DNS for Web Hosting
If you’ve been surfing the Internet for quite a while, you’re probably already familiar with domain names and how important they are for web sites. But are you familiar with DNS? Well, if you’re not, let me help enlighten you.
DNS refers to several things all at once.
- Domain Name Service - the data query service that searches domains until a specified host name is found
- Domain Name System – a system of mapping names to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses hierarchically in a specific domain, much like a phonebook for the Internet.
- Domain Name Server - the server, used on the Internet and some private networks, where host names are translated to their IP address.
The DNS system is, therefore, its own network, and if one DNS server is unable to translate a particular domain name (Translating the name into the IP address is called “resolving the domain name.”), it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned.
How does DNS work?
There are several web sites that explain the process in detail. These include:
- HowStuffWorks – How Domain Name Servers Work by Marshall Brain
- Stamey.nu – How DNS Works
- Windows & .Net Magazine Network – How DNS Works by Gary C. Kessler
So why is DNS important?
Because it helps users find their way around the Internet and it also makes it easier by allowing a familiar string of letters (the “domain name”) to be used instead of the arcane IP address (which is harder to remember, it actually being a 32-bit numeric address, written as four numbers separated by periods)
A critical design feature of DNS is universal resolvability, which ensures predictable results from any place on the Internet. But if at any point the DNS is faced with two identical domain names with different IP addresses, the DNS would not function and be unable to resolve the domain name.
This is where ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers comes in. It is a global, non-profit, private-sector coordinating body responsible for managing and coordinating the DNS to ensure universal resolvability. It also oversees the processes and systems that ensure that each domain name maps to the correct IP address. Among these are IP address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top-Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions.
ICANN is also responsible for accrediting domain name registrars, which are entities where you can go to have your domain name registered. A list of ICANN-Accredited Registrars are found at their site.
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