When you purchase a domain name, the next thing is you would want it to work. As I alluded in my previous article, domain name uses include setting up emails, name servers and websites, of which the most common uses by the majority of people are emails and websites. For these services to work for your domain name the domain has to be configured.
Most domain registrars provide email hosting and web hosting services. If you are signing up for your domain registrar’s hosting services there may not be a need to configure your domain since most of the registrars will have it configured already if you are using their hosting service.
To use a third party hosting service, there is need to configure your domain to point to your host’s servers. There are two ways to point your domain to your host’s servers in order to use their hosting services.
It’s either you use your domain registrar’s name servers and use DNS records to point the domain to your host, or you use your host’s name servers and manage your domain from the host’s control panel. Another thing to note is you have to add your domain to your host’s account when pointing your domain to the host.
Using Your Host’s Name Servers
When you sign up for hosting services, the host furnishes you with a minimum of two name servers (primary and secondary) to use in order to point to their servers. An example of nameservers looks as follows;
- ns1.webenchanter.com (primary name server)
- ns2.webenchanter.com (secondary name server)
Usually, domain registrars use their default name servers when you are registering a domain name. You can change these name servers during the registration process and if you have not yet signed up for any hosting services you can leave the domain registrar’s default name servers which you can change later.
To change the name servers after registration you will simply need to log on to your domain registrar’s control panel and input your desired name servers. However, this may not be the case with some country code Top Level Domains(ccTLDs) e.g. .co.zw domains where you need to send an email requesting the name servers to be changed by the registry operator.
After effecting the name server changes, note that it takes from 24 to 48 hours (depending on the zone publishing frequency set by the registry operator) for the domain name to propagate i.e for other networks to reflect the name server changes.
Using The DNS Records
When registering a domain name, if you do not change the name servers the domain registrar will use its default name servers. In this case, you will have an option to change the name servers at a later stage or continue with the domain registrar’s name servers and then use the DNS records to point to your desired host. You can only access your domain through your domain registrar’s control panel if your domain name bears the domain registrar’s name servers.
The DNS records include the A/AAAA records, CNAME records, MX Records etc. We will cover the types of DNS records in the articles to follow. To configure these DNS records, you need to log onto the control panel provided by your domain registrar. Here is an example of how a control panel looks like (using cPanel as an example). Note that registrars use different control panels.
I highly recommend this option of using DNS Records to point your domain to your host over the use of name servers for those who frequently change hosts as this offers some flexibility and it usually takes less time for the DNS records to propagate.