In order to understand Nameservers we first need to understand how computers identify each other on the internet.
Basically they use a set of numbers in an address which is known as an IP Address (IP stands for Internet Protocol).
Nameservers are basically a way to allow humans to read the numbers that make up the IP address.
For example, it is much easier to remember pickaweb.co.uk than it is to remember 101.298.684.257 (that isn’t our IP by the way – just an example).
Also, you may also see Nameservers referred to as DNS and these are the same thing.
Why Are Nameservers Important?
Nameservers are important because they tell the internet where your website is physically hosted. They specify the exact IP address of the server providing your service.
When you enter a domain name into your browser the internet searches for the Nameservers. It can then contact the server and request the files from the website you have entered into your browser.
What Do Nameservers Look Like?
Usually you will have two Nameservers associated with your web hosting service. They will be something like this:
Who Gives Me My Nameservers?
When you order a hosting service your hosting company will tell you the nameservers you need to use.
If you are in any doubt just contact your hosting support and they will quickly advise you.
How Do I Check My Nameservers?
You can check your nameservers on the publically available Whois database. Just enter your domain name and you will see information about your domain including the Nameservers.
If you have a UK domain name you can check this via the Nominet WHOIS at http://www.nominet.uk/whois/
For Top Level Domains (like .com, .net, etc.) you can use the ICAN WHOIS at https://whois.icann.org/en
How Do I Update My Nameservers?
You can update your nameservers by logging into your domain management area. WIth Pickaweb this is located inside your Client Area.
If your domain name is registered with another company you should contact them to ask them where to make the changes.
What Happens When I Update My Nameservers?
When you update your Nameservers your domain name will start to point to the server that the Nameservers identify. However this is not an instant process. This process can take anywhere between 12 to 48 hours to complete and is called ‘Propagation’.
During this period there may be some anomalous behaviour, particularly relating to email delivery. For this reason we recommend making Nameserver changes at night or ideally over the weekend if that is a quiet period for you or your business.