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This document is for a previous release of cPanel & WHM. To view our latest documentation, visit our Home page.

For cPanel & WHM 11.44

What is a nameserver?

In their simplest form, nameservers match domain names to IP addresses and share your server's domain names and IP addresses with the Internet. Without nameservers, potential visitors can only access your server and its websites via IP address.

  1. When a visitor enters a URL into a browser, the computer queries the nameserver for the IP address that corresponds to the domain name that the visitor specified.
  2. After the visitor's computer has this information, the browser can access the website that you requested.

Nameservers also share information with other nameservers. This allows visitors to quickly and efficiently access websites that your server hosts.

  • This concept is called propagation.
  • When you first set up a website, its DNS information may take up to a few days to propagate throughout the Internet. This delay means that some visitors may be temporarily unable to access the website.

What is the difference between DNS software and DNS records?

DNS records are the resources within a zone file that map domain names and other services to their IP addresses. A DNS record can specify which mailservers exist for a given domain.

  • These records also identify which nameservers contain authoritative information about your domains and services.


    Your server's local zone files must match the domain information that you specified to the registrar.

The nameserver software on your server manages nameserver records.

  • cPanel & WHM offers three nameserver software options: BIND, NSD, and MyDNS.

Why do I have to update nameserver records at the registrar?

When you update your nameserver records at the registrar, the registrar can push your domain's DNS information to their DNS namespace.

What is an authoritative nameserver?

Authoritative nameservers return responses to queries for one or more zones.

  • An authoritative nameserver does not cache DNS information for related domains.
  • Responses from authoritative nameservers are known as authoritative answers.
  • You can configure an authoritative nameserver to return authoritative answers for some zones while it caches information for other zones.

What are the differences between local, private (custom), clustered, and remote nameservers?

  • Local — Local nameservers are authoritative nameservers that are hosted by the same server that hosts the nameserver's cPanel accounts.
  • Clustered — Clustered nameservers are part of a collection of nameservers that all have authoritative nameserver status and share information amongst themselves. These nameservers prevent down time. If one server fails, then additional servers are available to pick up the slack.


    Do not confuse a DNS cluster with a configuration cluster. 

  • Private or Custom — This type of nameserver is a custom-branded or vanity alternative name for the authoritative nameserver.
  • Remote — Remote nameservers are authoritative nameservers that are hosted on a separate server from the website.

What is the difference between DNS clusters and the default local nameserver setup?

You can cluster software to ensure that all nameservers in the DNS cluster contain the same information. Clustered software will also share DNS information with servers that are external to the server that actually hosts the website.

  • Some registrars require this configuration, but most do not.
  • In larger server deployments, you can offload DNS to a DNS cluster configuration to lessen the load on the local sever as well.
  • For more information about how to deploy a DNS cluster within WHM, read our  DNS Cluster documentation.

Do I need to use DNSONLY to create a DNS cluster?

No. You can create a DNS cluster on several cPanel & WHM servers without DNSONLY. You can also configure BIND to create a DNS cluster with non-cPanel & WHM servers. We do not support this configuration.

Where are my DNS zone files stored?

cPanel & WHM stores zone files in the /var/named directory, regardless of the selected nameserver software.

What if my DNS zones will not load?

If your server is part of a DNS cluster, and your DNS zones will not load, you may need to delete the temporary files in the /var/cpanel/dnsrequests_db directory. To do this, run the following commands:

cd /var/cpanel/dnsrequests_db
rm *


Whenever the dnsadmin process runs, it checks all of the files in the /var/cpanel/dnsrequests_db directory. If the dnsadmin request has a large number of files to check, the request may time out before the system loads your DNS zones.

Open the /var/cpanel/dnsrequests_db.last_clean_time file and check the most recent date that the system cleared the /var/cpanel/dnsrequests_db directory. We recommend that you set up a cron job to clear the directory on a regular basis.

If your DNS zones will still not load, open a support ticket.


Additional Resources