DNS is so vital to our daily operation of the internet, but most of us have no idea we are even taking advantage of it.
What is DNS?
DNS stands for Domain Name System and is necessary because of the disconnect of information processing between man and machine. It is much easier for humans to remember a word or phrase than a string of numbers, which is all that a computer knows. Every domain name, see this post, has an IP address behind it. IP’s drive the internet, and no two are alike. If we did not have DNS, we would have to type the IP of www.kiiff.com every time we wanted to go to it. I don’t know about you , but I have no idea how I would get to any website if I had to type 18.104.22.168, or some similar address, every time I wanted to go somewhere on the internet. Now that we have a grasp on how important DNS servers can be, let’s see how they work.
How DNS Works
When you want to navigate to a website, your computer will send out a request to a DNS server, often one used by your ISP, to request the IP address using that domain. The DNS server will fulfill the request by translating the domain to an IP address to be sent over the internet. Then, you, the user, are navigated to the appropriate site that you requested by name, rather than by IP. The server is a large database with domain names to IP addresses, kind of like an ARP table for any networking savvy folk out there. There are differences, but the principle is very similar. When your DNS server is down, you will know it. First of all, you will probably get a page just like this:
This is telling us that the DNS server could not resolve the name to an IP address. When DNS servers are down, unless you know the IP of where you want to go, you are dead in the water. Sure you can type the IP in your address bar, but good luck remembering the first three sites you want to go to! There are solutions to issues like this, but it is beyond the introductory scope.
This may become a short series about DNS, because entire books have been written on the topic and there is plenty to talk about. As far as working with us, we will take care to make sure something like the above doesn’t happen in the context of your site! This post will be updated to include a part two if it comes down the line, until then, happy searching!
image source: MSDN blogs