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What are DNS Transfers?

Review the following article to learn more about DNS and DNS transfers and how it applies to you.

DNS stands for Domain Name Service and/or Domain Name Servers. The Domain Name Service (DNS) can be thought of much like a directory or phone book. If you need to contact someone via telephone but only have his/her name, you can always check the phone book for their telephone number. The same applies when dealing with the Internet although this kind of "lookup" often happens in the background, unnoticed.

Most browse the Internet remembering domain names such as 1and1.com as this is easy to remember (like a person's name). Each domain name (such as 1and1.com) has an address on the Internet (IP address) where the website files are located so that when you type www.1and1.com, your Internet Browser and computer check the DNS records to see where it can locate the website's files and then makes a connection to the server at this address to retrieve the website. This all happens in the background with most never even realizing the process.

DNS, just like a phone book, contains more information than say, just a telephone number. A phone book will usually have a physical address listed so that you can mail a letter to that person's address. DNS also holds other records as well such as which e-mail server should e-mail be sent to for a domain. If you are sending two physical letters to John and Janice Smith and they live at the same address, you would keep the address the same on both letters but each letter would be addressed to either John or Janice. The same happens with e-mail on the Internet. Each domain uses one mail server so that when you send an e-mail to john.smith@1and1.com and janice.smith@1and1.com, both e-mails are sent to the same (e-mail server) location for 1and1.com but each person receives his/her respective copy individually.

When you register a domain name with a hosting provider, that provider will usually automatically enter DNS records for that domain so that your domain points to the correct servers that hold your website files and e-mail accounts. Almost all providers now allow you to alter the DNS settings yourself so that you can keep your domain with the initial provider, but point to a different set of servers that you want to hold your website files and e-mail accounts. This is known as an external domain transfer or a DNS transfer.

This is convenient if you have purchased a domain from a company that has cheap domain registrations but expensive hosting plans. You can purchase a hosting plan at another company and simply change the DNS settings so your domain uses the other, cheaper hosting provider's DNS (directory/phone book). The hosting provider's DNS will already be configured to point to the right servers for your website files and e-mail so all you need to do is "tell" the domain which DNS servers (directory/phone book) to use.

Changing DNS servers take time (much like a change in address) and may take up to 48 hours until the update has been recognized by all servers on the Internet.


  • If you currently have a domain registered at another company and wish to use 1&1's hosting or e-mail services, please Point Your Domain to 1&1 Name Servers.
  • If you currently have a domain registered with 1&1 and wish to use different name servers (DNS), please follow the guide on how to Use Your Own Name Server for a 1&1 Domain.
  • If you are using the 1&1 name servers (DNS) regardless of where you have purchased the domain and wish to change any records (IP address, Mail Server address, etc.) Please reference the DNS Settings section of the 1&1 Help Center.