Domain registrars sell domain names for your website. But do domain registrars affect speed? If they do, you would surely want to be careful about it. The answer to this is a little tricky but here you go.
Domain registrars don’t affect your website speed as long as you don’t use their name servers. Your domain registrar’s only job is to submit your domain registration information to the database of your domain’s registry (not registrar - they are different). But most domain registrars offer name servers as an additional service and if you use this service, only then it will affect your website speed. Let’s look into what I mean and what you need to do about it.
What does a Domain Name Registrar do?
Domain registrars work as a middleman between you and the domain registry that provides domain name extensions like .com, .net, .org, and so on. For instance, if you want to buy the domain name example.com, you will need to go to a domain name registrar like NameCheap. Then if the domain name isn’t already registered by someone else, you can register it for yourself.
Now, to register the domain, you will need to create an account with NameCheap by providing your basic information like name, email, phone number, and address. Then you can place an order for the domain and register it for your use. While registering your domain, NameCheap will ask you to provide name server records for the domain. Name servers are used to help people find your website on the internet using your domain name. There are different types of name servers but here by name server, I mean Authoritative Name Server also known as Authoritative DNS Server which stores the information that tells people where the website associated with your domain is located on the internet.
Also, whenever I use name server in this article, I will use it to mean Authoritative Name Server.
After you register the domain, NameCheap will submit your domain registration information like your domain name, name server records and your contact details to the appropriate domain name registry. Because you are registering a .com domain, the domain registry will be Verisign.
Verisign will then store your domain registration information in their WHOIS database and make the information publicly available. They will also help people find your Authoritative Name Server by keeping your name server records in their TLD Name Server. TLD Name Server is used to tell people where your Authoritative Name Server is located.
Therefore, the two most important things your domain registrar does is help you register a domain name with a domain registry and submit your domain registration information to that registry.
When do domain registrars affect speed?
Once your domain name registrar submits your domain registration information, the domain registry takes over and starts managing your domain. Therefore, your domain registrar doesn’t have any impact on your domain name and that’s why it doesn’t have any impact on your website speed or page speed. So, even if your domain registrar disappears for a few days, hypothetically speaking, your domain name won’t be affected in any way unless you need to renew your domain or change name server records.
Even though domain registrars don’t affect your website speed, there is an exception to this. And that is if you choose to use their Authoritative Name Server for your domain name. Most domain registrars, in fact, offer a free Authoritative Name Server which is used as the default name server when your register your domain name unless you set a different one by yourself. To understand how your domain registrar’s name server can affect your website speed you first need to understand what an Authoritative Name Server does.
When you enter a domain name like example.com into your browser and press enter, your browser needs to find an IP address that is associated with that domain name. This is because computers need IP addresses like 188.8.131.52 to communicate with one another and in this case fetch a website from another computer. So, you need to associate your IP address with your domain name in order for web browsers to find your website. And the place where you store this information regarding your domain name and IP address is the Authoritative Name Server. Which becomes responsible for telling the IP address for your domain name whenever it gets a query about your domain. Therefore, its speed of doing that will affect the speed of your website.
You can read more about DNS servers in this article.
Therefore, if you use the Authoritative Name Server of your domain registrar, the registrar will affect your website speed. But if you change your name server records to use someone else’s Authoritative Name Server like your web hosting provider or a third-party name server provider, your domain registrar won’t have any effect on your website speed.
So, if you were unsure about choosing a domain registrar because of its effect on your website speed, you can now ignore this issue and focus on the other factors like price, support, features, and others that will be helpful to you later on. And you, of course, always have the option to change your domain registrar by transferring your domains to another registrar if you don’t feel comfortable with your current registrar.
For future reference, the association between a domain name and an IP address is called DNS or Domain Name System. And the individual information that associates a domain name with an IP address is called a DNS record.
If you want to know if domain extensions like .com, .net, and others affect website speed, here you go.
How much effect do name servers have on website speed?
The speed of a website mainly depends on the web hosting plan, website contents and their optimization, caching, and the use of CDN. So, factors like the speed of your name server don’t affect your website speed as much as those other factors. A name server generally affects a website load time by a few milliseconds to a few hundred milliseconds. But if the name server is really slow, it can add a few seconds to your website load time.
Anyway, if you want to ensure the best possible speed for your website, focusing on high performing name server can be a good idea. It is also a necessary element to make your website always accessible on the internet. What I mean is that, if your domain’s name server goes down, your visitors won’t be able to find the IP address associated with your website and therefore they won’t be able to access it. So, it is better to use a name server provider who has a good infrastructure and can ensure a faster and reliable connection between your website visitors and your website.
Even though a good name server provider is important, it is possible to minimize the effect of a name server by utilizing DNS caching. DNS caching allows web browsers, operating systems and Recursive DNS Servers (it helps your web browser to find IP addresses associated with domain names and it is provided to you by your ISP or the company that sells you internet connection) to save the IP address associate with your domain name in their cache memory after they find your IP address from your Authoritative Name Server. This way the connection between a browser and your website becomes faster because the browser doesn’t have to go through your name server every time it wants to connect to your website.
Additionally, you can use TTL or Time to Live to tell how long the DNS records should be cached so that if you later change the IP address associated with your domain, the browser doesn’t try to connect to the previous IP address.
Should I use the name server of my domain registrar?
It all depends on the infrastructure of your domain registrar’s name server. If it has many data centers around the world that can make quick responses to DNS queries, provide security against DNS related attacks, and ensure close to 100 percent, if not 100 percent, uptime, then you can surely use their name server. However, most domain registrars are mainly focused on the registration of domain names and not on the DNS server infrastructure. That’s why if you want to have the absolute best performance for your website, you should consider choosing a name server provider that has one of the best infrastructures for providing these services.
You can use DNS Perf to check which name server providers are performing the best and what their average speed and uptime are. Make sure that you are on the Authoritative DNS Providers tab though it will be selected by default. Additionally, you can check your current name server’s speed by running a test from this DNS Perf webpage. Then you can compare the result to see how your name server is holding up against the most performing ones. If you think your current provider is doing well, you can stick with them. Otherwise, you can choose to go with another name server provider.
Is it better to use the name server of my web hosting provider?
The main job of a name server is to store the DNS records for your domain name so that people can find your website on the internet and therefore you can use any name server provider you want. But to get the most performance benefit from your name server, you should go with a fast and reliable provider. However, there are generally some conveniences if you use your web hosting provider’s name server.
Some web hosting providers may require you to use their name server and in that case, you may not be able to use any other name server provider for your domain. But you can always contact their support team and ask if there is any way for you to use a different name server. Then they will probably give you an IP address and tell you to update your domain’s DNS records on the other provider’s name server to point your domain name to that IP address.
Another important factor is that If you are new and don’t want to spend time doing some research about DNS records, you might be better of using the name server of your web hosting provider. That’s because when you add a domain name to your web hosting account, most web hosting providers will automatically create some DNS records for you which will be necessary for your website to function properly. But if you don’t use you web hosting provider’s name server, you will have to deal with different DNS records like creating an A record to point your domain name to your IP address, creating a CNAME record to use the subdomain www as an alias of your main domain and so on.
Therefore, if you just want the convenience and don’t care about the small performance boost, using your web hosting provider’s name server can be a good idea for you.
Which name server provider should I use for maximum speed?
There are several options for you as to which name server provider you can use. For instance, you can use the name server of your domain registrar, web hosting provider, a third-party name server provider or a private name server that you create yourself.
However, if you want to use a name server that will give you one of the fastest DNS resolution speed (it is the speed at which a name server can provide IP addresses associated with domain names), nearly 100 percent uptime, and good security for your domain, I will suggest you go with CloudFlare. It has over 200 data centers around the world that use Anycast DNS networking for faster DNS resolution and nearly 100 percent uptime. Additionally, their massive amount of data centers and their experience from working with tens of millions of websites provide some superior security benefits for the domains using their name server.
Furthermore, CloudFlare comes as one of the fastest name server providers in the world with around 10 to 15 milliseconds of response time and around 99.99 to 100 percent uptime based on the performance tests done by DNS Perf.
Besides name server, CloudFlare provides you with website optimization, CDN and caching services that help make your website contents load faster. But the best part is that you get to use all these features in CloudFlare’s free plan where you can add as many domains as you want.
A good domain registrar is important for reasons like their reliability, good support, easy to use website interface, and so on. But the main job of your domain registrar is to help you register a domain name with a domain registry like Verisign in case of a .com domain extension and to submit your domain registration information to the registry. After that, the domain registry takes the responsibility to help people find your domain-related information. That’s why your domain registrar doesn’t have any effect on your domain name or the speed of your website.
However, your website speed is affected by the performance of your name server which stores the information about your domain name that tells other computers where to find your website on the internet. And the speed of your name server doing so affects the speed of your website. That’s why if you use the name server provided by your domain registrar, your website speed will be your domain registrar. But if you use a name server provider other than your domain registrar like your web hosting provider, any third-party provider, or your private name server, your website won’t be affected by your domain registrar but by the provider of your name server.
You can choose the right name server provider for your domain based on the thing you value most. For instance, if you want the convenience and don’t want to spend time learning about things to maintain a third-party name server, you will be better of using the name server provided by your web hosting provider.
But if you want to ensure the maximum possible speed from your website, you should choose a name server provider that has many data centers around the world and can quickly and reliably respond to your domain related queries to visitors at any location.
One such name server provider is CloudFlare that can help maximize your website speed to the highest extent. That’s because they have a massive infrastructure with over 200 data centers all over the world and their use of Anycast DNS networking helps quickly and reliably respond to domain related queries in the fastest possible manner. And even though they offer premium plans, you will be able to use their name server and some other important features completely for free using their free plan.