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When looking up information about a website, there are different amounts of data you can find based on the type of search you do. You may also find yourself wondering if the same type of search goes by more than one name as well. With that in mind, today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answers to a confused reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

Image courtesy of India7 Network (Flickr).

The Question

SuperUser reader yoyo_fun wants to know if there is a difference between name server and domain name search results:

I have seen the terms “name server” and “domain name” both being used, but I am not sure if there is a difference between them or not. Can someone please explain the difference if there is one?

Is there a difference between name server and domain name search results?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor DavidPostill has the answer for us:

Is there a difference between name server and domain name search results?

A “name server” lookup retrieves the IP address associated with a domain name. A “domain name” lookup, also referred to as whois, retrieves the domain’s registration data (the domain owner’s details).

How Do I Perform a Name Server Lookup?

Online using a variety of name server lookup services

On Windows use nslookup

On Unix use dig

Example Output (Source: http://ping.eu/nslookup/):

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Example Output (Windows nslookup):

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Example Output (Linux dig):

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How Do I Perform a Domain Name Lookup?

Online using a variety of domain name lookup services

On Unix use whois

Example Output (Source: https://whois.domaintools.com/google.com):

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Example Output (Linux whois):

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Further Reading

How do I find the authoritative name-server for a domain name? [StackOverflow]

Domain Name System [Wikipedia]

10 Linux DIG Command Examples for DNS Lookup [The Geek Stuff]

nslookup – Look up IP addresses on a Name Server


Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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