domain name system (DNS)
The domain name system (DNS) is the way that internet domain names are located and translated into internet protocol (IP) addresses. The domain name system maps the name people use to locate a website to the IP address that a computer uses to locate a website. For example, if someone types winlinvmcloud.com into a web browser, a server behind the scenes will map that name to the IP address 126.96.36.199.
Check the below url for real time DNS use
Web browsing and most other internet activity rely on DNS to quickly provide the information necessary to connect users to remote hosts. DNS mapping is distributed throughout the internet in a hierarchy of authority. Access providers and enterprises, as well as governments, universities and other organizations, typically have their own assigned ranges of IP addresses and an assigned domain name; they also typically run DNS servers to manage the mapping of those names to those addresses. Most URLs are built around the domain name of the web server that takes client requests.
How Domain Name Servers Work
DNS Servers and IP Addresses
- There are billions of IP addresses currently in use, and most machines have a human-readable name as well.
- DNS servers (cumulatively) are processing billions of requests across the Internet at any given time.
- Millions of people are adding and changing domain names and IP addresses each day.
With so much to handle, DNS servers rely on network efficiency and Internet protocols. Part of the IP’s effectiveness is that each machine on a network has a unique IP address in both the IPV4 and IPV6 standards managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Here are some ways to recognize an IP address:
- An IP address in the IPV4 standard has four numbers separated by three decimals, as in: 188.8.131.52
- An IP address in the IPV6 standard has eight hexadecimal numbers (base-16) separated by colons, as in 2001:0cb8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. Because IPV6 is still a very new standard, we’ll concentrate on the more common IPV4 for this article.
- Each number in an IPV4 number is called an “octet” because it’s a base-10 equivalent of an 8-digit base-2 (binary) number used in routing network traffic. For example, the octet written as 42 stands for 00101010. Each digit in the binary number is the placeholder for a certain power of two from 2 to 27, reading from right to left. That means that in 00101010, you have one each of 21, 23and 25. So, to get the base-10 equivalent, just add 21 + 23 + 25 = 2 + 8 + 32 = 42. For more about how IP addresses are constructed, see the article “What is an IP address?”
- There are only 256 possibilities for the value of each octect: the numbers 0 through 255.
- Certain addresses and ranges are designated by the IANA as reserved IP addresses, which means they have a specific job in IP. For example, the IP address 127.0.0.1 is reserved to identify the computer you’re currently using. So, talking to 127.0.0.1 is just talking to yourself!Where does your computer’s IP address come from? If we’re talking about your desktop or laptop computer, it probably comes from a Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) server on your network. The job of a DHCP server is to make sure your computer has the IP address and other network configuration it needs whenever you’re online. Because this is “dynamic,” the IP address for your computer will probably change from time to time, such as when you shut down your computer for a few days. As the user, you’ll probably never notice all this taking place. Web servers and other computers that need a consistent point of contact use static IP addresses. This means that the same IP address is always assigned to that system’s network interface when it’s online. To make sure that interface always gets the same IP address, IP associates the address with the Media Access Control (MAC) address for that network interface. Every network interface, both wired and wireless, has a unique MAC address embedded in it by the manufacturer.For more information on IP addresses, see the IANA, operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Now, though, let’s look at the other side of the DNS equation: domain names.
- Windows — Though you can click through the user interface to find your network interface settings, one quick way to find your IP address is to open the Command Prompt application from Accessories and enter this command: ipconfig
- Mac — Open your System Preferences, click Network, be sure your current network connection (with the green dot beside it) is selected, click Advanced, and click the TCP/IP tab.
- Linux or UNIX — If don’t already have a command prompt, open a terminal application, such as XTERM or iTerm. At the command prompt, enter this command: ifconfig
- Smartphones using WiFi — Look at your phone’s network settings. This will vary depending on the phone the version of its operating system.
Note that if you’re on a home or small local network, your address will probably be in the form 192.168.x.x, 172.16.x.x or 10.x.x.x (where x is a number between 0 and 255). These are reserved addresses used on each local network, and a router on that network then connects you to the Internet.
If we had to remember the IP addresses of all our favorite Web sites, we’d probably go nuts! Human beings are just not that good at remembering strings of numbers. We are good at remembering words, however, and that is where domain names come in. You probably have hundreds of domain names stored in your head, such as:
- google.com — one of the most used domain names in the world
- mit.edu — a popular EDU name
- bbc.co.uk — a three-part domain name using the country code UK
You’ll recognize domain names as having strings of characters separated by dots (periods). The last word in a domain name represents a top-level domain. These top-level domains are controlled by the IANA in what’s called the Root Zone Database, which we’ll examine more closely later. The following are some common top-level domains:
- COM — commercial Web sites, though open to everyone
- NET — network Web sites, though open to everyone
- ORG — non-profit organization Web sites, though open to everyone
- EDU — restricted to schools and educational organizations
- MIL — restricted to the U.S. military
- GOV — restricted to the U.S. government
- US, UK, RU and other two-letter country codes — each is assigned to a domain name authority in the respective country
In a domain name, each word and dot combination you add before a top-level domain indicates a level in the domain structure. Each level refers to a server or a group of servers that manage that domain level. For example, “winlinvmcloud” in our domain name is a second-level domain off the COM top-level domain. An organization may have a hierarchy of sub-domains further organizing its Internet presence, like “bbc.co.uk” which is the BBC’s domain under CO, an additional level created by the domain name authority responsible for the UK country code.
The left-most word in the domain name, such as www or mail, is a host name. It specifies the name of a specific machine (with a specific IP address) in a domain, typically dedicated to a specific purpose. A given domain can potentially contain millions of host names as long as they’re all unique to that domain.
Because all of the names in a given domain need to be unique, there has to be some way to control the list and makes sure no duplicates arise. That’s where registrars come in. A registrar is an authority that can assign domain names directly under one or more top-level domains and register them with InterNIC, a service of ICANN, which enforces uniqueness of domain names across the Internet. Each domain registration becomes part of a central domain registration database known as the whois database. Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI) was one of the first registrars, and today companies like GoDaddy.com offer domain registration in addition to many other Web site and domain management services.
Later, when we look at how to create a domain name, we’ll see that part of registering a domain requires identifying one or more name servers (DNS servers) that have the authority to resolve the host names and sub-domains in that domain. Typically, you would do this through a hosting service, which has its own DNS servers. Next, we’ll look at how these DNS servers manage your domain, and how DNS servers across the Internet work together to ensure traffic is routed properly between IP addresses.Every domain has a domain name server handling its requests, and there is a person or IT team maintaining the records in that DNS server’s database. No other database on the planet gets as many requests as DNS servers, and they handle all those queries while also processing data updates from millions of people every day. That’s one of the most amazing parts of DNS — it is completely distributed throughout the world on millions of machines, managed by millions of people, and yet it behaves like a single, integrated database!
Because managing DNS seems like such a big job, most people tend to leave it to the IT professionals. However, by learning a little bit about how DNS works and how DNS servers are distributed across the Internet, you can manage DNS with confidence. The first thing to know is what the purpose of a DNS server is on the network where it resides. A DNS server will have one of the following as its primary task:
- Maintain a small database of domain names and IP addresses most often used on its own network, and delegate name resolution for all other names to other DNS servers on the Internet.
- Pair IP addresses with all hosts and sub-domains for which that DNS server has authority.
DNS servers that perform the first task are normally managed by your Internet service provider (ISP). As mentioned earlier, the ISP’s DNS server is part of the network configuration you get from DHCP as soon as you go online. These servers reside in your ISP’s data centers, and they handle requests as follows:
- If it has the domain name and IP address in its database, it resolves the name itself.
- If it doesn’t have the domain name and IP address in its database, it contacts another DNS server on the Internet. It may have to do this multiple times.
- If it has to contact another DNS server, it caches the lookup results for a limited time so it can quickly resolve subsequent requests to the same domain name.
- If it has no luck finding the domain name after a reasonable search, it returns an error indicating that the name is invalid or doesn’t exist.
The second category of DNS servers mentioned above is typically associated with Web, mail and other Internet domain hosting services. Though some hardcore IT gurus set up and manage their own DNS servers, hosting services have made DNS management much easier for the less technical audience. A DNS server that manages a specific domain is called the start of authority (SOA) for that domain. Over time, the results from looking up hosts at the SOA will propagate to other DNS servers, which in turn propagate to other DNS servers, and so on across the Internet.
This propagation is a result of each DNS server caching the lookup result for a limited time, known as its Time To Live (TTL), ranging from a few minutes to a few days. People managing a DNS server can configure its TTL, so TTL values will vary across the Internet. So, each time you look up “www.winlinvmcloud.com,” it’s possible that the DNS server for your ISP will find the lookup results “184.108.40.206” in its own cache if you or someone else using that server looked for it before within the server’s TTL.
This great web of DNS servers includes the root name servers, which start at the top of the domain hierarchy for a given top-level domain. There are hundreds of root name servers to choose from for each top-level domain. Though DNS lookups don’t have to start at a root name server, they can contact a root name server as a last resort to help track down the SOA for a domain.
Now that you know how DNS servers are interconnected to improve the name resolution process, let’s look at how you can configure a DNS server to be the authority for your domain.