What is DNS?

In this article, we’ll provide a basic overview of DNS and other domain definitions that may be useful when configuring your DNS information. 

What is DNS?

DNS (Domain Name System) is an Internet system that converts human-memorable domain names (such as mywebsite.com) into computer-readable addresses (such as

All computers and devices connected to the Internet have a numeric IP address, but long lists of numbers can be difficult to remember! Domain names are preferable as they’re easy to remember. DNS automatically matches IP addresses with domain names. 

The technical terms surrounding DNS can be confusing if you’re new to web hosting. We have various Knowledge Base articles to help you understand DNS basics and ensure you configure your domain records correctly. 

Here’s a list of common DNS related terms and definitions you’ll encounter when managing your domains:

What is a domain?

Most commonly, a domain is a unique label used to identify and access websites. For example, hostpapa.com is a specific domain name that leads to our home page. 

What is a nameserver (or name server)? 

Nameservers are computers that translate domain names to their numeric IP address equivalent. The nameserver is usually owned by the company where the domain is registered. Domains registered with HostPapa use nameservers called ns1.hostpapa.com and ns2.hostpapa.com. If you have registered your domain with a third-party registrar, you can use their nameservers.

What is a zone file?

A zone file stores your domain’s DNS settings. It consists of various “records” that define addresses for the servers hosting your website and other resources, such as email. Depending on your HostPapa service, you can use the Zone Editor in the HostPapa Dashboard or in My cPanel to make changes to the zone file.

What is an A record?

An A record points your domain name to a specific computer on the Internet that holds your website’s files and folders. An A record always points to an IP address (such as

What is a CNAME record? 

CNAME (Canonical Name) records direct subdomains to computers on the Internet, but they use server names, not IP addresses, for identification. CNAME records allow an administrator to point multiple systems to one IP address without assigning an A record to each host name. If your server IP changes, you only have to change one A record’s IP address to update all associated CNAME records.

What is an MX record? 

MX (Mail Exchanger) records point your domain name email to an email provider. You can have multiple MX records for a single domain. The mail server will attempt to contact each record in numeric order, starting at the lowest number. MX records must point to a domain, never to an IP address.

What is a TXT record?

A TXT record provides text information to sources outside of your domain. TXT records contain human-readable information about a server or network, and are commonly used for email security features such as Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys (DK), and DomainKeys Identified E-mail (DKIM).

If you need help with DNS and your HostPapa account settings, please open a support ticket from your dashboard.

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