How The Domain Name System Works

The DNS or Domain Name System is what allows the Internet to work in general. It governs how computers, services, and so on are named either on the internet at large, or on private networks. In particular, the domain name system translates names that are easily memorized into the number based IP addresses that are easier for computers to work with overall.

Types of Servers: Authoritative Content Servers

There are some DNS servers that directly translate names like into their IP address number equivalents, but this isn’t the entire story. There are actually two different types of services that a DNS server provides. The first is the content service. A content server contains records that actually have all of the information about a site. For example, it might contain information about how the name refers to the particular number combination assigned to it. It will also provide instructions about how computers should handle this information, such as making it so that email coming in that’s addressed to a particular domain name should send the email to the particular number-based IP address associated with the domain.  It will also have information that goes in the other direction too, starting with an IP address and identifying the website attached to it.

The information is an authoritative DNS record because it’s coming directly from the source. The person who runs the server is stating that the name and number being put out based on the global naming system is actually correct when other computers ask for this information. This will govern a particular domain set. Sometimes a server won’t have the authoritative information that another computer is asking for, but knows where that information can be found, and so it will give that computer a referral to the right server.

Types of Servers: Resolving Servers

In contrast, the point of a resolving server is to search for information. Instead of providing data, a resolving server looks for it.  Sometimes people call a resolving server a “DNS Cache” because these servers have looked for the same information before and will often remember DNS information so they don’t have to hunt around for it again.  Large organizations tend to maintain their own resolving servers in order to speed up the process of resolving DNS queries. Having one server handle this makes it easier for a lot of Internet applications to just ask the one question and then get an answer right away.

What Happens When You Type in an Address

When you type in a domain like into your browser, the first thing that happens is that your browser asks the local resolving DNS server if it knows the IP for or some other address and how to get there. If the local Resolving DNS server doesn’t know where the address is, it will ask another server that probably will. An example of a common place to go is the root servers. There are 13 of them maintained globally, and they are put out by the company in the U.S. called ICANN. The root server, which runs similar to a resolving server might not know, so it refers over to an address that might know based on the particular query. For example, if the site being asked about is in the U.K., maybe it will refer to a server that knows about UK servers. This can happen a few times in a row until finally the resolving server gets an answer from an authoritative content server. Now it’s more certain that the right answer has been achieved, and the web browser can navigate to the site.

Overall, domains are important, and the domain system reflects this with both its efficiency and redundancy. That’s why it’s important to get exactly the domain that you want by using 1&1 domain checker or a different similar service to find domains with good reputations.

Guest author Charlie Oszvald is an online marketing enthusiast who spends most of his time online and loves to share his thoughts and articles on various channels in topics related to business, social media, marketing and SEO. If you have any question to ask from him, feel free to leave a comment below.

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