What Are Nameservers?

I’ve had a few queries in the last couple of weeks about nameservers, or Domain Name Servers, or DNS. So I thought I’d explain, but not in the dictionary definition way, but in what it means to you.

– You buy a domain.
– You buy (or already have) web hosting.
– Now how does the domain know to go to your web host? i.e. when someone types in your domain, how does it know to go to your web host and not elsewhere?

Simple answer – DNS. You tell your domain to be associated with your host’s domain name servers so it points to the right place – your site.

OK, so a more official definition (thanks Wikipedia), and with a slightly different meaning, is a nameserver “… consists of a program or computer server that implements a name-service protocol. It will normally map (i.e. connect) a human-recognizable identifier of a host (for example, the domain name ‘en.wikipedia.org’) to its computer-recognizable identifier (such as the Internet Protocol (IP) address 145.97.39.155), and vice versa”.

So there you go. It joins your domain name and hosting together. Magic.

9 thoughts on “What Are Nameservers?”

  1. Great post, Joel, and thanks for the recommendation, Mark. I work for NameCheap so it’s always good to see more info on DNS out there. Just FYI, NameCheap offers free DNS hosting for any of your domains, even if they aren’t with us. We figure it just makes it easier for everyone. Here’s more info:
    http://www.namecheap.com/freedns/free-manage-dns.aspx

    Don’t mean to spam your blog. Just figured people reading this could use the information.

  2. Great post, Joel, and thanks for the recommendation, Mark. I work for NameCheap so it’s always good to see more info on DNS out there. Just FYI, NameCheap offers free DNS hosting for any of your domains, even if they aren’t with us. We figure it just makes it easier for everyone. Here’s more info:
    http://www.namecheap.com/freedns/free-manage-dns.aspx

    Don’t mean to spam your blog. Just figured people reading this could use the information.

  3. Hi Joel,

    Thanks for simplified information about domain name servers.

    It might be helpful if you mentioned a few of the DNS competitors out there for your visitor to think about.

    I happen to use NameCheap. I prefer them over Godaddy.

    Regards,

    Mark Hanson

  4. Hi Joel,

    Thanks for simplified information about domain name servers.

    It might be helpful if you mentioned a few of the DNS competitors out there for your visitor to think about.

    I happen to use NameCheap. I prefer them over Godaddy.

    Regards,

    Mark Hanson

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