Why do Name Servers take time to propagate?

There are many reasons why you might change name servers for your website. Generally speaking it is because you are changing from one web host to another, upgrading from a shared web hosting plan or to a VPS web hosting plan. Changing your DNS Nameservers is fairly easy and can be done through the client area of our website.

As a rule when you change Name Servers or Domain Name Systems (DNS) it can take up to 48 hours for the updates to take affect across the internet. The propagation time to migrate name servers varies due to several reasons beyond the control of your web host company.

Factors affecting Name Server propagation time:

  • Factor #1- ISP: Every ISP such as Telstra or iiNet cache DNS records to speed up the world’s websites. Some ISPs only update their caches every 2-3 days meaning if you change name servers it may take some computers several days to pick up the new cache. This means your computer might reflect the new website address, whilst your neighbour might be looking at the old website!
  • Factor #2- Domain Name Registry- Domain name registries are companies that record ownership of the world’s domain names. If you own a domain name you would have received a certificate stating that you are owner of a particular domain name. Some domain name registries update their records every few minutes, others take 24 hours as they have greater security features. This can ensure websites can’t get hacked and domain name transfers happen before the actual owner of the website realizes.
  • Factor #3- TTL Settings (Time to Live)- TTL is the time your website servers cache information for DNS records. You can adjust your TTL speeds within your DNS/ CPanel dashboard to increase your propagation time but shorter time periods mean the number of queries to your server increases so you’re actually slowing down your website. Personally, I’d avoid touching your TTL settings unless you really know what you’re doing.

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About Robin Jennings

I'm a creative web designer that specialises in designing and marketing websites for small business owners, community groups and creative types. I'm based in regional Victoria but work with clients Australia-Wide as well as a healthy sprinkling of overseas clients through my Web Design Agency: Explainafide

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