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How is a nameserver different from DNS records?

Individual DNS records such as A, CNAME, AAAA or MX records are used to map domains to specific IP addresses.  This is what associates your domain name with your hosting or email service provider. This can be compared to an entry in a phonebook, where not unlike an IP address, it is easier to look up the phone number associated with someone you want to call instead of remembering everyone's phone number.

If a DNS entry is like a phone number in a phonebook, the nameserver is the phonebook, as it stores DNS records to be looked up. Your hosting provider will typically provide you with two or more nameserver records specific to the server your website is currently being hosted on for redundancy if one of them fails. When you update the nameservers for your domain name you are effectively updating every DNS record you have associated with your domain name at once.

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