Understanding the DNS Domain Namespace


Domain Name System (DNS) is basically an Internet related phenomenon that transforms domain names into IP number addresses. The Internet, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, a DNS application immediately translates the nomenclature into the matching IP. For example, the domain name www.example.com might translate to domain names are alphabetic, they’re easier to remember.

It is a fun fact that you have come across the DNS system as you surfed the web, without even realizing it.  As is the case with everything on the web, the DNS is nothing but a set of rules, or protocols in the nerd lingo that standardizes the exchange of data and signals over the internet including private and public networks known as the TCP/IP set of rules. Its basic job is to act as a GPS for the computer internet system identifying each entity with a unique DNS that can be read to represent an IP address, hence deciding the identity of the system involved.

Now, as you can imagine, it is a great hassle to have a phonebook kind of database for the zillions of IP addresses around and virtually impossible to remember and implement functions using such addresses. Hence, a DNS is used which manages the huge mapping of the network and enables a user to connect to other entities over the web. Without DNS servers, the whole web paraphernalia would be down quickly making the world digitally paralyzed.

But how can a computer decide or even decipher what DNS server is to be used? Here your ISP (Internet Service Provider) comes into play and through your Wi-Fi or router modem, send some important configuration settings to your computing device. It is in a series of steps that the computer deciphers how to transport you to a website:

  1. First it initiates a DNS query with regards to the hostname or URL that you have put in, provided the same is not available in the local DNS cache.
  2. The DNS servers of your ISP would do the necessary toiling to find the query and if found, the information is returned to the user.
  3. After this, if the information is not found, the recursive DNS servers would be engaged.
  4. If the same is not found even there, then root name servers will be brought in. A root name server is essentially a system built to answer queries about the domain names and IP addresses. It would perform the basic function of a telephone switchboard in this process of translating the DNS into IP.
  5. Next, the TLD name servers or the authoritative DNS servers would be tasked to find the query and the DNS record would be found and this signal intimated.
  6. Finally, the required record (which has a limited time-to-live value, requiring a new copy after said time expires) would be found amidst a whole array of different types of records and the retrieved answer would be sent back to the system where the query had originally been initialized.

What is sure to amaze you is that this entire bureaucracy of queries and server searches take only about a few milliseconds to execute. The DNS system is a network of its own, and if one node does not know the answer, another is sure to be engaged. Overall, however complicated it might sound, it is really just a cog in the wheel to make it easier to obtain and understand information.

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