Say My Name: All You Need to Know About Nameservers

 

Nameserver Lookup

Have you been wondering what nameservers are, and what they're used for? Nameservers are an integral part of the Internet, and form the crucial building blocks of website domain addressing and routing. The following provides an overview of nameservers, as well as some important information you'll need to know, including performing a nameserver lookup, even if you will not be managing everthing directly.

Nameserver Basics

In general, your website can be accessed by either typing its domain name or IP address into a browser. An IP address is the numeric value associated with your website (such as 192.168.xxx.xxx). It is what other servers use to identify and locate your website, though most users use the domain name—usually typed directly into a browser—as the primary way to access the site. The nameserver is therefore what translates the numeric IP address into the more user-friendly domain name format.

Without a nameserver, Internet users would have to remember the numeric IP address of every website they wanted to visit. Instead, using a nameserver makes traveling between websites quick and easy. To read more about Web hosting services—including those that handle nameservers—visit this page.

Nameservers and DNS

Nameservers work in conjunction with the Internet's domain name systems, or DNS for short. In a nutshell, DNS is the grand database of domain names-to-IP address mappings— basically an Internet phone book. DNS is managed by international governing authorities, as opposed to the nameservers managed by your Web hosting provider. The latter manage and route traffic to sites hosted within the hosting provider's network, and pass along addresses for other sites to DNS for resolution.

Colorful blocks of domain name extensions

Nameservers and Your Website

For the most part, as a standard Web hosting customer, you won’t be managing nameservers. The provider will usually handle nameserver configuration automatically on the back end when you purchase your domain as a part of a hosting package. In certain cases, however, you will need to manually configure and manage your nameserver's settings in order to customize the way traffic is routed to your site. For example, setting up a subdomain (such as public.mywebsite.com) will require manual configuration of your nameserver settings. Additionally, in some cases, your nameservers will be managed by a different provider than your Web host. In these instances, manual nameserver configuration is also necessary.

How to Check Nameservers and Gain DNS Information

There are several ways to find out extensive information regarding your nameserver. The “Whois” domain name query and response protocol is the primary mechanism for providing domain information, and many websites allow you to type in a domain name and see its associated IP addresses and other critical information. Alternatively, if you're more technically savvy, typing in “whois domainXYZ.com” in your computer's command prompt (replacing “domainXYZ.com” with your domain) will give extended information regarding your domain name. For example, if you do a nameserver check via this method, you might see the following:

Domain Name: domainXYZ.com
Registrar: ENOM, INC.
Whois Server: whois.enom.com
Referral URL: <a href=”http://www.enom.com”>http://www.enom.com</a>​
Name Server: NS1.YOURWEBHOST.COM
Name Server: NS2.YOURWEBHOST.COM
Name Server: NS3.YOURWEBHOST.COM
Status: ok

In short, a nameserver handles queries regarding the location of a domain name and website, and is analogous to a phone book for Internet addresses. It helps to be familiar with nameservers, as you may come across instances where manual configuration or modification of nameserver information is necessary.

For more information about nameserver hosting providers, please check out our top Web hosting company reviews.

 

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