When you have registered a domain name, you need to ensure that it points to the Internet server where your website is hosted (“lives”).
I register my domains with GoDaddy as I described in an earlier post.
If we are providing you with a done-for-you service then you do not need this post as this step will have happened automatically for you, but otherwise you may need to change your nameservers. (For instance, if you have an existing domain that you want to transfer to us to take advantage of the the additional services we offer.)
What Are Name Servers?
In case this is a new term to you, nameservers map the human-friendly domain name (for instance SystemicLtd.com) to the physical IP / Internet Protocol address (unique internet address) where your domain is stored. This is done using Domain Name Servers (DNS).
You don’t actually need to understand the process, but if you want to, I can explain DNS by quoting from an excellent site HowStuffWorks:
DNS is a protocol within the set of standards for how computers exchange data on the Internet and on many private networks, known as the TCP/IP protocol suite. Its basic job is to turn a user-friendly domain name like “howstuffworks.com” into an Internet Protocol (IP) address like 188.8.131.52 that computers use to identify each other on the network.
How To Change Name Servers
So (to carry on with my previous example) you may have registered your domain name with GoDaddy, but be hosting it at “Another Company”. In that case you need to tell GoDaddy to point your domain name to Another’s servers, where the files making up your website are being hosted (stored). This is a one-off job, so don’t worry! If you get stuck there are tutorial videos in GoDaddy and they also have a very helpful support desk.
All you need to do is login to your domain registrar account and from within your account, launch the domain management section. Select the domain name you want to change and you will see information such as this.
Select the drop down option to “Set Nameservers” and change them to the Nameservers given to you when you signed up for your hosting account. The nameservers in the example above will differ from your nameservers.
When you have made the change, you need to allow a certain length of time for the new settings to be propagated round the Internet. The time needed is unpredictable and out of your control. It can be fast, or it may take as long as 48 hours. After a suitable time you should find that you can access your new site from the human-friendly name. To be safe, wait the full 48 hours before promoting your domain name!
If it hasn’t happened as quickly as you hoped for, wait the full 48 hours before you raise a support ticket or resubmit the change. In the former case you’ll just be reminded you haven’t waited long enough. In the latter case, you’ll probably restart the whole “wait” time again.
This is all “stuff” I didn’t know when I first started out online, but everyone assumed I knew all about it and treated it as something I could do in 5 minutes. It wasn’t! Apologies if this is old-hat to some readers. Hopefully it will be helpful to newer people.