How Do DNS Servers Work?


Quick Answer

Domain Name Service servers are the Internet equivalent of a phonebook and work by maintaining a directory of domain names and translating them into IP addresses. This is necessary because even though domain names are easy for people to remember, computers access websites purely on numerical IP addresses.

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Full Answer

Information from all domain servers found on the Internet is housed at a central registry where Internet service providers and host companies get updated DNS information. DNS servers act as a distributed database using a relationship between clients and servers that need name resolution and the servers that maintain the data. This database structure allows DNS names to be both decentralized and dynamic, giving domains control over their share of the database while allowing clients to access any part of the database.

When a person types in a web address, the Internet service provider views the DNS servers associated with the domain name, translates it into an IP address, and then directs the Internet connection to the right website. When a person registers a new domain name or updates his DNS servers on his domain name, it takes between 12 and 36 hours for DNS servers around the globe to be updated to enable them access the information. This 36-hour period is called propagation.

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