A DNS (Domain Name System) server is a type of web server used to interact with the domain name system, which is the global directory of domain names and corresponding IP addresses. DNS technology automatically translates long and confusing IP address (which are segmented number sequences separated by dots, such as 127.0.0.1) into standard domain names that are easier to remember.
The domain name system is comprised of thousands of domain name servers around the world, which accumulatively make up the largest digital database on the planet. DNS servers operate using special software that transmits data from the DNS server to various web hosts upon request.
In basic terms, the internet would fail to exist as we know it without the Domain Name System and DNS servers.
What is a DNS Root Server?
DNS root servers are the base of the domain name system, communicating only with each other using private network encryption protocols. These web servers are at the top of the internet hierarchy, storing all information related to a domain name and its IP address.
There are only 13 root servers in the entire world, each one labeled a letter of the alphabet, up to M. Ten of these crucial servers are located within the United States, with one in London, one in Japan, and one in Sweden.
What is the DNS Hierarchy?
The domain name system is operated in a hierarchy that keeps the domain name database separate, and the only servers that house the entire database are the aforementioned DNS root servers. The rest of the DNS servers in the world house only fragments of the database for particular web hosts and web sites. Most of these low level DNS servers are owned by Internet Service Providers or private businesses.
When you browse a web site, your web browser is actually directly communicating with your ISP’s DNS server to retrieve data from other domains before displaying it on your screen. In some cases, the DNS server will not need to communicate with another server to display the page; however, in many cases, especially when you visit a foreign or private web page, your ISP’s DNS server will have to act as a DNS client and retrieve data from another DNS server.
Your Connection to DNS Servers
Every computer that is connected to the internet is also connected to a DNS server. When you setup a connection through your Internet Service provider, you are actually establishing a connection with their DNS server. You are given a public IP address that is used to identify your computer on the network.
If you are a webmaster, then you will need to learn the web address of your web host’s DNS server in order to point your domain to that server. Doing this is usually as simple as typing the web of the DNS in your domain registrar’s control panel.