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UNDERSTANDING HOW DOMAIN NAME SERVERS WORK
There are many things we like to talk about especially when it has anything to do with the internet. Some of us are adorers of high profile tech products and almost everyone is familiar with the entire social media lingo. But I bet you would rather not talk about any of those techy terms in web stack technology. Such complex topics are better left to IT specialists who possess the knowledge to work around such things. One of the techy terms you may not find anywhere near interesting is domain name server, or simply DNS for short. Whether you are a tech savvy or not, there is no way you wouldn’t have come across this term before. It is possible you noticed it when scanning your WIFI contract to check if you were being cheated and you just scrambled across it. You are likely to by-pass it given the fact that you don’t know what it meant or you are not even interested in knowing at all.
Domain name server or DNS is not something that is complex as it is perceived by most people especially “newbies” in web stack technology. It is not something that should be left only to tech pros. The truth is that the concept of DNS is one of the easiest things to grasp. Among all the techy stuffs you will find on the internet, domain name server is probably one of the simplest ones you can quickly comprehend. In the next paragraphs that follow, we will be talking about DNS and how they work.
In order to completely grasp the concept of what domain name servers are, it will help to first look at a general rule which is embodied in the fact: computers don’t speak or understand English (at least for the records). Not just English, but any other human language you can think of. The only language they speak is that encoded in numbers. Perhaps the most appropriate name for this language should be “machine language”. Anyway we are not really interested in what the language is called but how computers talk to each other in numbers. Whenever you enter a particular web address into a browser, something unusual goes on behind the scene. The web browser changes the name of the website you entered into a set of numbers. This series of numbers is referred to as an IP address. The IP stands for internet protocol and is the identity or name of a particular computer, thus no two computers can have the same IP. After converting the web address into an IP address, the web browser now seeks how to find the website you entered. This is where DNS comes in. It is the domain name server that receives the IP address of the domain and then searches its library to get the location of the website. Once it has discovered the location of the IP, it gives it to your web browser which then goes over there to get the content of the website. The moment this happens, all the images, text and links found on the website are organised and displayed as a beautiful page on your computer screen.
It may happen that the domain name server your web browser is making enquiring from doesn’t have the location of the site you entered. What it does is to ask another DNS if it knows the direction and if not, it will ask another. This continues until it finds the DNS with the location, after which the location is sent back to your browser which then takes it up from there. While sending the domain location to your browser, the DNS also saves the location to a cache just in case you need it again. The fascinating aspect of it all is that the whole process occurs in milliseconds.
So there you have it. If you have read up to this point, then you shouldn’t do bad telling others about what happens behind the screen in your web browser.