What Is the Difference Between Nameserver and DNS Server?


Larry Thompson

What Is the Difference Between Nameserver and DNS Server?

When it comes to managing and resolving domain names, two terms that often come up are “nameserver” and “DNS server.” While these terms are related to each other, they have distinct roles in the domain name system. In this article, we will delve into the differences between nameservers and DNS servers.


A nameserver is a specialized server that is responsible for translating domain names into IP addresses. It acts as a directory service for the internet, helping users reach their intended online destinations.

How does a nameserver work?

When you type a domain name into your web browser, such as www.example.com, your computer contacts a nameserver to find out the IP address associated with that domain. The nameserver looks up its database of domain names and returns the corresponding IP address. This enables your browser to establish a connection with the web server hosting the website you want to visit.

Types of Nameservers

There are two main types of nameservers:

  • Authoritative Nameservers: These are the primary sources of information for a particular domain. They store all the necessary records (such as A records, MX records, etc.) required to resolve domain names into IP addresses.

    When someone requests information about a specific domain, authoritative nameservers provide accurate answers directly from their own database.

  • Recursive Nameservers: Also known as caching resolvers, recursive nameservers act as intermediaries between client devices (like your computer) and authoritative nameservers. They cache previously resolved queries for a specified period of time so that subsequent requests can be answered more quickly. Recursive nameservers are typically provided by internet service providers (ISPs) or third-party DNS providers.

DNS Server

DNS, which stands for Domain Name System, is a distributed database that contains information about domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. It is a crucial component of the internet infrastructure, facilitating the translation of human-readable domain names into machine-readable IP addresses.

What does a DNS server do?

A DNS server is responsible for storing and managing domain name records. These records include various types of resource records (RRs), such as A records (mapping domain names to IPv4 addresses), AAAA records (mapping to IPv6 addresses), MX records (identifying mail servers), and more.

Relationship between Nameservers and DNS Servers

Nameservers are a subset of DNS servers. They are specialized servers that handle queries related to a specific domain or set of domains. While all nameservers are DNS servers, not all DNS servers act as nameservers.


In summary, the difference between a nameserver and a DNS server lies in their roles within the domain name system. Nameservers are responsible for translating domain names into IP addresses, while DNS servers store and manage domain name records. Understanding these distinctions can help you navigate the complexities of managing your own domains or troubleshooting issues related to internet connectivity.

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