A DNS Server – An IP Address – And Your Website – How it All Works
How a DNS Server (Domain Name System) Works
In this review, we will discuss what is a DNS server and how a domain name system works. The goal is to help you better understand the background processes that make websites and the internet work. On the internet, computers don’t network with each other using names like humans do.
Humans Use Names – Computers Use Numbers
Computers use numbers. That’s how computers and other similar devices talk and identify with each other over a network. Computers use numbers such as IP addresses. Humans, on the other hand, are accustomed to using names instead of numbers. Whether is talking directly to another person or identifying a country, place, or thing, humans identify with names instead of numbers.
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Turns Your Domain Name Into An IP Address
So in order to bridge the communication gap between computers and humans and make the communication a lot easier networking engineers developed DNS. DNS stands for a domain name system. A DNS server resolves or translates names to numbers. To be more specific a DNS server resolves domain names to IP addresses. So if you type in the web address https://websitehostingstore.com in your web browser, DNS will resolve the name, Website Hosting Store to a number because the only thing computers know are numbers.
For example, when you wanted to visit this website, you opened up your web browser and typed in the domain name of this website, or you clicked on a link somewhere that redirected you to this website. Either way, technically, you really didn’t have to type in websitehostingstore.com to retrieve the Website Hosting Store web page. If you knew the IP address of websitehostingstore.com, you could just type in the IP address, and you would be redirected to this website.
DNS – The Phonebook of the Internet
However, humans are not accustomed to memorizing and dealing with numbers in that way. Furthermore, there are millions of websites on the internet. It’s much easier for us to just type in the domain name instead and let DNS convert it to an IP address for us. So, back to our example, when you type websitehostingstore.com your web browser, the DNS server will search through its database to find a matching IP address for our domain name. When it finds the domain name, it will resolve that domain name to the IP address of the Website Hosting Store web site. Once that is done, your computer is able to communicate with the Website Hosting Store web server and retrieve the web page. So, DNS basically works like a phone book, when you want to find a number, you don’t look up the number first, you look up the name first then it will give you the number.
To break this down even further, let’s examine the steps that DNS takes. First, you type in websitehostingstore.com in your web browser. If your web browser or operating system can’t find the IP address in its own cache (stored) memory, it will send the query to the next level to what is called the resolver server. The resolver server is basically your ISP or Internet service provider (ATT, Comcast Xfinity, Verizon, etc.). When the resolver receives the query, it will check its own cache memory to find an IP address for websitehostingstore.com. If it can’t find websitehostingstore.com, it will send the query to the next level which is the root server.
The root servers are the top or the root of a DNS hierarchy. There are 13 sets of these root servers and they are strategically placed around the world, and they are operated by 12 different organizations and each set of these root servers has their own unique IP address. So when the root server receives the query for the IP address for websitehostingstore.com, the root server is not going to know what the IP address is, but the root server does know where to send the resolver to help it find the IP address.
TLD – Top Level Domain Server
So the root server will direct the resolver to the TLD or top-level domain server for the dot-com domain. The resolver will now ask the TLD server for the IP address for websitehostingstore.com. The top level domain server stores the address information for a top-level domains, such as.com and.net dot org and so on. This particular TLD server manages the dot-com domain which websitehostingstore.com is a part of.
When a TLD server receives the query for the IP address for websitehostingstore.com, the TLD server is not going to know what the IP addresses for yahoo.com. So the TLD will direct the resolver to the next and final level, which are the authoritative name servers. Once again the resolver will now ask the authoritative name server for the IP address for websitehostingstore.com.
Authoritative Name Server
The authoritative name server or servers are responsible for knowing everything about the domain which includes the IP address. They are the final authority. So when the authoritative name server receives the query from the resolver, the name server will respond with the IP address for websitehostingstore.com.
And finally the resolver will tell your computer the IP address for websitehostingstore.com and then your computer can now retrieve the Website Hosting Store web page. It’s important to note that once the resolver receives the IP address, it will store it in its cache memory in case it receives another query for websitehostingstore.com so it doesn’t have to go through all those steps again. You local computer does the same thing and store frequently visited web pages in your computer cache. It is a good idea to clear your local PC cache every few weeks to avoid your computer becoming confused and to keep it operating efficiently.
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