Nameservers vs. DNS: Definition, How it Works, and Why They Matter
If you’ve recently published a website, you probably have heard of the term, nameserver. To understand how it works, it’s best to review how the internet operates first.
An IP address is a unique string of numbers that identifies each computer over the internet. It uses a global networking protocol, known as TCP (Transmission Control Protocol)/ IP (Internet Protocol), to communicate between computers.
Computing devices “read” IP addresses and present it to your screen. The only problem with IP addresses is that they’re almost impossible to memorize. Imagine having to remember of thousands of number combinations when browsing the internet!
Without nameservers, it would be impossible to take note of so many IP addresses. Nameservers allow browsers, like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome, to direct users to the website they type on an address bar.
Now, that’s just an overview. In this article, we’ll delve deeper into nameservers, DNS, and their key differences.
Are Nameservers the Same as DNS?
Let’s say you want to visit our website, bigrock.in. Instead of having to type a long string of numbers, you simply type bigrock.in on your browser and it automatically directs you to the web page.
So this brings us back to the question: Are nameservers and DNS the same thing?
The answer is that they go hand in hand. Nameservers are a part of an online database called the Domain Name System or DNS.
DNS translates domains into machine-readable IP addresses. Think of it as a massive phone directory containing tens upon thousands of IP addresses.
Every domain has its unique DNS records, which include the nameservers. These records are generated when you register your domain with a hosting provider or domain registrar. Therefore, your nameserver points your domain name to your host’s or registrar’s IP address.
To complete this process, the DNS Server maintains Resource Records (Records) in a Zone File that includes the domain name and IP address mappings for the devices in that Zone.
Let’s understand the common types of records in brief:
The “A” in A Record stands for address. It is generally used to map a domain (or subdomain) to an IP address.
The Canonical Name Record directs a domain to another domain instead of an IP address. It is used when a website (such as myblog.com) has various subdomains, like donations.myblog.com and shop.myblog.com.
A Mail Exchange (MX) Record, as the name implies, is for directing emails to the address registered on your domain. It’s important to ensure that MX records are pointing to the correct mail server. Otherwise, your messages won’t be delivered to your email address.
If you’re planning to switch hosting companies, also remember to back up your emails to avoid losing any valuable data.
A Nameserver Record – or NS Record – indicates which DNS server is authoritative of that domain. When a user searches for your IP address via a DNS lookup, they can locate it from an NS record.
You also use your Nameserver Record to change your nameservers and point them to your new hosting company.
TXT (Text) Record
Your TXT Record allows you to add text to your DNS records. The TXT Record was initially intended for human notes, including site development details and descriptions.
This record can help you protect your website against spam. For example, you can use it to authenticate your domain by adding a Google Site Verification record. It is common to have multiple TXT Records for a single website.
Summarising the Key Differences Between Nameserver and DNS
DNS (Domain Name System) translates domain names into unique IP addresses. It is a standard set of protocols that allows computers to communicate via the internet.
Whereas nameservers are part of the DNS that stores your domain information and makes it accessible on the internet.
How Do You Use Nameservers and DNS Records?
Learning how to access your DNS records is particularly helpful when transitioning to a new host. In the following section, you’ll learn how to locate and manage your DNS records.
How to Locate and Update Your Default Nameserver
Note that we’ll be talking about locating your nameserver with BigRock. The steps to find your nameserver may vary per hosting company.
Start by logging into your hosting account:
- Login to your Control Panel.
- Search for the domain you registered and navigate to the Order Information view.
- Click on Name Server Details.
You’ve officially located your nameserver!
Otherwise, if you aren’t using a domain privacy service, you can use the WHOIS lookup to obtain the nameservers of any website.
To update your nameserver with BigRock, simply click on Update Name Servers. Note that any updates can take somewhere between 24 to 48 hours to propagate. The waiting time is not controlled by any ISP or hosting company.
Migrate your website or apps to a new host with ease
People switch web hosts for a myriad of reasons. You could be dissatisfied with their service or found a more affordable hosting provider.
Understanding how DNS records and nameservers work can help you smoothly transition to a new hosting provider. It helps you keep track of your data and prevents any website or email downtime.
At BigRock, we support you throughout the transition, including domain transfers. You don’t need to be a tech expert to switch to us. We’ll help you manage your domains and DNS records from your web hosting account.
Switching to BigRock also means you’ll access our key features including domain theft protection, an intuitive control panel, and more. Visit BigRock today to learn more.