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What is a DNS?

by | Oct 22, 2021 | Domain Name Blog

You probably already know that the Domain Name System (DNS) is a vital part of the internet. You might have heard that it makes it possible to visit websites, simply by typing an address into your browser.

But what is a DNS and how does it work?

In this article, we’ll explain the domain name system in easy-to-understand terms.

What is a Domain Name System Important?

When devices send data to each other over a network, they need to know where to send that data. In simple terms, they need an address to send it to, just like you’d write an address on an envelope before sending a letter.

The addresses used by computers and other devices are called Internet Protocol addresses. (IP addresses, for short). IP addresses are used on small home networks and large corporate networks. They’re also used on the internet – the largest computer network of all.

The problem is, IP addresses aren’t very pretty to look at. They’re made up of long strings of numbers. For example,

That’s fine for computers, but most people have a hard time remembering long, random strings of numbers. Luckily, this is where the domain name system comes in.

The Domain Name System Explained

The DNS is a lot like a giant directory for the internet. It translates those hard-to-remember IP addresses into easy-to-remember domain names (aka website addresses). It also works the other way around.

So, whenever you type a website’s domain name into your web browser, a DNS server translates the domain name into an IP address. Hey presto, your device can now communicate with the right web server, and the website will open in your browser.

How to Find Your DNS

If you have a website, you might want to know how to find your DNS. This is simple enough. It only takes a minute and you can use a number of free online tools.

Simply enter the domain name in the search box, then scroll down until you reach the section called ‘Name Servers’. These are the DNS servers used by your website.

You can also look up details of your website’s DNS servers through your web hosting control panel. This process can be a little different depending on who hosts your website and which control panel you’re using.

You can use the Whois tools above to run a DNS lookup for any website. It doesn’t matter who your web host is. It doesn’t matter which control panel you use. The website doesn’t even have to be your own.

Not What You’re Looking For?

We’ve focused on the DNS servers used by websites. But you might want to find out which name servers you use to access the internet from home. You might even want to switch from your internet service provider’s default name servers. (This can sometimes help boost your internet speed a little.)

This article from PCMag explains how to change your DNS server.

Want to Find Out More?

We’ve answered the question we began with, and provided a simple guide to the domain name system. Now, if anyone asks you ‘what is a DNS’, you’ll be able to fill them in on the basics.

But we also understand that you might want to take a deeper dive and learn more about all the ‘techy’ bits. If so, why not explore the Wikipedia article on the domain name system?

For more great guides to all things tech and internet related, stay tuned to the blog.