Nameservers are a small, but important part of your web service. They serve information similar to that of a phonebook — if you know the name of a restaurant that you haven’t been to before, a phonebook can tell you its exact address. Likewise, nameservers translate a domain name into a specific IP address so that Internet users do not have to remember 32 bit IPv4 addresses such as 18.104.22.168 or 128 bit IPv6 addresses that are far longer. They instead allow us to recall and input the familiar .com domain names for all of our favorite websites.
Every domain name needs to be listed on a name server somewhere. There are three kinds of name servers to choose from: name servers run by your web host, third-party name servers (typically, people use the name servers run by their domain registrar if they have third-party name servers), and private name servers you run on your hosted server. Which one should you choose?
Webhost Name Servers
Your webhost’s name servers are owned and operated by your webhost. ServInt, like all web hosts, has its own nameservers. They will appear something like this:
There are advantages and disadvantages to using your host’s nameservers. At ServInt, the main advantage is that our MST staff can perform DNS-related tasks for you, which can simplify a few steps when you’re setting up a new site and are unfamiliar with DNS.
This is also the main drawback. If you wish to use ServInt’s name servers you will need to submit a support ticket every time you need to make a DNS entry or modification. Additionally, should you ever move to another host, you will no longer be allowed to use these name servers.
We recommend ServInt name servers only for our clients that wish to host a few domains and do not anticipate the need for regular DNS additions or changes.
Third-Party Name Servers
Third-party name servers are owned by the registrar where you purchased your domain name (such as GoDaddy.com, Register.com, or Name.com). Here is an example from GoDaddy:
Your registrar assigns these nameservers by default. These name servers reside on your registrar’s network and you are welcome to continue using them. The advantage is you can leave your domain with the name servers that have already been set; however, if you need to make any DNS additions or modifications, you will need to use whatever interface your registrar provides. This typically requires a thorough understanding of how DNS works.
The other main drawback to registrar name servers for our customers is that while ServInt will always be here to offer advice and answer questions, we can neither troubleshoot nor investigate technical problems or malfunctions that exist on the registrar’s website.
Private name servers are hosted on the server you purchased from your webhost. An example would be:
At ServInt, we primarily recommend private name servers for our customers for a variety of reasons:
- The WHM control panel will make the vast majority of DNS entries for you automatically and also provides an interface for custom or non-standard DNS entries. For example, if you create a subdomain in your domain’s cPanel account, the DNS entry for the subdomain is automatically added to the domain’s DNS zone. ServInt MST staff will still provide full support for your name servers.
- If you should ever move to another host, you can take your private name servers with you.
- Additionally, running your own name servers is a great way to become familiar with how DNS works with the knowledge that ServInt is always there to offer advice.
Find answers to specific nameserver FAQs.
In the end, the type of name server you choose will be dictated by your particular needs. And as always, ServInt’s MST are here for our customers to help you make the best choice.
Photo by Ryan Godfrey