
Without a nameserver, it would have been almost impossible to access a website, even if they exist. Imagine if there was no concept of Nameserver, users might have to remember and enter the lengthy IP addresses in their web browser whenever they want to go to a certain website. How difficult or nearly impossible it would have been to memorize the IP addresses of hundreds of websites that a person regularly browses. How search engines like Google’s search page would have looked like in the absence of a domain name or nameservers.
A website is a set of files, and sometimes a combination of files and databases. These files and databases are hosted on a server. So, ideally, when a user wants to look at a website he will be accessing these files/database stored at a particular server. To make it possible when a user enters a web address, the request is redirected to the specific web server. Name Server makes it possible to redirect the request to that server, using its IP address.
Every valid Name Server is associated with the IP address of that server. So, this is how it all works:
- The user enters a website address (example: google.com) in the browser.
- The request is sent to the respective domain’s Nameserver by the browser.
- The browser receives back an IP address from the Nameserver.
- Another request is sent by the browser to the IP address supplied by the Name Server
- The server associated with that IP address receives the request
- If the files and other details are configured correctly the browser will display the website content on the browser.
- If the files are not found or there are any other misconfigurations it will return an error to the browser. You can go through our other article about the Status Codes of the errors and what they mean.
The above process takes just a few seconds and in some cases not even a second to complete, hence impossible for the end-user to observe the transitions and transactions.
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What is the difference between a Nameserver and a DNS?
A DNS is the Directory of the Internet, where it searches for the IP address associated with the specific domain name to deliver various web-based services. Whereas a Nameserver provides the specific IP address of particular services associated with that domain name.
Simply speaking, the DNS is used to identify the specific Nameserver, which in turn provides the IP address of web hosting server.
How to assign a Nameserver to a domain?
Whenever you purchase a hosting package, the provider will provide you with a set of Nameservers, a Primary Nameserver and a Secondary Nameserver which will look like this:
You might find it at other places depending on your hosting provider and you might also receive it in the welcome email from the hosting provider.
You have to copy these Nameservers, and enter it into your domain management interface like this:
Changing Nameservers for Namecheap Domain Registrar
- Login to Namecheap account
- Go to Domain List and click on the Manage button against the intended domain
- Under the Nameserver Section select Custom DNS.
- Add Primary Nameserver first and then the secondary Nameserver
Changing Nameservers on GoDaddy
- Log in to GoDaddy account
- Go to Manage Domains under your account
- Click on Settings Icon on the respective domain
- Then Click on Manage DNS
- Click on ‘Change’ button under Nameservers
- Add Primary Nameserver first and then the secondary Nameserver
- Click on Save
Once you have changed, it might take a few hours to completely propagate the updated nameservers. It may take anywhere from 10 minutes to up to 4 hours in most cases. If it doesn’t propagate within 4 hours it is advised to contact the support team.
You can change other DNS records from your domain management interface. But once you have changed your Nameservers you can change other DNS records as well from the Cpanel. You might find a DNS Zone Editor, where you can select the type of record to update, as shown below:
Ways to Check Nameservers of your Website:
The easiest way to check what nameservers your website or any other website is using Whois Domain Lookup Service, which is free to use:
Enter the domain name in the input box, and it will return with the Domain Info as well as Nameservers:
The other method involves using Poweshell on your Windows computer.
- Search for Powerssell in your Start bar and open Windows PowerShell.
- In the interface type ‘nslookup’ and hit enter
- Type ‘set q=NS’ and hit enter
- Type ‘domain-name.com’ and hit enter
- The name servers will be displayed.
If you are using iOS, open the terminal and execute the command:
host -t NS domain-name.com
Using Private Nameservers
There are lots of benefits of using a private nameserver that often comes with private, virtual private servers as well as dedicated servers. In shared hosting, the same nameservers are used by multiple domains. Sometimes having a bad neighbour can cost you search rankings, hence advisable to use private nameservers if your budget allows for that.
It is also a common practice adopted by hosting resellers to have private nameservers. Besides being good for branding, a reseller can also use private nameserver for the convenience of its user. If the reseller switches to another hosting seller, his end clients will not have to change their nameservers.
Nameservers are an important and integral part of the Domain Name Systems, as they translate website name into an IP address to help visitors access your website. Hence it is an important component of the world wide web which is the world to billions of websites. Understanding Nameservers is important as a website manager to keep your website up and running.