What is the difference between a Registrar and DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. A domain registrar will provide you with a new domain name and connect it to your IP address. When you put anything on the web it’s the first step in making sure that visitors can find you.

The whole internet uses IP addresses but the common person will be searching for www.yournamehere.com. In this way DNS is an easier way for people to get where they are going on the internet. It is a lot less confusing than remembering stings of numbers for everywhere we visit which look like the following 123.45.678.90.

Here is where people seem to get confused. A DNS host provides the service of hosting your DNS records, while a domain registrar is where you can purchase a domain name from. Some hosting providers offer registration as a service but a DNS host and a registrar are not the same thing.

Computers aren’t like people. They can’t communicate using domain names. In that way DNS is really just a way to make it easier on us all as we navigate. When you register a domain name you have to go through a DNS registrar. DNS is managed by the International Assigned Numbers Authority otherwise known as IANA. The IANA is part of an even bigger nonprofit organization called ICANN.

Rarely do any of us actually deal with a DNS registrar. Web hosting providers are the place most of us get our domain names from. They talk to the registrar for us in these cases.

Once you have purchased a domain name for yourself through a hosting provider or directly from a registrar a DNS hosting provider hosts the servers that will authoritatively respond for your domain.

This is the part where it gets a little tricky. There are Domain name registrars who offer DNS hosting as a service that they can provide. There are Dedicated companies that just do DNS hosting. There are also web hosting providers who may or may not also offer DNS hosting.

When a web hosting company offers you DNS services it is an add on in which they are providing you with an opportunity to conveniently register your DNS.

Here is a simple analogy in which this can be explained.

  • Your WEB HOST is like a real estate agent who will give you a place to park your website
  • DNS is similar to the way in which we might use a commonly understood expression in place of an address. This is like saying “the grocery store”, “across the street” or “Frank and Lindas house”.
  • Lastly, in this analogy DNS HOSTING would be what connects you to the post office to get any packages that are sent to that address.

I hope this article cleared up some of the confusion. If you are looking for more information you might take a look at ASPnix Domain Name Registration or ASPnix DNS Hosting Services.