Registering a domain name is just the first step in creating an online presence for your business, organization, or website.
To reach your potential customers more easily and keep your domain name after you update it, you might also consider registering your domain with the corresponding Internet suffixes.
The two most common are .com and .net. But what does that have to do with updating your name servers?
Let’s take a look at why this can be risky for your domain name. If you register your domain name with a registrar, that means you’ll need their help to update the name servers associated with it if you change ISPs or hosting services.
It’s important to understand what that entails before making these arrangements. A registrar handles registration with a third-party service called a registry. In our case, that would be either ICANN, Verisign or Enom.
These registries keep track of all registered domains using their respective suffixes – but only as long as they remain with that registrar.
If you switch to another one, or even register directly with a registry instead of through a third party like we mentioned above, this will impact how easily and quickly you can update your name servers going forward.
What Are Name Servers?
Name servers are responsible for translating human-readable website and domain names into the numerical IP addresses that computers can understand.
If your customers want to visit your website, a DNS (Domain Name System) server will translate their request into an IP address.
This allows computers to find your website even if they don’t know the exact domain name.
If you change the name servers associated with your domain name, you’ll need to tell the authoritative name server to update their records or else they will not be able to find your site.
Why Can It Be Risky to Update Your Name Servers?
Taking care to make sure this process goes smoothly can help prevent downtime for your site.
When you first register your domain name and configure the name servers, you’ll want to make a note of this information.
You should also log into your account with both your current hosting provider and current registrar and keep a backup of all relevant login information, just in case something goes wrong or you switch providers or registrars.
If you update the name servers without taking these precautions, you’ll risk having your website go offline.
Your customers will be unable to reach your website if the new DNS servers don’t have the correct records. And if you don’t update the records, potential customers won’t be able to find your site either, even after the name server update is complete.
Potential Problems When Updating Name Servers
The New Servers Are Not Active:
The most common name server updating problem you may encounter is if the new name servers are not active.
When you update your domain name’s name servers, you’ll want the new name servers to activate immediately – not wait days or even weeks like the old ones.
If the new name servers are not active when you try to update your domain, you’ll face an unnecessary delay in getting your site back online.
DNS Records Are Incorrect:
Another common name server updating problem is when the new DNS records are incorrect.
This might sound similar to the previous example in that the new name servers aren’t active, but it is actually a separate issue.
In this case, you’ll want to verify that the DNS records are correct, so that your customers can reach your site. If the records are incorrect, you’ll have to wait for the old name servers to expire before you can update your name server records again.
More time without your website could mean lost sales and disappointed customers.
Your Current Registrar Does Not Support Name Server Updates:
Another name server updating problem that can stall your process is if your current registrar does not support name server updates.
In this case, you’ll need to find another registrar that does support this process and update your name servers there instead.
It’s best to check with your registrar before you start the name server update process to make sure they support it.
This way, you won’t waste time trying to complete an update that your registrar can’t handle.
The Steps for Successful Name Server Updates
Create a Log of Your Name Server Information:
Before you do anything else, make sure you have a log of your current name server information.
You’ll need this if anything goes wrong and you need to troubleshoot the problem.
You can do this by logging into your hosting account and registrar account and copying the information from there.
Save Login Information for Hosting and Registrar:
Next, make sure you save login information for your current hosting account and your current registrar so you can access these accounts and update your name servers at any time.
The registrar login information is usually in the “Manage Domains” section of your account.
The hosting login information is usually on the hosting account billing page.
Backup Your Current DNS Records:
Before updating your name servers, make sure to backup your current DNS records.
You can do this by logging into your registrar account and copying the current DNS records.
You’ll then want to keep these records in a safe place so you can revert back to them if something goes wrong with the new records.
Configure New Name Servers:
Once you have the name server log, login information, and current DNS records saved, you can begin the name server update process.
First, make sure you have the IP addresses of your new name servers.
Next, log into your registrar account and click on “Manage Domains”. From there, click on the name of your domain name to manage it and select “Change Name Servers”.
Verify New DNS Records Are Active and Correct:
Next, verify that the new DNS records are active and correct. If they are, you can rest assured that your website will be online as soon as the old name servers expire.
You can also log into your hosting account and verify that your website is online and accessible to visitors.
Once you’re ready to update your name servers, make sure you’ve created a log of existing name server information, saved login information for your hosting and registrar accounts, and backed up your current DNS records.
This way, you can’t go wrong when updating your name servers and risk losing your domain name.