When we need to visit a website, we just type the website URL into the browser. But do we know how it presents the website on the screen for us? There is a process called DNS aka Domain Name System that works to get the job done. It bridges the gap between humans and computers and serves the queries humans ask. Today, we will dive deep into DNS and know what it is, and how it works.
By the time you’re done reading this article, you will be able to understand what DNS is, and how it works to present websites on your computer screen. Without further ado, let’s begin.
What is DNS (Domain Name System)?
Domain Name System aka DNS is a system to convert alphabetic domain names to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. People access websites by typing domain names like www.example.com into a browser. DNS converts these domain names into IP addresses so that browsers can load websites and display the information you are looking for.
All of the devices connected to the internet have unique IP addresses to communicate and access each other. IP addresses function like street addresses. They identify where computers are located on the internet and help them interact.
DNS (Domain Name System) relieves people off memorizing the IP addresses and lets them access websites just with human-friendly domain names like www.virfice.com.
How DNS Works?
Computers don’t have names like humans. Instead of names, they have unique IP addresses. DNS bridges between humans and computers. DNS helps people find websites with their names instead of IP addresses. If you type a website URL into a web browser, DNS translates that to an IP address and takes you there.
Let’s be more specific. Each website has an IP address. Such as to access a particular website, we can type an IP address in the browser to visit that website. Since humans are not accustomed to remembering such numeric or alphanumeric IP addresses, DNS help humans go by the human-friendly names like www.virfice.com and convert that into IP addresses for the computers.
DNS works like a phonebook. When you look for a particular number, you don’t search for the number. You look for the name that the number is saved under.
The DNS works with the 4 servers to present the requested web address on the computer screen. When someone types an URL address into the browser, the browser checks its cache memory first. If it is not there it goes all the way to Authoritative Name Server through Resolver, Root server, and TLD server to retrieve the website.
The resolver server is at the beginning of the DNS process. It is your Internet Service Provider aka ISP. This is a server designed to receive queries from the computers through applications such as web browsers. The DNS resolver increases the efficiency of a DNS process. Without a resolver in between, every computer on the network would need to have access to the addresses of several authoritative nameservers to retrieve the addresses.
The root servers are at the top of the DNS hierarchy. There are 13 sets of root servers strategically placed around the world and operated by 12 different organizations. Each set of these root servers has its unique IP addresses. The root server does not know what the website’s IP address is. It directs the resolver to the TLD server.
The TLD stands for Top Level Domain. TLD server stores information about the top-level domains such as .com, .net. Etc. To be more specific, it hosts the last portion of a hostname (Such as, in site.net, the TLD server is “net”). But TLD does not know the website IP address either. TLD directs the resolver to the authoritative name server.
Authoritative Name Server
The authoritative name server knows everything about your domain. They are the final authority. They know the IP address. The name server provides resolver the IP address.
Resolver takes the IP address and tells your computer about it to retrieve website information.
DNS in Brief:
Imagine your computer browser is a random guy who needs a book from a library. The librarian or the bookkeeper is the DNS resolver who receives the initial queries. A root server is a complete catalog that points to different racks of the books. TLD server is the racks of books with .com, .net and other types. An authoritative name server is a particular rack where the book resides.
Without DNS, the internet would not exist. If you are someone who wanted a clearer understanding of the DNS process, I hope this article quench your thirst. We tried to make it as clear as possible. Please do leave your thoughts in the comments.