What is a DNS Server?
A DNS server is a computer server that stores a database of domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. DNS servers are responsible for resolving domain names to IP addresses, making your internet experience seamless and user-friendly. When you type a domain name into your browser, your computer requests a DNS server to find the IP address associated with that domain name.
DNS, short for Domain Name System, is like the phonebook of the internet. It translates human-friendly domain names (like google.com) into IP addresses (like 188.8.131.52), which computers use to identify each other on the network. A DNS server plays a pivotal role in this process. It’s your online GPS, ensuring that you reach the right online destinations. Without DNS servers, the internet as we know it wouldn’t exist.
What is DNS?
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It is a decentralized system that translates domain names into IP addresses. Every website on the internet has an IP address, which is a unique string of numbers and dots. However, remembering IP addresses for all the websites we visit would be impossible. That’s where DNS comes in.
Learn More What is DNS & How does it work?
But what does it mean in practical terms? DNS is the backbone of the internet, making it accessible and user-friendly. It’s like a postman who knows the house numbers of the entire world, ensuring that your online requests reach their correct destinations.
Types of DNS Server
When it comes to DNS servers, there are several types, each with its specific role in managing the vast Domain Name System. Let’s explore these types:
- Recursive DNS Server: Think of the recursive DNS server as your internet detective. When you type a web address into your browser, this server doesn’t have all the answers, but it knows where to find them. It starts by asking the root DNS server for directions and follows the trail to locate the authoritative DNS server that holds the specific IP address you need.
- Authoritative DNS Server: This is where the answers are. Authoritative DNS servers hold the actual database of domain names and their corresponding IP addresses. When a recursive DNS server seeks information, it’s the authoritative server that provides the definitive answer. Website administrators and domain owners manage these servers.
- Root DNS Server: At the very top of the DNS hierarchy are the root DNS servers. These servers manage the requests for top-level domains like .com, .org, and .net. They don’t have the IP addresses for individual websites but guide recursive DNS servers to the appropriate TLD server.
- TLD DNS Server: TLD stands for Top-Level Domain. These servers are responsible for specific domain extensions, like .com, .org, or .net. When a recursive DNS server queries a TLD DNS server, it’s directed to the authoritative DNS server for that specific domain.
These various types of DNS servers work together to ensure that when you type a web address into your browser, the correct IP address is found, allowing you to access the desired website. It’s a complex but highly efficient system that underpins the functionality of the internet, ensuring that your online experience is seamless and fast.
How Does DNS Server Work?
When you enter a domain name in your browser, your computer sends a request to your configured DNS server. The DNS server checks its cache to see if it has the IP address for that domain name. If it does, it returns the IP address to your computer. If it doesn’t, it will query other DNS servers until it finds the IP address. Once the IP address is found, it is returned to your computer, which then establishes a connection with the web server hosting the website.
Imagine you want to visit a website, let’s say “www.example.com.” When you type this into your browser and hit Enter, your computer doesn’t magically know where “www.example.com” is located on the internet. It needs a way to find out.
This is where the DNS server comes into play. DNS stands for Domain Name System, and it acts like a giant phonebook for the internet. Its primary job is to translate human-friendly domain names, like “www.example.com,” into machine-friendly IP addresses, such as “184.108.40.206.”
Here’s how the process works:
- Your Request: When you enter a web address in your browser, your computer sends a request to the DNS server to find the IP address associated with that domain name.
- Local DNS Cache: Your computer first checks its local DNS cache. If it recently visited the same website, it might have the IP address stored, making the process faster. This is known as DNS caching.
- Recursive DNS Server: If the IP address isn’t found in the local cache, your computer contacts a recursive DNS server. This server is like a detective; it doesn’t have all the answers, but it knows where to look.
- Root DNS Server: The recursive DNS server starts by asking the root DNS server. This is the highest level of the DNS hierarchy, and it knows where to find the authoritative DNS server for top-level domains like .com, .org, and .net.
- TLD DNS Server: The root DNS server directs the recursive server to the Top-Level Domain (TLD) DNS server, which is responsible for specific domain extensions. For “www.example.com,” it would be the .com TLD server.
- Authoritative DNS Server: The TLD server points the recursive server to the authoritative DNS server for “example.com.” The authoritative server has the exact IP address for “www.example.com.”
- IP Address Retrieval: The recursive server retrieves the IP address and sends it back to your computer.
- Accessing the Website: Now armed with the IP address, your computer can contact the webserver hosting “www.example.com” directly, and you can access the website.
In essence, the DNS server acts as an intermediary that helps your computer find the right path to your desired online destination. It’s a crucial part of the internet’s infrastructure, ensuring that your web requests are directed to the correct locations. Without DNS servers, navigating the internet would be like trying to find specific houses in a massive city without addresses.
DNS caching is a nifty feature that makes your internet browsing faster and more efficient. When you visit a website, your DNS resolver stores the IP address for a certain period. So, if you revisit the same website, your computer doesn’t need to query the DNS server again, making your browsing experience smoother.
As you browse the web, DNS caching is a smart feature that makes it faster and more efficient. It’s like your computer knowing where it has been so that it can get there faster and more easily next time.
When you go to a website for the first time, your computer asks a DNS server to find the IP address that goes with the domain name (like www.example.com). The DNS server finds the IP address and sends it back to your computer. Your computer then loads the page.
This is where DNS caching comes in:
- Local DNS Cache: This information is stored on your computer so it doesn’t lose it right away. The IP address is instead saved in a local DNS cache. By writing down a friend’s phone number in your address book, you won’t have to remember it every time you want to call them.
- Faster Future Visits: The next time you want to visit the same website, your computer checks its local DNS cache first. It doesn’t have to ask the DNS server for the IP address if it can find it there. This makes the page load a lot faster because your computer already knows where to find it.
- Time Limit: However, the information in the local DNS cache isn’t stored forever. “Time-to-live” (TTL) is the number of days that a record can be kept. After that amount of time, your computer will delete the entry from its cache. The next time you visit the website, it will ask the DNS server for the entry again. This is very important so that if the website’s IP address changes, your computer will still know what it is.
DNS caching is like your computer’s memory. It remembers the IP addresses of the websites you’ve been to recently, which speeds up and improves the efficiency of your internet viewing. It’s an easy way to improve your online travels that works well.
Why Do You Need a DNS Server?
A DNS server is essential for the functioning of the internet. Without DNS servers, we would have to remember the IP addresses of all the websites we want to visit, which is not practical. DNS servers also help in load balancing and improving the performance of websites by directing traffic to different servers based on their IP addresses.
The DNS server is like the unsung hero of your internet experience. Here’s why you need one:
- Faster Browsing: DNS caching speeds up your browsing experience by storing IP addresses for frequently visited websites.
- Security: Some DNS servers offer built-in security features that protect you from malware and phishing websites.
- Reliability: DNS servers ensure that your online requests reach the right destinations, minimizing errors and downtime.
- Customization: Some DNS servers allow you to block specific websites or content, providing a safer online environment for your family.
Top DNS Server Providers
Choosing a reliable DNS server provider is essential for ensuring a fast and secure internet experience. Here are some of the top DNS server providers known for their performance and reliability:
- Cloudflare DNS: Cloudflare’s DNS service, known as 220.127.116.11, is one of the fastest and most privacy-focused DNS options available. It prioritizes speed and privacy, making it an excellent choice for security-conscious users.
- Google Public DNS: Google’s Public DNS service is renowned for its speed and reliability. It offers two primary DNS addresses (18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124) and is known for its strong security features.
- OpenDNS: OpenDNS, now a part of Cisco, provides a family-friendly DNS service that includes robust security features to protect users from malicious websites. It offers both free and premium versions.
- Quad9: Quad9 is a DNS service that focuses on blocking known malicious websites and providing enhanced security. It uses threat intelligence from multiple sources to protect users from online threats.
- Comodo Secure DNS: Comodo’s DNS service emphasizes security and protection against malware and phishing sites. It offers a free and secure DNS option for users.
- Norton ConnectSafe: Norton ConnectSafe, offered by Norton Antivirus, provides a free DNS service with various filtering options, including security and family-friendly settings.
- Verisign Public DNS: Verisign offers a reliable and secure DNS service that focuses on performance and security. It can be an excellent choice for those looking for a dependable DNS provider.
- Level 3 DNS: Level 3 Communications provides a robust and high-performance DNS service. It’s known for its reliability and fast response times.
- DNS.WATCH: DNS.WATCH is a free and privacy-focused DNS service with a strong commitment to not logging user data. It offers a secure and fast DNS option.
- Yandex.DNS: Yandex.DNS is a DNS service offered by the Russian search engine company Yandex. It focuses on speed and security, making it a good choice for those in search of a reliable DNS provider.
When selecting a DNS server provider, consider factors such as speed, security features, privacy policies, and the specific needs of your network. Experimenting with different providers can help you find the one that best suits your requirements for a smooth and secure internet browsing experience.