While on the surface, you simply enter a domain name in your browser’s address bar to access a website, there is a complex system behind it. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the technical infrastructure of domain names that enables access to various services such as websites, email, video conferencing, database connections, and more. It serves as the backbone of Internet navigation.
The Domain Name
A domain name is a string of characters that identifies an entity on the Internet. It typically consists of two main parts: the domain name itself and the Top-Level Domain (TLD), such as .com, .org, .net, etc. A domain name functions as an address, allowing users to easily find websites and online services. For example, “www.example.com” is a domain name composed of its name and extension. A domain name is much easier to remember than the numerical IP addresses computers use to identify themselves on the network.
For more details on the domain name, refer to this article.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is like the Internet’s address book. It takes the domain name you enter in your browser and translates it into an IP address (Internet Protocol), which is a unique number that identifies each computer connected to the Internet. It consists of number sequences used to identify computers on a network. For instance, when you type “www.example.com” in your browser, the DNS translates that domain name into an IP address like “192.0.2.1,” which identifies the server hosting the website.
Each domain name has a set of associated DNS servers, called name servers, that maintain a record of these mappings between domain names and IP addresses. When a browser requests to resolve a domain name, it queries these name servers to obtain the corresponding IP address.
The term “server” refers to a computer or system that provides resources, data, services, or programs to other computers, called “clients.” In the context of the web, a web server hosts websites and “serves” them to requesting clients. When your computer connects to the web server, it requests the page you want to see, and the server sends back the corresponding files. Imagine your computer taking a taxi (the IP address) to a house (the server) where the party (the website) is happening!
For the DNS to perform its task correctly, it follows a set of “rules” known as DNS records. These rules are stored on servers and indicate where the DNS can find specific information for a particular domain name. There are several types of DNS records, but the most common are the A record, which points a domain name to an IP address, and the MX record, which specifies the mail server for the domain name. The DNS record can indicate where the associated website for that domain name is located or where to send emails addressed to that domain name.
To learn more about DNS, consult the Wikipedia page.