Domain Name Registrars

Domain Name Registrars, like GoDaddy or Network Solutions, have two main roles:

  1. It's where you find, purchase, and maintain your domain name. 
  2. Stores the a) location of your Web host on the Internet, and b) possibly where your email is hosted. 

Let's look at #2. When you first purchase your domain name your registrar stores these locations, or addresses, on their name servers. They are your "authoritative name server," or the primary keeper of this information. 

Name servers = card catalogs

Think of a name server like card catalog in a library. If you are looking for the title Moby Dick the card catalog will just give you a number for the location of the book. Likewise, your registrar has a "card" with your domain name and any addresses for mail for website.

There are lots of names servers 

There are other name servers throughout the Internet—probably even one at your ISP (Internet Service Provider), like AT&T or Comcast. Chances are they will also have a "card" for your domain name and website address. The question is, how did they get it?

Name servers at work

Well, your authoritative name server, usually where your domain name is registered, is responsible for propagating your "card" to all the other name servers around the Internet. That way, when your browser sends out a request for the location of a website you are looking for, it doesn't have to go all the way back to your authoritative name server. It may just find it locally at your ISP, saving time. 

Note: It is possible, but advisable only if you know what you are doing, to assign the role of authoritative name server to someone other than your registrar, but they will then be responsible for the location of your website, etc., and propagating it to all the other name servers.

Related: Your domain name registrar is not your Web host and How the Web works


Author: Brad Cathey

Tags: domain, name, registrars