What Does DNS Mean and Why Would You Care?

Confused womanDNS stands for Domain Name Server – and, normally, you wouldn’t care.

Unless, that is, you wanted to buy an already-registered domain from someone, or move your website to a new hosting provider.

But let’s start from the top:

Domain names and website hosting are two different services although, in many cases, they are provided by the same company.

The domain name is your website’s address on the internet – abledragonmarketing.com – and website hosting is the service of storing your website files on a server so that the site can be displayed when someone visits it.

Because they are different services they can be provided by different companies. Therefore, each domain has to have a Domain Name Server associated with it, so the Internet knows where to send people who want to view your website.

If you buy your hosting and domain from the same company this would all be transparent to you – you would get an annual invoice from the company that would include both your hosting fee and your domain registration/renewal fee.

But if you move your hosting to a new company your website will be sitting on a different server, possibly even in a different country. Your domain, though, will remain with the original company unless you specifically arrange to move that as well.

Again, hosting and domain names are two different services

So this is where you need to know about DNS because, if you move to a new hosting provider, you will need to change the DNS associated with your domain so that visitors are routed to the new server.

In this situation you will now have two accounts to manage:

  1. Your original hosting account, although that will only be to manage your domain
  2. Your new hosting account – which will only be to manage your hosting.

The other common situation in which you need to know about DNS is where you buy a currently registered domain from someone.

During this process you will be provided with the login details to enable you to manage your new domain. When the process is complete, you will need to change the DNS of the domain you just bought so that visitors are routed to the server where your website is hosted.

How do I change my DNS?

If you need to change your DNS then first get the DNS details from your new hosting provider – there will be 2 items and they will look something like this: NS1234.hosting-provider.com and NS1235.hosting-provider.com (the NS numbers are usually sequential).

Next, log in to your account with the company from which you got your domain, look for the link to manage DNS (or Name Servers) and replace the current DNS details with your new ones.

Click save and you’re done.

Remember: DNS changes are not instant. Most companies will tell you that they can take up to 48 hours to propagate across the internet but, in my experience, the changes have always been effective within an hour or so.

Questions? Get in touch so we can help to clarify things – please:


Martin Malden

About the author: Martin Malden owns Abledragon, a WordPress agency that was established in 2009. Today it serves customers in Hong Kong, Australia and the UK. Abledragon websites are built for today’s Internet, with the mobile user in mind, and are known for security and speed. Successful Abledragon projects.