What Is a Nameserver?

When a user enters a URL in their browser, like “fayitgm.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 or — 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 fayitgm homepage. On the surface, this action is simple: you type “fayitgm.com” into your browser’s address bar and you see the fayitgm homepage. Easy, right?

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


  • You type “fayitgm.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

In order to visit a website you must first access a Domain Name Server. If there’s an issue with In the the decentralized naming systems responsible for turning hostnames into IP addresses, you might experience a message such as “DNS server not responding”.

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