The internet is a boon for our generation and works amazingly to make our lives easier. In the case of search engines, there are various technologies and systems used in the background to bring a website live on the internet. If you are a new website owner, you must know the fundamentals of how your web page loads and becomes viewable to your visitors. As a webmaster, understanding the basics of how your website operates can help you troubleshoot issues and optimize your site.
What is the purpose of DNS?
With countless websites available on the internet, it is necessary to have unique identification. From typing a website URL on the web browser to displaying pages of that website, various internal steps are carried out to complete the process. A domain name system (DNS) is a protocol that translates a domain name into a language understandable to the computer called IP Address. This translation process is called DNS resolution. Without DNS, we would have been still remembering IP Addresses for all the websites we need. This translation makes the computer understand the domains and helps us reach our desired destination on the internet. There are four servers involved in the DNS protocol, DNS precursor, root name server, TLD name server, and authoritative name server.
Key terms – one must know!
Before we head into the domain name system, let us understand key terms interconnected with DNS.
IP Address: An internet protocol address (IP Address) is a string of four decimal numbers separated by periods(.) The numbers in this set can range from a scale of 0 to 255. The IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), a division of the non-profit organization called ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), generates these addresses. Examples of this IP Address include 188.8.131.52.
Domain Names: IP Addresses are used to access any website. With innumerable web pages all over the internet, remembering IP Addresses for every website was a complicated task. To ease this process, mapping domain names to the website’s IP Address came into the picture. This name acts as an identification tool for the website. It allows users to find the website on the internet easily.
Nameservers: Nameservers are an integral part of the database, called the domain name system (DNS). It acts as a directory for devices and IP addresses. Nameservers utilize this information for translating domain names into numerical IP addresses. For example, if guidefordns.com is your name server, you can use custom name servers such as ns1.guidefordns.com and ns2.guidefordns.com. There can be multiple nameservers for a single domain. However, most websites have two nameservers. The first one is the primary DNS, and the other one is kept for backup to prevent the website from going offline.
How does the DNS work?
Let us understand the working of DNS lookup in 5 simple steps:
- A user wants to visit the website mydns.com. After typing ‘mydns.com’ on the web browser, a query gets generated on the internet, which a DNS recursive resolver receives. This resolver queries the DNS root name server.
- The root server sends a response to the resolver with a TLD DNS server such as .com or .net. It is where the information gets stored for its domains. i.e., since we are searching for mydns.com, our request is pointed towards the .com TLD.
- Then a request is made by the resolver to the .com TLD. And in response, the TLD servers send the IP Address of the domain nameserver, mydns.com. After this, the recursive resolver raises the query to the domain name server. The IP Address for mydns.com then returns to the resolver from the domain nameserver.
- Like .com, there are many other gTLDs, nTLDs and ccTLDs. One can register domain names from any such extensions/TLDs.
- In response, the DNS resolver sends the web browser with the IP address of mydns.com. After this step, the browser becomes able to request the web browser. So, it makes an HTTP request to the IP Address.
- The server at that IP Address returns with the webpage shown on the browser.
To sum up!
This article helps you get a fair idea about the domain name system. DNS helps to connect the IP addresses of websites with their linked domain names. And then users view them in the browser. One can access websites from all over the globe because of this DNS protocol. To be specific, DNS is the backbone of the internet!