How domain names work

How domain names work

Summary

This guide provides a basic outline on how domain names work. It will equip you with enough information to manage your own domain name.

How do domain names work?

When you type in the name of a website your computers browser (the program you use to view the internet) contacts the main computer that controls all domain names. This main control system is called the Domain Name System or DNS .

Your computer asks the DNS where the website you want is located on the internet. The DNS replies and directs you straight to the site. All these processes take a fraction of a second, so the user doesn't realise its happening.

So how does the DNS know where your website is?

Every Domain name is allocated what is called a Nameserver. A Nameserver is simply the address of the computer (or server) that your website sits on. There are usually two addresses called Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2.  The second nameserver simply acts as a backup to the first.

For example the Nameservers for Reason8.com are:

Nameserver 1:          ns.reason8.com
Nameserver 2 :         ns1.reason8.com

When you give your domain name a nameserver it is very much like pointing a big arrow from the name to your website. Which is why we talk about Pointing your domain name.

Although the very process is simple after you modify the nameservers it can take up to 24 hours before any changes are seen. This is because all changes have to be acknowledged and recorded in a number of places on the internet.

Can I have my email with one company and my website with another?

The simple answer is yes. A nameserver can be split into two parts, the 'A record' and the 'MX record'.

The A record controls  your website and the MX record controls your email. When you change the nameserver you automatically change them both.

If you already receive an email service from a third party, we recommend you stay with them unless you are unhappy. This is because when you change your email provider all of your email settings will change. You will need to reset any other programs or devices you use to retrieve your email, such as Outlook or your mobile phone.  While these changes are being made you will lose any emails sent.

Click here for more About pointing your domain name to Reason8

What if I want to change the company my name is registered with?

If you are unhappy with the company you registered your domain name with it is possible to move it to a new provider. How you go about moving the name will depend on the names ending such as whether it is a .com or .co.uk etc. For more information on domain name endings please see our guide Changing your domain registration company

 

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