If you have ever tried to buy a domain name and create a website, you have probably heard the term DNS used over and over again and you’re probably wondering what it is and what it has to do with websites. If that’s the case, then you have come to the right place because the following is a simple explanation of the Domain Name System (DNS) and how it works.
Internet Protocol (IP) Addresses
In order to understand what DNS is, you have to know what an Internet Protocol (IP) Address is, which is another term you’ve probably heard a lot on the Internet. An IP address is a numerical sequence that looks something like this 192.168.0.0 and is assigned to websites and web servers around the world. The IP address is what your computer actually uses to find the websites that you’re looking for. For example, you could type any of the following IP addresses directly into your browser’s address bar to go to the following sites:
Before DNS was created, the way to get to sites on the Internet was by typing in the IP Address manually, which worked okay when there were only a limited number of computers connected together. As that number grew, however, it became harder and harder to keep track of all the IP Addresses so in 1983, Paul V. Mockapetris came up with the Domain Name System or DNS.
What is the Domain Name System (DNS)
The Domain Name System is just a way for a computer to find the IP Address of website names by asking DNS servers around the Internet if they know where the website is located. When you buy a domain and set up your hosting account you will be given the DNS server address (something like ns.yourhostingcompany.com) which will be the authority on where that website is actually located. You will give your domain name company the address of that DNS server, so that when computers around the Internet start asking where a website is located, they will point back to your hosting company, which owns the IP Address of the server where your website is located. Because of DNS, domain names were made available for businesses, organizations and individuals to purchase as addresses for their websites. While, technically, you can host a website using only an IP address, but practically a domain name like www.yourbusiness.com is much easier to use than trying to get people to remember or type in an IP Address. So, now, when you see a reference to DNS, you’ll understand that it’s just a web address to make your website easier to identify and find.