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What is the Domain Name System?

The domain name system, also referred to as simply the DNS, is an intricate worldwide network of web servers that collectively comprise a global database of domain names and IP addresses. The domain name system is the central point of the entire internet, and it is directly responsible for the way web addresses are used.

The job the domain name system is to take standard web addresses and domain names and translate them into segments of numbers that are compatible with computer dialogue. These numbers are known as IP addresses, and they are an integral part of the way the internet works.

Domain Name System and Domains

The domain name system is organized into a carefully structured hierarchy of servers that transmit data, keep the DNS database secure, and ensure its continuity.

When you register a web site, the site that you used to purchase your domain name usually holds the DNS records for your domain. DNS servers are also referred to as simply “nameservers.” Domains are stored on the DNS servers to which they are “pointed.”  Pointing a domain is as simple as changing a setting within the control panel of your domain registrar account.

Assigning DNS Servers

The owner of a domain has the right to point their domain towards any DNS they would like, and after purchasing a hosting plan, a domain owner will usually point their domain towards the DNS of their web server.

Pointing a domain is as simple as typing the web address of the DNS server into a box. A DNS server web address usually appears as NS1.WEBHOST.COM and NS2.WEBHOST.COM. Every web host has two nameservers for redundancy, or protection from any unexpected mishaps, such as server crashes and security attacks.  Although nameserver addresses are frequently displayed in capital letters, they are not case sensitive.

Finding the address of your web hosts nameserver is as simple as asking a hosting agent or browsing the control panel of your hosting account. Most of the time, this information will be displayed within the control panel of your web hosting account.

How IP Addresses Are Loaded

IP addresses are managed by different organizations that independently own DNS servers.  For example, all .com web addresses are handled by Network Solutions, Inc.  Thus, when a .com web site is accessed in your web browser, the site is loaded from a DNS server at Network Solutions, Inc., and the data is then transferred to your computer based on the URL that is attached to the IP address. Most people don't realize that they can also enter in the exact IP address of the site instead of the domain name and access the same information.

In essence, the domain name system is simply a database that translates regular letters into numbers that computers can decipher and use for communication. The database is distributed evenly amongst thousands of servers to prevent data failure, ensuring that every web site remains active and can be accessed when entered into the address bar of a browser. 

Other Articles:
An Introduction to Buying and Selling Domain Names
How Domain Names Work
The Basics of Domain Name Registration
Understanding The Value of Domain Names
What is a DNS Server?
What Are DNS Records?
Common TLDs and Their Uses
What is a DNS Lookup?
Types of DNS Servers
The Difference Between DNS and Name Servers
The Benefits of Country Code TLDs
How to Create a Name Server
How to Choose the Right TLD for Your Domain
When to Use Domain Forwarding