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What Is a Nameserver?

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If you’re trying to point your domain name to your web hosting, you’ve probably come across the term nameserver. So, what is a nameserver? Try a free demo

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

In this article, we’ll go deeper into the topic of what nameservers are, how they work, and how you can use them to manage your site’s domain name and other parts of your site:

What Is a Nameserver? Explained in More Detail

When a user enters a URL in their browser, like “kinsta.com, there needs to be some way to connect that URL with the underlying web server that powers the website at that domain name.


Think how difficult it would be if you had to enter the actual IP address of a web server every time you wanted to visit a website. You wouldn’t be able to remember whether it was 159.89.229.118 or 159.89.229.119 — it would be a mess!


Nameservers play an important role in connecting a URL with a server IP address in a much more human-friendly way.


Nameservers look like any other domain name. When you look at a website’s nameservers, you’ll typically see a minimum of two nameservers (though you can use more). Here’s an example of what they look like:

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

Only instead of serving up a website, those nameservers help direct traffic.


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


Let’s say you want to visit the Kinsta homepage. On the surface, this action is simple: you type “kinsta.com” into your browser’s address bar and you see the Kinsta homepage. Easy, right?


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

  • You type “kinsta.com” into the address bar and hit enter
  • Your browser sends a request to that domain’s nameservers
  • The nameservers respond back with the IP address of the website’s server
  • Your browser requests the website content from that IP address
  • Your browser retrieves the content and renders it in your browser

Nameservers vs DNS Records

In the example above, we left out one point for simplicity:
DNS records.
DNS records are what contain the actual information that other browsers or services need to interact with, like your server’s IP address.
Nameservers, on the other hand, help store and organize those individual DNS records.
Earlier, we referred to DNS as the phone book of the Internet. But a more specific analogy would be that:

  • Nameservers are the physical phone book itself.
  • DNS records are the individual entries in the phone book.

If you wanted to find someone’s phone number (back when phone books existed!), you’d first grab the phone book itself. Then, you’d open the phone book and go through the entries to find the specific information that you need.


Armed with that knowledge, let’s look at a fuller sequence of what happens when you visit a website:

  • You type “kinsta.com” into the address bar and hit enter
  • Your browser uses DNS to retrieve the domain’s nameservers
  • Your browser asks for the A record that contains the IP address of the web server (a specific DNS record)
  • The nameservers provide the IP address from the A record
  • Your browser requests the website content from that IP address
  • Your browser retrieves the content and renders it in your browser

How to Use Nameservers in the Real World

In the real world, you’ll use nameservers and DNS records primarily to point your domain name towards your hosting. You also might use the DNS records supplied by your nameservers in other ways, like setting up your email account with MX records or verifying your domain name with Google Search Console.

Where Are Your Domain’s Nameservers Located?

The answer to this question is that “it depends”.


When you register your domain name through a domain registrar, your domain is usually pointed towards your domain registrar’s nameservers at first. Your domain registrar is also where you can edit your domain’s nameservers.
If you wanted to, you could leave your nameservers at your domain registrar and just edit the DNS records to point your domain name towards your web hosting.


However, many web hosts recommend that you change your domain’s nameservers to nameservers provided by the host. For example, here at Kinsta, we provide premium nameservers powered by Amazon Route 53 that you can use (though you don’t have to):

To change your nameservers, you’ll need to use the interface at the domain registrar where you purchased your domain name.

Summary

Nameservers play an essential role in directing traffic on the Internet by helping to connect your domain name with the IP address of your web server.


To do this, they help web browsers and other services access your domain’s DNS records.


You can edit your domain’s nameservers at the domain registrar where you purchased your domain name. Then, you’ll manage your individual DNS records at the nameserver “service” that you’re using. For example, the Kinsta dashboard if you’re using Kinsta’s nameservers or the Cloudflare dashboard if you’re using Cloudflare.


Finally, if you want to change your domain’s nameservers to use Kinsta’s nameservers, you can follow the steps in this help article.

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  • Optimization with our built-in Application Performance Monitoring.

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Content Management System

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What Is a Content Management System (CMS)?

A content management system, often abbreviated as CMS, is software that helps users create, manage, and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge.

In simpler language, a content management system is a tool that helps you build a website without needing to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to code at all).

Instead of building your own system for creating web pages, storing images, and other functions, the content management system handles all that basic infrastructure stuff for you so that you can focus on more forward-facing parts of your website.

Beyond websites, you can also find content management systems for other functions – like document management.

How Does a Content Management System Work?

To give you an idea of how a content management system works, we’re going to take a whirlwind tour of the WordPress interface (WordPress is a good example of a content management system).


Let’s start with creating a piece of content. Without a content management system, you’d need to write a static HTML file and upload it to your server (sounds complicated, right?).

With a content management system like WordPress, you can just write your content in an interface that looks a good bit like Microsoft Word:

That’s a lot simpler, right? Similarly, to upload and manage media, like images, you can just browse the media library instead of needing to actually interact with your web server directly:

The content management system isn’t just a backend management interface, though. It also makes all of the content that you create show up for your visitors exactly like you want it to.

What Makes up a Content Management System?

On a more technical level, a content management system is made up of two core parts:

  • A content management application (CMA) – this is the part that allows you to actually add and manage content on your site (like you saw above).
  • A content delivery application (CDA) – this is the backend, behind-the-scenes process that takes the content you input in the CMA, stores it properly, and makes it visible to your visitors.

Together, the two systems make it easy to maintain your website.

What Are Examples of Popular Content Management Systems?

WordPress, which we showed you above, is the best example of a popular content management system. While there are certainly other content management systems in existence, WordPress maintains over a 40.0% market share on websites with a known content management system.

Note that when we mention “WordPress”, we’re not talking about WordPress.com. Instead, we’re focused on WordPress.org, which is the website where the actual open-source WordPress content management system is stored. Beyond the self-hosted WordPress software, other popular content management systems include:wordpress

  • Joomla
  • Drupal
  • Magento (for eCommerce stores)
  • Squarespace
  • Wix
  • TYPO3

There are also lots of other less well-known content management systems that target themselves to large enterprises (with an expensive price point to match).

What Kinds of Websites Can You Build with Those Content Management Systems?

Most content management systems are pretty flexible nowadays. While there are some that focus on a specific use – like Magento and eCommerce – most of the popular content management systems can be used to create essentially any type of website.

  • Static websites
  • Blogs eCommerce
  • stores
  • Forums
  • Social networks
  • Online courses
  • Membership sites
  • Portfolios Etc.

What Is the Best CMS Platform?

This is a little bit like asking, “what is the best flavor of ice cream?”.


Sure, everyone’s got their answer, but it’s difficult to come up with a factual argument for one content management system being the best in 100% of situations.


What we can do, though, is return to the numbers and make a suggestion that there’s a reason WordPress has such a dominant share of the content management system market:


For most types of websites, it provides the most user-friendly, flexible solution. It’s not always the best option, but it is the best option most of the time.


For a deeper comparison of some of the popular content management systems, you can view our posts on:

WordPress vs Drupal

WordPress vs Squarespace

How to Build a Website with a Content Management System

Want to build your own website with a content management system? If so, the general process looks something like this:

  • Purchase web hosting and a domain name
  • Install your content management system of choice on your web server Configure the content management system to dictate how your site looks and functions
  • Start writing content using the content management system’s interface

It’s actually surprisingly simple. And hosts like Kinsta can even help install the content management system for you (WordPress, in this case), so you can jump straight into building your site without any technical setup.

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What Is WordPress?

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What is WordPress? At its core, WordPress is the simplest, most popular way to create your own website or blog. In fact, WordPress powers over 40.0% of all the websites on the Internet. Yes – more than one in four websites that you visit are likely powered by WordPress.

On a slightly more technical level, WordPress is an open-source content management system licensed under GPLv2, which means that anyone can use or modify the WordPress software for free. A content management system is basically a tool that makes it easy to manage important aspects of your website – like content – without needing to know anything about programming.
The end result is that WordPress makes building a website accessible to anyone – even people who aren’t developers.


What Kinds Of Websites Can WordPress Make?

Many years ago, WordPress was primarily a tool to create a blog, rather than more traditional websites. That hasn’t been true for a long time, though. Nowadays, thanks to changes to the core code, as well as WordPress’ massive ecosystem of plugins and themes, you can create any type of website with WordPress.

For example, not only does WordPress power a huge number of business sites and blogs, but it’s also the most popular way to create an eCommerce store as well! With WordPress, you can create:

  • Business websites
  • eCommerce stores
  • Blogs
  • Portfolios
  • Resumes
  • Forums
  • Social networks
  • Membership sites
  • pretty much anything else you can dream up.

Here’s how to install a WordPress theme
What’s The Difference Between WordPress.org and WordPress.com?

WordPress.com is a for-profit, paid service that is powered by the WordPress.org software. It’s simple to use, but you lose much of the flexibility of the self-hosted WordPress.

All you need to do to get started with self-hosted WordPress is purchase web hosting and a domain name.

Who Made WordPress And How Long Has It Been Around?

WordPress was created as a standalone project all the way back in 2003, originating as an offshoot of a previous project called b2/catalog.

WordPress is open-source software, so nowadays it’s made by a huge community of contributors. But if we were to trace WordPress’ origins back to its roots, its original creation was a collaboration between Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little.

Since then, Matt Mullenweg has largely become the face of WordPress. And he’s also the founder of Automattic, which is the company behind the for-profit WordPress.com service.

The history of WordPress between its founding as a blog platform back in 2003 and today is a long one…

But suffice it to say, WordPress has pushed forward and, thanks to its contributors and huge community, developed into the most popular solution to create any type of website.

 
Who Uses WordPress

WordPress is used by individuals, big businesses, and everyone in between! On an immediate note, we use WordPress! So the very site that you’re looking at right now is powered by WordPress. Lots of other well-known entities use WordPress as well. Here are some of our favorite examples:


Can I Install WordPress On My Personal Computer?

Absolutely! There are several good reasons why you might want to install WordPress on a local computer. You are building a new site from scratch, install a new theme or plugin or you just want a safe space to experiment with your existing website, without fear of breaking it. In this case, we recommend a free tool called DevKinsta that allows you to install WordPress on your Mac or PC.


WordPress Is Flexible

We’ve touched on this already, but WordPress is great because it lets you create pretty much any type of website. Better yet, your website can also evolve with you. Want to add a forum to your existing WordPress site? No problem – just install the bbPress plugin! Want to add a social network? No worries! Just use the BuddyPress plugin. You’re never locked into a specific set of functions – you can always adapt and evolve.


So What Is WordPress? It’s The Best Way To Build A Website

WordPress is the most popular way to build a website for a reason. If you want to build any type of website, from a blog to an eCommerce store, WordPress is a great option. Just remember that self-hosted WordPress.org and WordPress.com are not the same things. And, in most situations, self-hosted WordPress.org is what you want to build a website.

Self-hosted WordPress.org gives you more ownership as well as access to all the perks and benefits of the WordPress community.