What Is Authoritative Name Server DNS?


Heather Bennett

What Is Authoritative Name Server DNS?

An authoritative name server, also known as an authoritative DNS server or simply an NS server, is a type of Domain Name System (DNS) server that provides responses to DNS queries. It is considered the ultimate source of truth for a specific domain name’s DNS information.

How Does an Authoritative Name Server Work?

When a user types a domain name into their web browser or sends an email to a domain-based email address, their device sends a DNS query to a recursive resolver. The recursive resolver acts as an intermediary between the user’s device and the authoritative name server.

The recursive resolver receives the DNS query and begins the process of resolving the domain name into its corresponding IP address. It starts by contacting one of the root DNS servers, then moves on to the top-level domain (TLD) servers, and finally reaches the authoritative name server for the specific domain.

The authoritative name server holds all the necessary information about the domain, including its IP address and other associated records such as MX records for email routing or SPF records for email authentication.

Why Are Authoritative Name Servers Important?

Authoritative name servers play a critical role in ensuring that domain names are correctly resolved to their corresponding IP addresses. Without authoritative name servers, it would be impossible for users to access websites or send emails using domain-based email addresses.

By having control over their own authoritative name servers, domain owners can manage their DNS records and make changes whenever necessary. This allows them to control various aspects of their online presence, such as website hosting, email routing, subdomains, and more.

Different Types of Authoritative Name Servers

There are several types of authoritative name servers:

  • Primary authoritative name server: Also known as the master server, it is the main server that holds the original copy of a domain’s DNS records. Changes made to the DNS records are typically made on this server.
  • Secondary authoritative name server: Also known as slave servers, these servers obtain a copy of the DNS records from the primary authoritative name server and serve them to users.

    They can also act as backups in case the primary server fails.

  • Tertiary authoritative name server: These servers are additional backups that provide redundancy in case both the primary and secondary servers fail. They ensure that domain information remains available even under challenging circumstances.


An authoritative name server is an essential component of the DNS infrastructure. It acts as a reliable source of truth for a specific domain’s DNS information, ensuring that domain names are correctly resolved to their corresponding IP addresses. By understanding how authoritative name servers work, individuals and organizations can effectively manage their online presence and maintain a stable web environment.

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