When you register a new domain name, the domain name is given default nameserver information by the domain company you register the domain with or by the hosting company who you bought the domain through. A nameserver is shorthand for domain nameserver. Every domain on the internet, in the ICANN registry, has attributes called nameservers. The nameservers information is, in some sense, a map or directions that tells the internet:
“Go to this domain name server and they’ll be able to tell you where to go to find my internet files…”
When you establish an internet account with a hosting company to have them host a domain for you, what is really happening on their servers is they set up a directory on their server called “yourdomain.com”. In order for your domain to actually work, however, you have to set the nameserver information to their nameserver information which, in turn, points browsers to your directory once they reach the nameserver on their end
Let’s run through a scenario:
1. I purchase a web hosting account through Lunar Pages.
2. I already own the domain solideogloria.com so I tell them I want to host the domain name solideogloria.com on their servers.
3. They build a directory on their servers for my account and load, in their namservers, a “pointer” that says whenever anybody comes looking here for solideogloria.com point them to that account directory.
4. During signup, they tell me “Rich, our nameservers are ns1.lunarpages.com and ns2.lunarpages.com.”
5. I now have to go into my domain control panel at ICANNwholesale and set my nameserver information for the domain. Initially they are pointed at park at the parked nameservers for ICANNwholesale but I have to set them to point to Globat’s nameservers.
6. I unlock my domain, set the nameserver information for the domain and, Voila!, the internet now knows to look to Globat every time my domain name is typed.
Typically, each hosting company has two nameservers. This is for redundancy, if one nameserver is down, the other will likely be up to answer nameserver requests.
Keep in mind when you buy a domain name as part of your web hosting package, because many packages offer free domains or you can purchase one for a nominal fee, the web hosting company takes care of setting your nameserver information for you.
Some might think knowing this information is pointlessly detailed and nitnoid but let me assure you that understanding how to control your domain is most vital. If you ever want to switch hosting companies, knowing how to manage your domain will help you if you find a better hosting package elsewhere. Also, knowing this information will give you the flexibility to transfer your domain to different domain registrars because, why pay $35 a year for a domain when you can pay only $7.85 for the same or better features?
There are some great free tutorials that ICANNwholesale makes available for its users. While the “managing your domain” articles are somewhat geared toward their interface, every domain registration entity has the same basic controls even if they look a bit different on the control panel.