How DNS Works

Learn how the DNS affects your website and business.

One of the most fundamental aspects of the internet is the Domain Name System (DNS).

Despite its vital importance to the overall function of the web, few people realize that they’re using it regularly, not just when they want to register a domain name, but every single time they use their computer or smartphone device.

So, for all of you prospective first-time website owners, here are some basic terms to understand that can help get the ball rolling.

Online success starts with a great domain; get yours today at   

IP addresses

What is an IP address? Computers on the web correspond with each other using Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. These IP addresses are a string of numerical digits and periods, either 32-bit or 128-bit, which look like:

These have two primary functions:

  • An IP address represents a computer’s online address so that it can be located or locate other computers.
  • An IP address allows for the host or the network identification.

Computers are hardwired to obey a list of built-in networking commands, or protocols, to connect to the internet and exchange information. The Internet Protocol was intended to address, dispense, and route online requests in a precise fashion, paired with a return address so those requests could be fulfilled.

When a computer goes online, the first thing it does is connect indirectly to an internet web browser via a network already connected to the internet. This gives you access to the web, using  your Internet service provider (ISP), work network, or wireless network.

The Domain Name System

During the internet’s formative years, IP addresses were ingenious creations, allowing computer scientists to identify individual computers, and to communicate between them. While this worked quite well when the internet was composed of just a few computers, as more devices and people joined the rapidly growing network, this method, understandably, grew overly complicated.

As you might imagine, if this was difficult for computer scientists, asking introductory users to memorize multiple strings of 12 random digits was impractical, if not impossible. While it would have been possible to create a gigantic IP phone book of sorts, each with the specific computer and IP address, this too seemed an inefficient solution. So, to alleviate this problem, computer scientists proposed the creation of a domain name system.

The root idea underlying the concept of DNS was that humans have an easier time remembering words than numerical strings. Therefore, it would be much simpler to have a nickname for each IP address, which we now call, a domain name. To facilitate this process, each domain name would be:

  • A unique, one-of-a-kind, name linked to a specific IP address.
  • Registered, maintained, and paid for by the owner.
  • Added to an extensive directory to be regulated and overseen.

This proposed solution was widely embraced, and the domain name system was born.   

What is the DNS server?

When asking, “what is the DNS database,” it is essential to understand how DNS resolution functions. DNS resolution occurs when a hostname, such as, is translated into an IP address. This DNS query must pass through four different types of DNS servers in order to locate a domain name:

  • DNS recursor – This high-end, high-performance server is the librarian of the domain name system. It helps you to locate the specific domain name amongst that vast array of billions of other names. This web server receives queries from applications, and then makes further requests to help find the domain name.
  • Root name server – The root server is the initial phase of resolving domain names into IP addresses. It is akin to the Dewey Decimal System, which indexes and categorizes names, acting as a reference point that sends the query to a more specific location.  
  • Top Level Domain name server – The TLD server helps to continue to narrow down the domain name into a specific category. For the purpose of the library analogy, this would be like going to the horror section. For hosts, it is the last portion of the domain name. As an example, the .com in is the TLD (top-level domain.)
  • Authoritative name server – This is the terminal web server in a DNS query, retrieving the specific name and matching the IP address. It translates this IP address, and sends it back to the DNS recursor, which in turn, fulfills the query for the user.

The DNS directory

These days, there are more than a quarter trillion registered domain names around the world. Because of its sheer size and scope, the DNS directory is not all stored on one mega server; instead, it is stored on various domain servers that communicate and update each other constantly. It’s important to note that each domain name can be linked to more than a single IP address. Some websites might have dozens, if not hundreds, of IP addresses that link to a single domain name.

If the DNS directory were all in one single place, it would not only be more vulnerable to attack from hackers or malicious threats, but it would also make the resolution process take infinitely longer to get a response since you, and millions of others, would be searching through billions of names simultaneously.

To facilitate this process and prevent slowdowns, two main things occur:

  • DNS information is split up and shared between hundreds of authoritative nameservers
  • DNS queries are cached locally, so if you regularly use a site, like Facebook, that DNS information is saved on your computer so that your computer does not have to search all over again for that DNS information.

Why domain names matter

If you are starting a business and want to have a website tied to it, it’s essential that you register a domain name within the domain name system. Put serious thought into selecting a name that provides the most benefit for building your brand and generating traffic.

Benefits of selecting the right domain names include:

  • Advertising – A domain name is essential if you wish to have sponsors or advertisements on your website, which helps build brand authority, and generate additional revenue.
  • Branding – A domain name is the first step to building your brand and encouraging customers to subconsciously tie in the name with your brand. A website and domain name give you the opportunity to say who you are and what you bring to the table.  
  • Establishing credibility – An internet presence is vital in today’s economy. Websites are used as initial screening tools to ensure that the business, and products they sell, is credible. When you have a domain name, especially a premium domain name, you can send prospective business to a website that confirms your credibility, so a potential customer will do business with you and trust you with their personal information.
  • Forming subliminal links – Good domain names should be easy to recall. Typically, it helps if they’re short and memorable. These names should relate  to your goods and services so people naturally associate your name with your industry.
  • Grants you a professional email – Having your own domain name lets you connect a domain with an email addresses, like Gmail for work or Microsoft Office 365, lending further professionalism and credibility to your communications.
  • Search Results – A relevant domain name helps improve your search results. If you want to sell racing drones, for example, the domain name, will naturally rank higher, with the keyword as part of the name.

Domain Name System registration  

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created to “coordinate the numerical spaces of the internet, and ensure the network’s stable and secure operation.” Domain registrars work with ICANN to officially register and link domain names with IP addresses. is a registrar and hosting provider that can fulfill the registration process, since ICANN has accredited us and granted this privilege. So, if you want to create a domain name, is where that process begins.

You should be aware of the fact that registering a domain name does not make you the lifetime owner of that name; rather, you rent out that name for a given period of time. This typically consists of a rental period that lasts anywhere from a year to multiple years. Once that time comes to a close, you have the first exclusive option to renew your registration for an additional period. If your name expires without renewing, someone else could potentially swoop in and nab the name.

The DNS registration process

Once you have found the ideal name, and made sure that it’s available, you may then register your chosen domain name on To register, you need to submit the following:

  • The specific domain name.
  • The chosen top-level domain.
  • Your contact info including first name, last name, home address, email address, contact number.
  • The terms and length of registration.
  • Your payment and billing information.

Once you have filled out all of this information and hit submit, sends a registration request and files your domain name with ICANN.

DNS backordering

As a final note, if a name you desire is already taken, gives you the option to submit a backorder request on that name. This backorder request pins you to that desired name, so when the name expires and reverts for sale to the general public, you will be amongst the first alerted of the news. This gives you the opportunity to snag the name.

The Domain Name System helps your business get found online

The DNS has been hugely important for the facilitation and categorization of the internet. It makes the world wide web go round and allows internet users to search the name of the website rather than their specific IP address.

Online success starts with a great domain; get yours today at

Kristin Crabb
Kristin Crabb

Content Marketing Strategist working in the digital marketing industry. Skilled in SEO-focused content creation, keyword research and competitive analysis, interactive content, web content optimization, and landing page creation.

Kristin Crabb
Kristin Crabb

Content Marketing Strategist working in the digital marketing industry. Skilled in SEO-focused content creation, keyword research and competitive analysis, interactive content, web content optimization, and landing page creation.