Definitions

What is Name Server? – Definition, Functions, Examples, And More

Definition Name Server

Name servers help connect URLs to the IP address of web servers. Name servers are an essential part of the Domain Name System (DNS), which many people call an “Internet phone book.”

If you’re trying to point your domain name to your web hosting, chances are you’ve come across the term name server.

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How does Name Server work?

When a user enters a URL in their browser, like “kinsta.com,” Name Server connects that URL to the underlying web server that feeds the website with that domain name.

Think about how difficult it would be if you had to enter the real IP address of a web server every time you wanted to visit a website. I couldn’t remember if it was 159.89.229.118 or 159.89.229.119 – it would be a disaster!

Name servers play an essential role in connecting a URL to a server IP address in a much more human-friendly way.

Name servers look like any other domain name. When you look at the name servers of a website, you will typically see a minimum of two name servers (although you can use more).

Let us see an example of what they look like

  • ns-380.awsdns-47.com
  • Ns-1076.awsdns-06.org

Only instead of serving a website, those name servers help drive traffic.

To illustrate the role that name servers play in directing Internet traffic, let’s look at a real example.

Let’s say you want to visit the Kinsta home page. On the surface, this action is simple: type “kinsta.com” in the address bar of your browser, and you will see the Kinsta home page.

But behind the scenes, the high-level process goes something like this:

  • in the address bar type “kinsta.com.”
  • Your browser sends a request to the name servers of that domain
  • The name servers respond with the IP address of the website server.
  • Your browser requests the content of the website from that IP address
  • Your browser retrieves the content and displays it in your browser.

Name Servers vs. DNS records

In the example above, we omitted a point for simplicity:

DNS records

DNS records are those that contain the actual information that other browsers or services need to interact with, such as the IP address of your server.

Name servers, on the other hand, help store and organize those individual DNS records.

Previously, we referred to DNS as the Internet phone book. But a more specific analogy would be that:

Name servers are the physical phone book itself.

DNS records are the individual entries in the phone book.

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Kamran Sharief

I write about technology, marketing and digital tips. In the past I've worked with Field Engineer, Marcom Arabia and Become.com. You can reach me at kamransharief@gmail.com

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Kamran Sharief

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