What Is an NS1 Prefix?

By Shea Laverty

Name servers are a vital element of surfing the Web, keeping us from having to remember a laundry list of similar and potentially confusing IP addresses. Any time you see a URL address with an NS1 prefix, you're actually seeing the primary name server address. Typically, you don't see these address entries outside of a domain name system's list of entries.

Name Server

Name servers are the reason we don't directly use IP addresses to navigate the Web. They translate the domain names we enter when we type a URL into a Web browser address bar into the correct IP address, which then routes us to the website. Name servers are used for virtually all website servers, whether that server is professionally hosted, self hosted or even a virtual private server.

Primary vs. Secondary

All domain names have at least two name servers in place, typically designated with an NS prefix. The primary server is generally designated NS1, as it is the first and main server. Subsequent name servers are designated based on their order -- secondary servers are NS2, tertiary servers are NS3 and so on. All servers after NS1 function as backups, which fill in when the primary server doesn't respond to IP address requests. Typical name server addresses look as follows:ns1.server.comns2.server.com

Virtual Private Servers

In some situations, Internet hosting companies use virtualized servers to host individual domain names and websites. These virtualized servers function basically like a regular server, the only difference being they're virtual instead of physical, with multiple virtual servers being hosted on a single physical machine. By virtualizing servers, hosts can serve more customers without having to buy more machines. The downside is that the myriad virtual servers all have to share resources, as they are powered by a single physical machine. This means there may be limitations on bandwidth and disk space in order to accommodate everyone.

Using Name Servers With VPS

Typically, VPS servers are poor choices to use for name servers. This is because name servers draw on the VPS's already limited resources, which may put further strain on your VPS. Internet hosting service Webfusion recommends that instead, you tie name servers to your host's domain name provider. To do this, you'll have to make a few minor changes to your domain's DNS entries, as follows:ns1.server.com[[VPS IP Address]]ns2.server.com[[VPS IP Address]]With these entries in place, the name servers will still direct users to your VPS's IP address without draining the VPS's resources.