Root Nameserver explained

A root name server is a DNS server that answers requests for the root namespace domain, and redirects requests for a particular top-level domain (TLD) to that TLD's nameservers. Although any local implementation of DNS can implement its own private root name servers, the term "root name server" is generally used to describe the thirteen well-known root name servers that implement the root namespace domain for the Internet's official global implementation of the Domain Name System.

All domain names on the Internet can be regarded as ending in a full stop character e.g. "". This final dot is generally implied rather than explicit, as modern DNS software does not actually require that the final dot be included when attempting to translate a domain name to an IP address. The empty string after the final dot is called the root domain, and all other domains (i.e. .com, .org, .net, etc.) are contained within the root domain.

When a computer on the Internet wants to resolve a domain name, it works from right to left, asking each name server in turn about the element to its left. The root name servers (which have responsibility for the . domain) know about which servers are responsible for the top-level domains. Each top-level domain (such as .org) has its own set of servers, which in turn delegate to the name servers responsible for individual domain names (such as, which in turn answer queries for IP addresses of subdomains or hosts (such as www).

In practice, most of this information doesn't change very often and gets cached, and necessary DNS lookups to the root nameservers are relatively rare. However, there are many incorrectly configured systems on the Internet that are responsible for the majority of root nameserver lookup traffic. For example, queries with the source address (corresponding to anywhere and everywhere) make it to the root servers. Also, misconfigured desktop computers sometimes try to update the root server records for the TLDs, which is incorrect.

There are currently 13 root name servers specified, with names in the form, where letter ranges from A to M. (Six of these are not actual single servers, but represent several physical servers each in multiple geographical locations; cf. below.):
Letter IP address Old name Operator Location Software
A VeriSign Dulles, Virginia, U.S. BIND
B USC-ISI Marina Del Rey, California, U.S. BIND
C Cogent Communications distributed using anycast BIND
D University of Maryland College Park, Maryland, U.S. BIND
E NASA Mountain View, California, U.S. BIND
F ISC distributed using anycast BIND
G Defense Information Systems Agency Columbus, Ohio, U.S. BIND
H U.S. Army Research Lab Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, U.S. NSD
I Autonomica distributed using anycast BIND
J VeriSign distributed using anycast BIND
K RIPE NCC distributed using anycast NSD
L ICANN Los Angeles, California, U.S. NSD
M WIDE Project distributed using anycast BIND

Older servers had their own name before the policy of using similar names was established.

No more names can be used because of protocol limitations - UDP packet can only carry 512 bytes reliably and a hint file with more than 13 servers would be larger than 512 bytes - but the C, F, I, J, K and M servers now exist in multiple locations on different continents, using anycast announcements to provide a decentralized service. As a result most of the physical, rather than nominal, root servers are now outside the United States.

There are also quite a few alternative namespace systems with their own set of root nameservers that exist in opposition to the mainstream nameservers. The first, AlterNIC, generated a substantial amount of press. See Alternative DNS root for more information.

Root name servers may also be run locally, on provider or other types of networks, synchronized with the US Department of Commerce delegated root zone file as published by ICANN. Such a server is not an alternative root, but a local implementation of A through M.

As the root nameservers function as part of the Internet backbone, they have come under attack several times, although none of the attacks have ever been serious enough to severely hamper the performance of the Internet.

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ISC Installs Root Nameserver in Mexico - 📅 - Internet Systems Consortium (, in conjunction with NIC Mexico, Prodigy Data Center, Avantel and Alestra announced on Monday that it has installed the first root nameserver in Mexico. For the project, NIC Mexico coordinated the efforts to install the server and bandwidth providers Prodigy Data Center, Avantel ...