What are NS Records and Why Are They Important to DNS?

Domain Name System (DNS) records are crucial instructions that help servers handle requests from web clients. There are different types of DNS records; many of which we’ve discussed in our previous blog posts. 

In this article, we’ll introduce you to DNS NS records or Name Server records and why they’re essential to DNS and the functioning of your website or web application. So, what is an NS record?

What is a DNS NS record?

The DNS NS record stands for Domain Name System Name Server record. It holds information that determines which server is authoritative to a particular domain or DNS zone. 

When you enter a website address into your browser, a DNS query is launched to locate the IP address and take you to that website. The name server record tells your server where to find the IP address associated with that domain. 

If your NS records are misconfigured, no one can find and load your website domain.

You can configure multiple NS records for your domain to serve as a redundancy or load balancing—known as primary and secondary name servers. When the primary server is unavailable, the secondary server can step in to respond to requests. 

The best way to create DNS service redundancy is to configure the primary and secondary NS records on different network segments. 

The NS record points to the nameserver holding all the DNS files and records belonging to a domain. The nameserver also contains other records like the A record, DNS MX record, TXT record, and SOA record

However, DNS NS records are restricted as they only provide the name of a domain’s nameserver and not the domain’s IP address. As such, a DNS A or AAAA record must exist in the DNS zone for each DNS server to ensure a successful DNS resolution. 

Another important aspect of an NS record is that you can use it to delegate subdomains of your primary domain to other DNS servers. For instance, you can delegate “blog.mywebsite.com” by creating a Name Server record for “blog.mywebsite.com” inside the “mywebsite.com” zone.

What is a Nameserver?

This type of Domain Name Server contains all DNS records for a specific domain, including AAAA records, DNS PTR records, and CNAME records. Nameservers play a vital inrouting web traffic on the internet. 

When you enter a website like EasyDMARC on your web browser, the browser performs a DNS lookup and directs your request to the appropriate server. 

The nameserver is part of the process, providing the names of the servers to be contacted.  Computers can’t understand domain names like EasyDMARC.com entered into your browser. Nameservers translate domain names into their corresponding IP addresses for easy routing. 

Most domains have multiple nameservers to enhance reliability. If one nameserver is down, DNS queries are directed to another one.

When to Update or Change your NS Records?

You may need to change or update your NS records for various reasons. First, changing your domain’s nameservers requires updating your NS records. Domain administrators should also update their NS records if they want to use different nameservers for their domain. 

For instance, you should update the NS record if you wish to route blog.mywebsite.com through ns2.mywebsite.com instead of ns1.mywebsite.com. 

Note that it might take several for your NS record updates to propagate throughout the DNS.

How to Create a DNS NS Record?

Creating a DNS NS record is simple. Log onto your DNS provider’s service portal and follow this, step-by-step guide on how to add an NS record in DNS

  • From your DNS portal, click on Manage > DNS > Zones.
  • In the ‘Zones’ section, hit the ‘Create button or tab.
  • Then click ‘Record,’ and select ‘NS record from the options.
  • On the ‘Create NS record page, input the following:
  • Name: Input the name for the NS record.
  • Zone: Choose a zone from the options available.
  • Name Server: Input the name for the nameserver.
  • Description: Write descriptive information about the NS record.
  • TTL: For the TTL for NS records, input a number and choose hours, minutes, and seconds from the options.
  • Tags: Hit the ‘Add button to attach keys to the values:
  • Key: Input a name for the key.
  • Value: Input a value for each key.
  • Hit the ‘Save button to keep your settings.

 These steps are mostly the same whether you’re using GoDaddy, Oracle, NS1, OpenDNS, etc.

How to Check the NS Record of a Domain

Checking your domain’s NS records is vital to confirm correct configuration. If you don’t configure your NS records properly, users won’t be able to reach your website. You can check your NS record using online tools like EasyDMARC’s DNS Records Lookup.

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Our online tool is easy to use. Input your domain name in the “Domain or IP” box provided. Check the NS button and click the “Lookup DNS” button to proceed—it’s that simple!

Alternatively, you can check domain NS records using your computer terminal with the command nslookup. This command works well on Windows, macOS, and Linux operating systems. To check NS records for a domain, type the following command in your terminal:

nslookup -type=NS hostens.com

Let’s Compare NS With Other Record Types

There are different types of DNS records, each performing specific functions. Let’s compare NS with other record types to understand such differences. 

NS Record vs. SOA Record

The SOA or Start of Authority record contains vital administrative information about a particular domain name. These include the administrator’s email address, the entry, and when the domain was last updated.

On the other hand, the NS record contains information about the authoritative server that holds information about the domain you’re looking for. 

NS Record vs. A Record

NS records determine which nameserver is authoritative for a particular domain. However, a DNS A record is quite different as it points the domain name to its corresponding IP address.

Summary

Congratulations, you now know all about NS records. They contain information about the server that’s authoritative for a specific domain. 

Without it, a DNS resolution request won’t be successful, and people will be unable to locate your website. As a result, domain administrators should properly configure NS records and other DNS record types to enhance their website’s performance, prevent DNS Spoofing, and ensure reliability.

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