Personal nameservers streamline multiple domains

Posted on 20 Jun 2011 by Alan Burns

For those of you with your own domain names, a few questions:

  • Do you host multiple domain names?
  • Do you resell hosting to clients?
  • Have you ever moved to a new server or web host, and had to spend time at your domain registrar changing nameservers for every domain individually?

If you answered “yes” to any of those, then you should consider using personal nameservers.

As I stated in an earlier post, personal nameservers are one of the great advantages of a reseller, VPS or dedicated hosting plan over standard shared hosting. Instead of using nameservers provided by your host, with their name in the domain name, you create nameservers tied to your reseller domain or main domain. If your main reseller domain is “AcePro.com”, you may create ns1.AcePro.com and ns2.AcePro.com. You can configure all your “client” accounts to use ns1. and ns2.AcePro.com as their nameservers.

If you’ve ever had to move several domains to a new host or a new server with your existing host, you’ll know how much work it is. You must change the nameserver list for each domain individually at the domain registrar. It can be worse if you have paying hosting clients who maintain control over their own domain names. Before the move, you must inform your clients that you’re moving, asking them to change their nameservers (by editing the list at their domain registrars) by a certain date. Naturally some of them do not, so after the move you’re dealing with client complaints due to failing e-mail and site inaccessibility.

With personal nameservers, you need only register the new IP addresses for your personal nameservers, and all client domains will resolve to the new location automatically based on your nameservers. When I have moved servers (which I have done a few times) all I’ve had to do is to update my nameserver IPs for my reseller domain, the main domain that “contains” the personal nameservers, at my registrar. It takes less than a minute.

Personal nameservers, when enabled by your web host, are a way of exercising greater control over your domain names. The nameservers, which provide lookup services to direct Internet traffic to your domains, become part of one of your domains (usually your main domain). While they aren’t different servers, as you’ll still be using the physical nameservers provided by your host, they’ll now be identified with your domain name.

More importantly, personal nameservers mean that all your many domain names, and resold client domain names, will all be tied to your main domain. That eases management tasks.

In addition to the efficiency benefits, personal nameservers are a way to add more professionalism by further branding your on-line presence. This is feature that many hosting resellers like to use to disguise the fact that they are reselling. They like the nameservers to be part of their own domain. Many large companies also do this, both for the control and the branding. For example, a domain lookup on microsoft.com shows that it uses the following nameservers:

  • ns1.msft.net
  • ns2.msft.net
  • ns3.msft.net
  • ns4.msft.net
  • ns5.msft.net

As msft.net is registered to Microsoft, those are personal nameservers.

Terminology
Nameservers may be spelled as “nameservers” or as “name servers”. Personal nameservers are often referred to as “private” nameservers, though I dislike that term since they are certainly not private. Nameservers are, by definition, accessible and queryable, so they are not private. A truly private nameserver would be of little use. I believe that “personal nameservers” is more descriptively accurate. The idea is that the nameservers are personalized to you.

An ideal term would be “branded” nameservers, but I’ve yet to see anyone call them that. Whatever you call them, I think they are a great aid to anyone managing many domain names. In an upcoming article I’ll explain how to create personal nameservers.

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