DNS, or the Magic of the Internet

When you type yahoo.com into you browser how is it that your computer knows how to find this specific web page? How can people find your web site to get information about your company or business or about you? What is domain registration and why is it important? People who plan on using the internet need a basic understanding of how the internet finds web sites and routes traffic to specific sites.
So I’ve won the lottery and opened a winery called Winos Wine. I want to build a web site to advertise my great wines and other products. I want the site to be winoswines.com since that is the name of the company. I get hosting space at my favorite hosting company and build a beautiful web site to my new company. But when I type in the site name into my browser, the site does not come up. I do a Google search but it comes back empty. How can that be? I’ve built a site and it sits on a server just waiting for traffic. The internet does not know the site exists because I did not register the domain name, winoswines.com, with one of the registrars like Go Daddy or Network Solutions. The registrars list the various domain names, yahoo.com, msn.com, cisp.com and winoswines.com , that exist on the internet. You pay their fee to have control of that domain name for a specific period of time, usually one to three years. In many cases the hosting company, like us, will handle this registration for you. You can also go to the registrar’s site and create an account there as well. The registration process will include providing contact information for the person or company that is purchasing the rights to that domain name. The last bit of information it will ask for is the name servers.
What’s a name server you ask? Well think of the name server as the great and powerful Oz, the man behind the curtain so to speak. The name servers tell the rest of the internet where to find the information about where to find the web site. This is done through DNS or domain name service. The internet does not work by moving information based on written language, but rather every computer or device on a network or the internet is assigned an IP address. Think of the IP address as your street address. That’s where you want your mail or other traffic to route to on the internet. An IP address will look something like this, 65.125.258.2. It contains four sets of numbers with periods between each set. No more than three numbers can be in each grouping. The registrar tells the world to check a specific DNS server for the information about each domain on the internet. The specific DNS servers such as DNS1.CISP.COM, then translate the request for winoswines.com into the IP address for the domain by checking its files for the information. The man behind the curtain then sends you along to the web site and it loads on your screen. The same could be said about email. Email servers use DNS to route your email from your PC to your mail server to the recipient’s server and then to their PC.

Tim Burnett

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