A Beginner’s Guide to Domain Name Servers (DNS) and How Does It Work

Domain Name Servers

Let us recap the topic on “What is a Domain name” which we already explained in this article. So a domain name is a creative and crucial part of any website URL. Usually, domain name hierarchy structure is made up of Top Level Domain (TLD), Secondary Level Domain (SLD), Zero-Level and Third-Level Domain.

However, a domain name is basically the address of your website. When it is represented in a set of four numbers, such as 172.217.14.228, then it is called as “IP Address” which is understood by the computer. This numerical address is a given a domain name for a user to identify, relate to and search the desired website, such as www.google.com.

In short,

You understand – www.google.com (Domain name)

Computer Understands – 172.217.14.228 (IP Address)

This is where DNS comes in to play.

How does DNS Work?

A Domain Name Servers, or DNS, translates a domain name to an IP address which a computer can understand. It acts like a phonebook directory to store the relationship between the domain name and IP address. When a user types in a URL on the browser, the address gets fetched from Domain Name Servers and the server displays the requested website on the screen.

There are 4 types of DNS servers that contribute to a web page loading:

  1. DNS Recursor – Part of the DNS server that receives a user query through web browsers
  2. Root nameserver – It translates human-readable hostnames into IP addresses
  3. TLD nameserver – As we explained earlier, a TLD or a Top-Level Domain is usually the last portion of a URL, such as .com. TLD nameserver is the exact location where the hostname gets translated into IP address.
  4. Authoritative nameserver – This server gets access to the requested record, returns the IP address to the DNS Recursor for the requested hostname that made the initial request.

What is a DNS resolver?

A DNS Resolverstarts the sequence of queries that leads to a URL which would be translated into the necessary IP address.

Types of DNS Query:

  1. Recursive query – In this form of query, a DNS client expects that a DNS server will respond to the client with either the requested file or an error message if the server can’t find the record.
  2. Iterative query – A Domain Name Server is expected to return the best answer it can. But in case of iterative query, the queried DNS server will not fetch the complete answer for your query. It will give back a referral to other DNS server authoritative for a lower level of the domain namespace. The DNS client will then make a query to the referral DNS server. It continues down the query chain until either the last DNS server returns an error or timeout.
  3. Non-recursive query – In this type of query, a DNS resolver client queries a DNS server that it has in records. Typically, a DNS server stores DNS records to prevent additional bandwidth consumption and load on upstream servers.

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