Sometimes you might decide to use a hosting service that doesn’t offer domains for purchase, or maybe you want to switch hosting or you found a domain somewhere else for cheaper. When this happens, how do you get your domain name connected to your hosting account?
It’s common for websites to have their domain held by one service and hosting through another. The important thing with a setup like this is making sure they’re linked. This link is established by a thing called nameservers.
Nameserver – Each domain has nameservers associated with it that tell other computers where to look for that website’s information when users try to access it. In other words, when a user enters a URL, that domain’s nameservers get sent back to tell the user’s computer which hosting service that domain uses so it can load the right files.
Because of the way this is setup, nameservers are stored in a universally recognized place, rather than with the rest of your website’s data on the host’s server. Consequentially, whenever you modify them so you can use a new hosting service it may take a few days for that change to show up so keep that in mind and be patient when switching.
Performing the Switch
So how do you change a domain’s nameservers?
Start by looking up what the nameservers of your hosting service are. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a screenshot of this without setting up a new hosting account because all of mine have domains associated with them already, but usually it’s not hard to find. If they aren’t listed when you first go under your account, look under areas such as “associated domains” or sometimes they’ll even have a “nameservers” tab. They usually look something like ns##.hostingsite.com (but replace ## with a number and hostingsite with an actual site).
Once you’ve located the nameservers, open a new tab and go to the website where you purchased the domain. There should be an area under the domain’s information that resembles the screenshot below.
Enter each nameserver listed on your hosting site as a custom nameserver and click Save or Update and that’s all there is to it! It will probably take a few days (or in some cases up to a week) so just be patient. Go to your site now and check out what it looks like. It’ll probably either have some default page from where you purchased it up or it will just show an error. Check back every day or so, eventually that page will change, probably to a new default page from your hosting service, and then it’ll be ready for you to start making some changes!
Don’t know where to go next? Check out my tutorial on how to install WordPress here, or if you’ve got that taken care of already take a peak at my First Steps tutorial (coming soon!).