A top-level domain (TLD) server is a Domain Name System (DNS) nameserver that keeps all the information for all domain names that share a common domain extension. As such, the .com TLD nameserver contains all the data related to all the .com domains. If you want to access facebook[.]com, therefore, your browser needs to contact the .com TLD server.
A TLD server is only one of four kinds of DNS servers that your browser contacts to take you to your desired website, though. Your browser sometimes has to contact all four servers—a recursive resolver, a root nameserver, a TLD nameserver, and an authoritative nameserver—to complete requests.
Read More about “TLD Server”
Before you can learn more about a TLD server, you must first understand what the DNS is.
The DNS is essentially the Internet’s phone book, which turns domain names (the website addresses you type into your browser) into IP addresses. So why does it need to do that?
You see, unlike us who find it easier to remember names instead of numbers, computers work the other way. In fact, we can say that they don’t even understand words as we do. So they need a translator, which is the DNS.
How Does a TLD Server Work?
As we said earlier, a TLD server works in combination with the three other DNS server types to take us to sites we want to visit. The diagram below shows how.
When you type a website link into your browser, such as https://www[.]facebook[.]com, it passes through the DNS resolver, which acts as a middleman between your computer and the other three DNS servers.
The DNS resolver first contacts a root nameserver to find out what TLD the domain name uses. Once obtained, your request gets passed on to the .com TLD server. After that, the .com TLD nameserver contacts the facebook authoritative nameserver, which translates the domain name into an IP address. That information gets sent to your computer, and the site opens. All these happen in seconds.
What Are the Primary Types of TLDs TLD Servers Contain?
There are five main TLD types, namely:
- Infrastructure TLD: This group has only one member—.arpa. The TLD is solely used for Internet architecture purposes.
- gTLDs: These are, as their name suggests, generic, meaning they don’t identify with a specific location but rather to the domain’s intended function. .com, for instance, is meant for sites whose primary goal is communication. This category is further subdivided into two—old and new. Very few are considered old, seven to be exact—.com, .org, .net, .int, .edu, .gov, and .mil. As of 2014, meanwhile, there were 605 new gTLDs, a number that keeps growing over time.
- Sponsored TLDs: These are specialized TLDs that only specific organizations can use. An example would be .aero, which is reserved for the sole use of SITA members.
- ccTLDs: These are typically owned by the countries or territories they represent. .us, for instance, is administered by the U.S. government.
- Test TLDs (tTLDs): These are meant solely for software testing. As such, you’re not bound to see any site hosted on such domains.
What Are the Different Kinds of TLD Servers?
There are as many TLD nameservers as there are TLDs. At present, that number totals 1,514, according to the overall domain name and IP address administrator, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). A specific entity administers each TLD nameserver. Note, though, that some administrators manage more than one TLD. An example would be Verisign that handles .com, .net, .edu, .gov,
Here are some of the TLD servers, along with their administrators.
|.com||Verisign||.org||Public Interest Registry|
|.net||Verisign||.int||Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)|
|.edu||Educause (via Verisign)||.gov||Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (via Verisign)|
|.mil||U.S. Department of Defense||.ac||Ascension Island (U.K.)|
|.ba||Bosnia and Herzegovina||.ca||Canada|
|.la||Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR)||.ma||Morocco|
|.re||Réunion (France)||.sa||Saudi Arabia|
|.tc||Turks and Caicos Islands (U.K.)||.ua||Ukraine|
|.va||Vatican City||.wf||Wallis and Futuna|
There are a lot more, of course. You can see the remaining country-code TLD (ccTLD) nameservers here with their administrators.
If you have a website, then you now know which TLD server is responsible for directing users to it.