I have a domain that once you perform a dig mx on it, it returns a set of name servers in the authority section that look like the list below. And yet, when I perform a whois check on it, it returns a completely different set of nameserver records. What are the possible circumstances that could lead to this discrepancy? So far all I can think of is a recent redelegation in name servers had occurred (and the change hasn't been fully propagated yet) or or the domain had expired or been transferred between registrars, and neither of these things seem to have occurred.

;; AUTHORITY SECTION: com.au. 78300 IN NS w.au. com.au. 78300 IN NS x.au. com.au. 78300 IN NS y.au. com.au. 78300 IN NS z.au.


The authoritative name servers for a domain is listed in two places:

  • in the top level domain name servers (in this case, the root servers for .au.)
  • in the domain's zone file

When you use whois, it's the TLD name servers that issue the response. When you use dig, the response comes from a query to the name servers pointed out by the TLD name servers.

When you change name serves for a domain, you need to update both your own zone file and the top level domain's data. Otherwise you'll end up in this situation, where they don't agree - which may end up making your zone inaccessible.

You can check that the delegation and zone match by running your domain through DNScheck - it's a service provided by the Swedish domain name registry but it works for any domain regardless of what TLD it's in.

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