How to Work with Name Servers in the cPanel Hosting Control Panel

This article shows you how to work with nameservers in cPanel, how to edit or change them and confirm the changes have got through, and how to reduce the chances of having any downtime.

A nameserver assists in finding the location of the host server as well as the DNS zone records. It is usually a component of Domain Name Systems (DNS) that matches the domain names to IP addresses.

Each domain requires at least two nameservers, a primary and a secondary. However, there are instances when you may need more, primarily to increase redundancy or to depend on your services.

Configuring records for the nameserver in the cPanel

You can use your domain cPanel Zone editor to configure a wide range of records that the nameserver relies on. This allows you to add and edit records such as the servers, IP addresses, and more.

After changing the nameservers, either from the registrar, or from one host to another, the DNS records are usually overwritten by those of the hosting provider.

However, you can use the domain Zone editor to create or edit some entries such as those for the mail servers, subdomains, FTP, etc.

  • Log in to your control panel using  http://yourdomainname.com/cpanel or http://yourdomainname.com:2082
  • Enter your domain cPanel username and password
  • Navigate to Domains and open Zone Editor.

If you have several domains, select the domain you want to configure and click the record you want to add.

The zone editor above only allows you to add A, CNAME or MX records. However, clicking Manage gives the option to add more record entries. If you click add A Record, you will be prompted to enter the subdomain name and an IP address since the domain is already there.

Managing Records entries

The Manage option allows you to change entries such as domain names and IP addresses

  • Select the domain you want to configure and click Manage, (it gives you an option to add other records or edit existing ones).
  • To add a record, click + Add Record.
  • Select the record you want to add and proceed.

Use the drop-down list to select and add other records.

Editing a record

Click Edit for the field you want to change and insert your settings. For example, to edit the MX records for the mail server;

  • Click Add MX Record
  • Type your mail server name such as mail.yourdomainname.com
  • Type the IP address for your mail server
  • Save Record

 

Changing the name servers

Most domain registrars, who also provide hosting, will by default use their nameserver for all the domains they have registered. However, the domain owner can point it to another hosting server away from the registrar.

This requires changing the nameservers at the registrar so as to reflect those of the hosting provider. It can take up to 48 hours for the nameserver changes to take effect. However, this delay, also known as DNS propagation, takes an average of between 4 and 8 hours.

Most companies prefer purchasing domains from reliable or cheap registrars and then use a different provider for hosting. This allows them to select a hosting environment that meets the organization’s requirements. Usually, the hosting provider will give you the details of its nameservers.

Typical nameservers have names in the following formats.

  • dns1.registrar-name.com, or dns1.host-name.com
  • dns2.registrar-name.com,  or dns2.host-name.com
  • ns1.registrar-name.com, or ns1.host-name.com
  • ns2.registrar-name.com,  or ns2.host-name.com

By default, the registrar will point the domain to their nameservers. If you host your domain away from the registrar or moves to a different host, you need to change the nameservers at your domain registrar’s dashboard.

The actual process of changing may differ slightly depending on the registrar’s website.

However, the basics remain the same and usually include;

  • Logging in to your account on the registrar’s website
  • Selecting the domain to configure
  • Opening the nameservers settings area (this will have the registrar’s nameservers)
  • Look for and open the custom option, or similar name depending on the registrar.
  • Replace existing nameservers with your new ones and save settings.

Once you change the nameservers for your domain, the new settings do not become active immediately. It takes several hours for the new settings to propagate throughout the internet. During part of this propagation period, the domain and hence your website will be down and inaccessible. As such, the best time to change is during the weekend, night or any other low traffic period.

How to change nameservers on Namecheap and Interserver

As mentioned earlier, the actual steps vary according to the provider, and below are the specific procedure when your domain is registered by Namecheap and Interserver.

Changing nameserver at Namecheap

  • Log in to your Namecheap account
  • Click Manage along the domain you want to configure. It opens the Domain Details page.
  • Navigate to the Nameservers section and click on the drop-down list.
  • Select Custom DNS from the Namecheap Web Hosting DNS drop-down list
  • Type the nameserver 1 and nameserver 2 in the provided fields
  • Click ADD NAMESERVER if you have more than two
  • Click on the check sign to save.

Done, give the new nameservers a few hours to become effective.

Changing nameservers at Interserver

Log in to your account and navigate to the domains section. Hovering over Domains gives you View Domains and DNS manager, click View Domains.

  • Select the domain and click on View Domain Registration
    View, register or change nameservers
  • On the right-hand column, click nameservers at the bottom. It opens a window with the option to change or register a nameserver
  • Replace the nameservers with you new ones and click Update Nameserver.

Wait for a few hours for the DNS propagation.

Checking the nameservers

Misconfiguration of nameservers will make your website or email services unavailable. It is best practice to check and confirm that your domain is still working after changing the nameservers. However, you need to wait until a propagation time of up to 48 hours is over for the changes to complete.

Using automatic online tools

To confirm that you are using the right configuration, you can use one of the many online tools that allow you to see your domain nameservers, whether it has the correct domain records, if your domain is pointing to the right IP, and a wide range of parameters. Most of these are easy to use, free tools that take about less than five minutes to run and give comprehensive results.

Typical tools include Pingdom dnscheck, WHOIS lookup tools, and others.

A search with some tools will also more details such as IP addresses and other DNS records entries.

Using the hosting account dashboard

You can also confirm your nameserver setting on your registrar’s website.

  • Log in to your registrar’s website, navigate to domains and select the one you want to confirm.
  • Look for the nameserver section and check if it is using the correct names.
  • If not, change the settings to reflect the correct nameservers. If unable to change, ask your registrar to point the domain to your host.

Conclusion

Each domain is usually associated with at least two different nameservers run by the hosting provider.  This improves redundancy by ensuring that if one nameserver goes down, the other takes over, hence preventing the domain and related services from going down.

In cPanel hosting, you can use the inbuilt Zone editor to add and manage the records depending on your requirements.

When the registrar hosts your domain, they will use their default nameservers. However, if you host your domain with another provider or want to move from one host to another, you must change the nameservers in the registrar’s dashboard. This ensures that your domain is pointed to the hosting provider’s nameservers and environment.

 

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