Technology News, Tips and Tricks

What Is a DNS? Everything You Need to Know

The internet makes up a hefty part of most of our lives. There are an astronomical 332 million people online it is estimated today, sending emails, watching videos, or running their businesses. 

Yet for something that we depend upon so greatly, how the internet works is a mystery to many of us. We type in where we want to go, or what we want to watch and listen to and take for granted that within a few milliseconds it will appear on our screens.

But how does it actually work? 

One pillar of the process is DNS. What is a DNS you ask? Well, keep on reading as we give you all you need to know about how you got to this page in the first place.


What Is a DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System and essentially gives names to where pages are online. This is necessary because of how computers and any online device speak to each other. 

To understand how the internet works, when you are sat in front of your computer imagine instead that you are in a taxi. When you type in your address you are telling your driver where you want to go, or what you want to see. When typing in the address, however, your computer is processing the information in number form.

In fact, the words that we give to these addresses are the basis of the DNS system, essentially making the computer language literate for us to understand.  

The Different Stages of DNS

Everything online has a specific location, including you. Yet when you type where you want to go there is no guarantee that your “taxi driver” knows where to find that information. It first needs to visit its own DNS records. 

What is a DNS record?

Think of it as an address book that is kept by the various servers. The DNS system’s first port of call is your device’s own DNS record, its “cache”, a temporary list of addresses of where you have been. So if you have visited Google recently it doesn’t need to call a friend before getting the engine running, it already knows where to find it. 

But what if it doesn’t know? 

Then it reaches out to a root nameserver, one that may not know the location, but knows a friend who does. This friend is the TLD nameserver. These top-level domain servers hold references to popular domains such as .com or .org meaning that they know which servers have the specific location.

They then send the request to the authoritative name server the manager of the domain with a large internal cache. If it exists, it will know exactly where it is and send the info back to your device who asked for the location. 

The fact that this all happens so quickly is a credit to how far we have come, but there can be delays.

Your IP address provider usually has their own DNS server which can answer back quickly due to so many people on their network visiting various sites throughout the day. But they can be vulnerable to lags in time and attacks. If you have a business you may be interested in seeking out a reliable alternative.

See more here to find out about your options.

DNS: Your Pathway to Where You Want to Go

So what is a DNS? Simply put it is a way of logging the locations of everything on the internet. As with all good processes you should never even need to notice it.

But now that you know, we’re sure it would appreciate a thank you under your breath the next time you press enter on a search. Even if no one around you understands why your computer will!

We hope you enjoyed this breakdown. For more great tech insights please be sure to check out the other content on our site. 

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