Domain Name Servers (DNS) are the Internet equivalent of a phone book or a contact list, and this directory of domain names which are translated to IP addresses is necessary for communication between computers. The DNS provides the matching names of a website to the numbers or the actual address of the website. The names are domain names and the numbers are in fact IP addresses.
A Domain Name System is, to put it plain and simple, one of the key foundations of the Internet, used by everyone – even though people may not realize it. All of the info containing domain name servers from all over the world is available at the Central Registry, and domain name servers are also updated regularly.
This correspondence between domain names and IP numbers is essentially a system that makes things more convenient for Internet users – we’ll all agree that remembering names is so much easier than remembering different sets of numbers.
So, for instance, if you type in a web address (e.g. www.mechanicalengineering.com) your Internet Provider will look at the DNS, which is connected to the domain name and translate it into an IP address. The IP address the domain was converted to is computer-friendly, and it directs you to the right website available to you through an online connection.
An In-Depth Look at Domain Name Servers
The DNS directory isn’t a single directory which is located in one place, but rather it’s something that’s spread globally, on different domain servers. You can get all the statistics and details concerning DNS at StatDNS. Anyways, what is just as crucial is the fact that these servers update their information and communicate with each other daily. This type of distribution of the directory allows you to get to the website you are searching for faster.
When you search and register your domain name for the first time your domain will be pointing to the hosts default DNS records. You can update this and point it wherever you want to which means you can actually host your website somewhere else, it doesn’t have to be where you registered it.
Did you know that each site can correspond to different IP addresses? This is so because of the different location of the user which is getting to the website. Therefore, a person from the UK who is typing in to reach Google will be served by another server than a person from the US doing the same exact thing. There are many sites like this that have domain names matching more than a hundred of IP addresses.
Apart from the fact, the directory is shared between different servers so it’s more efficient and provides faster results, it’s also cached locally on computers. For instance, you probably use www.google.com many times a day. This information is saved on your computer, which allows your computer to reach the DNS name server without having to search for the IP address every single time. With the help of cache, reaching the DNS in order to match the domain name and IP address won’t overload the provider.
How Is Your Request Processed?
First of all, you have to understand that DNS has a certain hierarchy, and it’s enacted every time you type in the domain name into the browser. In order to help you understand how your request is being processed, we have broken down your request “journey” into several steps.
- For instance, typing in www.mechanicalengineering.com is a request that’s first taken by the server, called a recursive resolver. This type of server is operated by a third-party hosting provider. The recursive resolver knows which servers to hit up to find the matching IP address for the domain name typed into the browser for this particular example.
- After this initial step, the request reaches the root server, a server that contains all the information about top-level and country domains. Root servers are located throughout the globe and you reach the one closest to you.
- When it has reached the root server, your request is redirected to the top-level domain name server in charge of saving the name of the website before the .com addition, for the second-level domain.
- The last step is when your request reaches the Domain Name Server (DNS) which holds the website information for both the domain name and its IP address. Then the IP address is sent back to the client, who can use it again and again to visit the website.
This process is so quick, it just takes seconds to be completed – which speaks to the power of this technology we take for granted.
To sum up, online requests have to reach Domain Name Servers (DNS to match the domain name of the website the user is trying to get to with the IP address of the website. This directory of names and numbers is situated globally on different servers that communicate with each other and, that way, keep everything up to date. The process behind a request reaching a certain website happens through several servers: a recursive resolver, a root server, top-level domain (TLD), name server, second-level domain, and domain name server. This complex process takes just a few seconds.