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, and vice versa”.

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