Nameservers Explained

When you purchase your domain name, or a new web hosting package, you will be asked to provide two nameservers for this domain. What is a nameserver and what does it do? Is this something that you need to worry about?

First, in order for your domain to properly resolve, you must have the correct nameserver settings for your domain. If you do not have these settings correct, your website will not be accessible to someone who types in your URL.

A nameserver acts as a router. When someone types in a URL in their browser, the request is sent to the nameserver. The nameserver than routes the request to the appropriate IP address that is provided by your web hosting company.

At this point, the DNS zone takes over and routes the request to your account. Once this has been accomplished, your site will load in your visitor’s browser. The entire process does not take more than a few seconds, if everything is functioning properly.

When you set up a new account with a hosting company, you should receive your nameserver information in your welcome email. You may need to look through the entire email to make sure you find the correct information.

Once you have this information, you will need to log-in to the registrar’s site where you registered your domain. Most registrars are now offering the ability to handle this on your own, but if you do not have a way to log-in to change your domain information, you will need to contact your registrar to make sure that the nameserver information is updated.

After you have logged in, you should see a link to change your nameserver. When you load the page, you will see the default nameservers listed. These nameservers will normally point to a parked page. You will need to replace both the primary and secondary nameservers with the new information you were sent from your hosting company.

The process of updating the nameserver can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 72 hours, depending on the current status of your domain. You will know when the process is complete when your URL begins loading your new site.

You may also want to update the technical contact information for your domain while you are changing your nameservers. The technical contact information is normally where you will your new host’s information. If you prefer not to do this, you can always insert your own contact information in the provided area.

Most webmasters do not need to deal with nameservers frequently, unless they move their website around to different servers. However, it is helpful to know ahead of time how to take care of your domain so that you will be ready to make any necessary changes. This will avoid additional downtime during a server transfer or when you set up your new account.

Related Posts:
Managing Nameservers and IP Addresses
How to Create Your Own Nameserver
WHI’s Podcast for 07/17/2006
Got Web Host Obtains New Class C IP’s
Network Solutions Explained

Posted on 12/15/05 8:14 PM

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