What is a Domain Name System and how does it work?

07/19/2021 | by SandStorm IT

What is a Domain Name System

You do it every day. You open up your favorite web browser and type in a website’s address and next thing you know, you’re on your favorite social media site or source of cat videos. But have you ever stopped to wonder what sorcery connects the dot-coms to the right sites?

Well, I have the answer for you: the Domain Name System, or DNS for short. Sometimes called a nameserver.

What is a Domain Name System?

The Domain Name System is comparable to a stack of phone books. In essence, it looks up the site by its domain name(google.com) in the phone book (the local nameserver) and returns a number (the IP address), which is used to identify the computer running the website.

How does the Domain Name System work?

Like the earlier analogy, if you think about Domain Name Systems like a phone book, not all the available numbers are in one book. Sometimes, you need to consult a bigger book.  If it does not know about the site, it will ask another nameserver higher up if it knows the site’s address. If it does not, then that nameserver will ask the next higher and so forth until it finds the site’s address. Or not, in which case your browser will let you know that.

Of course, it’s a little more complicated than a phone book, but it also has more features than just finding a website. The DNS can be harnessed to route email and voice traffic, fight spam, or even look up who is responsible for a site’s domain. And like the internet itself, the whole System is decentralized. This means that anyone can set up their own nameserver and start directing traffic on their network, much like an office phone system with a primary number and numerous extensions. Such a private nameserver can be useful for naming a local printer so you do not have to remember it’s network address or worry about it being connected to the Internet.

If you have any questions about DNS or any other technology-related concerns, give SandStorm IT a call at (901) 475-0275, and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can!

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