Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA)

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Authoritative and Recursive DNS Servers: What’s The Difference?

It is obvious the Domain Name System (DNS) is one of the most essential parts of the Internet’s infrastructure. The Domain Name System (DNS) comprises of two parts: Authoritative and Recursive Name Servers. The authoritative nameserver and recursive nameserver are important nameservers that enable DNS run seamlessly and actually respond to domain name request.

By using DNS, you can connect to a website like without having to know the website’s IP address. The Authoritative DNS system provides resources of the zone whilst the Recursive DNS holds information of the host for a given amount of time specified by that Records Time To Live (TTL) value.

Authoritative DNS nameservers are responsible for providing answers to requests made by other DNS nameservers (Recursive Servers) with the IP “mapping” of the intended website. The authoritative nameservers’ simply respond to the recursive nameservers contains important information for each domain, such as corresponding IP addresses and other necessary DNS records. Essentially authoritative nameservers are like the name mapping database, that is, it contains relationship existing between a registered domain name and it corresponding IP address.

Recursive nameservers are the intermediary that respond to domain requests. It provides answer to the request if it has cached earlier, else it proceeds to the authoritative server. The caching of the name are based on the default time to live (TTL)

At the top of the DNS tree are the root domain nameservers. Every domain has an implied/hidden “.” at the end of the name, that designates the DNS root nameservers at the top of the hierarchy. Root domain nameservers know the IP addresses of the authoritative nameservers that handle DNS queries for the Top Level Domains (TLD) like “.ng”. It first asks the root domain nameservers for the IP address of the TLD server, in this case, “.ng.” (working on

Afterwards it asks the authoritative server for “”, where it can find the “” domain’s authoritative server. Then “” is asked where to find “”. Once the IP address is known for the website the recursive DNS server responds to your computer with the appropriate IP address.


What makes a good domain name important is that it is the face of your business to the online world. It is on your business cards, email addresses, and it is your response when posed with the question “do you have a website?” It is also the name that would be associated with the lifespan of your business. The names used to launch the apps that facilitate and encourage online businesses.

Choosing the perfect and great domain name for your website is like choosing the best and perfect name for your child.  It is associated with you for life.

Having a good domain name is equivalent to having a nice sign board at the front of your office building/store, announcing your business to the world. Having an attractive domain name is to the benefit of your business. It announces/introduces your business online in so many ways. It gives people an idea of your type/brand of business. The domain name must be memorable, good for creating email addresses but most importantly with social media marketing you can be easily noticed in the digital space.

The value of a domain name starts from the conception of the name. The domain name needs to be created around words that will attract traffic,  generate intrigue and interest around the Internet when it is mentioned in conversations on the web.

The following tips can be used to create/choose a domain name for your website. There are 5 elements to a website domain name, that will mar or break it.

  • Traffic: How many people are searching for the target words or phrase?
  • Memorable: How hard is it to remember the domain?
  • Easy: Can people easily get there?
  • Eye-Catching: When people see your domain name, will they be tempted to click?
  • Relevant: Do the words in your domain accurately describe the site?

After taking into consideration the above five key elements, another very important element is the availability of the domain name. You have to check for the availability of the domain name. For example you can check availability of .ng domain names via the link (  You should note that .ng offers a lot of interesting name strings. To learn more about .ng ccTLD, visit the NiRA website


There are many terminologies in the domain name industry. For better understanding of the industry, we have put together an explanation of the basic domain name terminologies.

Administrative Contact: Person or organization authorized by the registrant to make changes to the domain name details.

The African Network Information Center (AFRINIC) is the Regional Internet Registry (RIR) and a not-for profit membership organisation responsible for the administration and management of Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses in the Africa Region.

Africa Top Level Domain (AFTLD), the association of African ccTLDs, is a non-profit organisation of domain registry operators in Africa for unity and co-operation.

Billing Contact: Person or organization that is invoiced for the domain name registration and/or renewals.

ccTLD: Country Code Top Level Domain is TLD assigned to countries derived from their two letter representation. Nigeria is .ng ccTLD.

Domain Name (i.e. is the user friendly name (memorable for humans) associated with an Internet resource, assigned to an IP address. This name can only be approved and administered by an approved authority, i.e., .ng Registry. Sub-domain(s) and email address (es) can be created, using it as a suffix.

Domain Name System is the networking system that helps users find their way around the Internet; assigns web addresses (string of letters/characters) to be used in place of the IP addresses.

Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) is simply domain names created with native language characters.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an international organisation, not-for-profit that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management and root server system management functions.

Name Server is a specialized server on the Internet that handles queries or questions, by various programs and other name servers, that converts domain names to IP Addresses.

NiRA Dispute Resolution Policy (NDRP) derived from ICANN UDRP and composed to benefit the Nigerian domain industry.

NiRA Policy Development Process (PDP): process by which NiRA develops policies, which is available for all stakeholders to make contributions.

Queries per Second (QPS), is the unit of measurement used to know how many queries a DNS server receives.

Redemption Grace Period (RGP) is the period after the expiry date of the domain name when the registrant is given extra days to be able to renew the domain name. In some cases the domain name is rendered inactive but unavailable to be taken by another registrant and it may also be active till end of the period but the number of days taken from the period is counted into duration renewed for. For the NiRA domain life cycle, click on

Registrant is the owner of one or more domain name(s).

Registrar is the person or organization through whose platform the registrant registers the domain names.

Registry is the organisation managing and administering the TLD/ccTLD/gTLD. The authoritative, master database of all domain names registered in each TLD. NiRA is the Registry for the .ng ccTLD.

Registry Lock is a security measure that protects a domain from attacks like DNS hijacking. The domain is locked at the registry level so series of processes and verification of proper authorized contact for the domain name would be required to access/modify anything.

Reseller is a third party who offers domain name registration services through a registrar.

Root Servers is simply the network of servers stationed at various locations for quick and easy data access; they contain the IP Addresses of all TLDs registry organisations (gTLDs and ccTLDs) worldwide.  There are 13 named server authorities and these are the authoritative servers of the DNS root zone.

Secondary DNS Server is the slave of the primary DNS server. It stores/contains the same information/data of the zone file on the primary DNS server but as a read only copy. It offers back-up service for the master, the primary DNS server and shares in its workload.

Single Point of Failure (SPOF) indicates that a domain has and depends on only network or a service provider to handle all its DNS. This is only suitable for low-traffic domains but very unsuitable for high traffic as it is most likely to deter its uptime rate.

Start of Authority (SOA) Record is the first record created in a zone file. It contains the serial number and how name servers get the information.

Technical Contact: Person or organization that maintains the domain name registrant’s primary name server.

Thick/Thin Registry is about quantum of information displayed on Whois for a domain name. A Thick Registry displays registrant information, administrative and technical contacts, registrar, registration/expiry dates, registration status, delegated name servers. A Thin Registry displays less information limiting it to registration status, registration/expiry date, registrar and the name servers. NiRA runs a Thick Registry.

Time To Live (TTL) is time specified for a server to cache DNS information to stay in the cache before it leaves it. This duration is set by the domain owner.

TLD: Top Level Domain, is the last label of a fully qualified domain name (FQDN), being the highest domain level in DNS. Administrators of TLDs control names which are registered at the second level in that TLD.

Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is a collection of protocols used to connect devices/machines to the internet or local networks. This carries out error-checking and also serves packet orderly.

Unicast Name Server is a name server with one network destination.

Uniform Domain-Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) is an ICANN policy for resolution of disputes on the registration of domain names.

User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is a collection of protocols used to connect to the Internet using applications. This is a faster protocol than TCP as it doesn't carry out error-checking but serves packet data in order.

Whois is used to search for domain name availability and domain name information. It can show the time the domain was registered, who registered it, expiry date, name servers used and security status. is NiRA’s whois search engine.

Whois Accuracy Program (WAP) is a verification program that will demand that the registrant details be proved authentic and not responding/verifying the details within the given time will lead to DNS suspension until fully verified.

Whois Data Reminder Policy (WDRP) is a reminder to registrants that providing false information in the Whois record can lead to cancellation of their domain name registration. On discovery of false or inexistent details especially contact details the WAP process is triggered.

Zone File is a file that contains the information of services under a domain name like e-mail, website, servers responsible for the services and subdomains.


By Joshua James, a Student of Department of Mathematical Science & IT, B.Sc Computer Science & IT

Federal University, Dutsinma, Katsina State, Nigeria


Considering the growth of the Internet in Nigeria and the world in general, many organizations desire to develop their online presence. Therefore, they create and implement websites in pursuit of this. In a recent trip to the Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA), the need for corporate organizations to implement and incorporate the use of the dot NG as part of their domain name was highlighted. In my little research for this article I found out that even Chinese whose names end with .ng are coming to NiRA for a .Ng domain name.

What is a domain name?

domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet. Domain names are formed by the rules and procedures of the Domain Name System (DNS). Any name registered in the DNS is a domain name. Domain name can also be thought of as a location where certain information or activities can be found. In general, a domain name represents an Internet Protocol (IP) resource, such as a personal computer used to access the Internet, a server computer hosting a website, or the website itself or any other service communicated via the Internet.

Domain names are organized in subordinate levels (sub domains) of the DNS root domain, which is nameless. The first-level set of domain names are the top-level domains (TLDs), including the generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), such as the prominent domains .com, .info, .net, .edu, and .org, and the country code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) of which our .ng falls into.

The .ng ccTLD            

 ng is the acronym assigned to Nigeria by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). As such we can say that .ng is the Flag of Nigeria & its unique identity on the cyberspace. Furthermore, the birth of NiRA by NITDA has helped to put the Nigerian “FLAG” on the Internet. Every true Nigerian business in the Government sector or in private sector is expected to switch their domain names to the .ng and fly the flag of Nigeria in cyberspace.

The benefits

The benefits are many and include:

  • Security: increases the confidence of people doing business with you as a Nigerian organization.
  • Reduction of capital flight.
  • Opportunity to brand online your products, services, brand, etc
  • Revenue generation.
  • Promoting local content and creating employment opportunities for entrepreneurs.
  • Gives room for simplicity: Allows you to maintain a short and easy way to remember domain names.
  • Higher Ranking on Search Engines i.e.
  • Develop Nigeria's ICT infrastructure.

In Conclusion

In a nutshell, Nigeria Internet Registration Association (NiRA) has renewed its bid to ensure more Nigerians and organizations register and host their online presence on the .ng domain platform, which is our unique identity in the cyberspace. Are you proud of being called a Nigerian?  Increase our global presence in the cyberspace by using the .ng domain name. Let us enforce the “get your .ng domain name” campaign so as to advertise our uniqueness.