Stephen Ostermiller's Blog

Myth: You need to change your DNS NS records to point to your web host

When setting up web hosting for the first time, how to set up the DNS records can be very confusing. There are often instructions for pointing your name server (NS) DNS records to your web host. This isn't usually the only way to set it up.

The biggest insight into setting up DNS is that you need four services to host a website and email:

  • Domain registraration
  • DNS hosting
  • Web hosting
  • Email hosting

Your NS records need to point to your DNS host. That isn't necessarily the some company that hosts your website. Most web hosting companies throw in DNS hosting for free. So do most domain registrars. It is fine to use either your web host OR your domain registrar as your DNS host. It is also OK to choose a third party that specializes in DNS hosting.

The DNS that needs to point to your web host is the A, AAAA, and or CNAME records. You put the NS records in at your domain registrar to point to your DNS host. Then at your DNS host, you add the records to point to your web host.

If you move your website to a new host, you only need to change your NS records if you are also changing your DNS host. If you continue to host your DNS with the same company, you only need to change the records at your DNS host that point to your web host. You don't need to change your NS records.

Diagram of DNS records for web hosting and email from domain registrar to DNS host to web and email hosts

This article was written as part of a series about SEO myths.

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