What is DNS and Why is it Important?

what is dns and why is it important

Naturally, you should have to cram a boatload of numbers to access even the simplest sites like Chrome. However, a system has been put in place to help you avoid this, it is known as the Domain Name System. This article will tell you all you need to know about DNS and how it makes your browsing way easier than it could have been.

DNS: The Definition

DNS (Domain Name System) is like a little museum that ensures you don’t have to cram the oddest combinations of numbers, known as IP (Internet Protocol) addresses into your heads. Humans access websites using domain names like nifty.com whereas web browsers use IP addresses like 112.784.1.2.  Imagine if you had to frame a variety of these numbers to access all the websites you need, it would be hell. DNS is a tool designed to save you from that heat.

When you type in a domain name, DNS translates it to an IP address for the understanding of your web browser. Every device connected to the internet has a unique IP address that serves as its identification tag for other machines.

Types of DNS

For you to get a good grasp of the workings of the Domain Name System, you must first understand the types. They are:

Recursive DNS Resolver

The recursive resolver is like a tour guide with instructions on an artifact you’re looking for. When you type in your domain name, it carries it to begin the resolution process. This process involves finding IP addresses that are associated with this domain name. It makes several requests and queries other DNS servers until it reaches the authoritative DNS nameserver or the final IP address. If this isn’t found, it returns a time-out message or an error. You may be familiar with this. 

A good thing about DNS is that it does not always have to make several queries before getting to the main IP address. Instead, it can use a data persistence process called caching to create a shortcut and deliver results faster. In short, the recursive resolver helps connect you to the correct web server or none at all.

Root DNS Servers

The root DNS server may be likened to a section of the museum. It is the first place your recursive resolver goes to in translating a domain name to an IP address. The first query for any domain that is not cached goes there. It is a reference point for other locations, like the subsections of a museum. 

The root DNS servers store information about the TLD servers. So, it directs the recursive resolver from it to the applicable TLD server(s).

Top-Level Domain (TLD) Servers

Top-Level Domain servers, also known as TLD, comprise the next step of the resolution process. They serve as the subsections of the museum previously referenced. Here, things get more specific. The TLD servers handle the top-level domain extensions/the last portion of a hostname. For instance, in example.com, the TLD server is “.com” while in example.org, it is “.org”.

Authoritative DNS Servers 

Authoritative DNS servers can be likened to the artifact you are looking for, it is where your tour guide takes you to. This server holds the DNS resource records. While the recursive recursors can be assumed to be closest to the client searching for a page, this DNS type can be said to be farthest from them. 

Authoritative DNS servers respond to the queries and allow the recursor to make its way to the final IP address needed to access a website. A big difference between these two DNS servers is that a recursor may query several sources while the authoritative DNS is something of a final destination. As its name suggests, it returns an authoritative response, ensuring that only the correct IP address is found.

Importance of DNS

User-friendly Domain Names

If we had to input IP addresses every time we were to find a website, life would be harder. The Domain Name System (DNS) helps simplify this process by taking away the need to know IP addresses. For instance, if you wanted to access example.com, you’d probably have to type in a complex code of numbers and letters like 3730:dh00:2828:1::c929:j6g2. 

Therefore, the Domain Name System makes our use of the internet faster and less mentally tasking. It also serves as something of a library or warehouse for storing and managing our domain names and ensuring proper name-to-IP address mappings.

Efficient Web Navigation

DNS ensures smooth web navigation by lightning-fast translation of domain names into IP addresses. This is what translates to us as fast-loading sites or online resources. It reduces the time we have to spend searching for a piece of information and it provides us with an amazing browsing experience.

Another strategy employed by the Domain Namee System that facilitates effectiveness is caching. DNS caching is the temporary storage of data closer to the requesting client. Therefore, additional requests which would have otherwise been necessary are completely discarded. It increases speed and improves performance.

DNS caching may occur in several locations, each of which is set to store the data for an amount of time determined by a TTL (time-to-live).

Browser DNS caching is the one that occurs in your web browser, it is common in modern web browsers like Chrome. It is the first location checked for a DNS record when you type in a domain name. 

An operating system-level DNS caching, on the other hand, is a process inside your operating system. It is the next and last local stop after the browser cache is checked and before the query leaves your device. It is handled by something called a stub resolver.

Load Balancing

DNS servers are responsible for preventing server overload when there is increased traffic to a site or the performance of a website is defective and has to be maintained. They do this through a process called load balancing. Load balancing is a way of evenly spreading out incoming traffic among multiple servers. DNS servers can send various users to different servers based on factors like geographical proximity.

All of these happen behind the scenes with the requesting clients none the wiser as they won’t experience any delays. As much as load balancing prevents server overload, it also facilitates high availability.

Centralized Domain Management 

DNS allows for centralized domain management in that the domain owners can make changes to and update their domain from a single location. Some of the DNS records that can be modified include Address (A), Mail Exchange (MX), and Canonical Name (CNAME) records. The changes can be made through DNS management interfaces provided by hosting providers. This process makes administrative tasks and the general configuration of DNS settings easier. It also makes monitoring of domain change activities easy.

Global Accessibility

Even though its management may be centralized, DNS is actually a decentralized system. Its distributed structure makes it possible for DNS queries to be resolved from several locations worldwide, allowing users that are oceans apart to access the same websites and online resources using the same domain names.

Internet Scalability

With the ever-growing internet today, it is only right that the system we have in place can handle the increasing weight. The number of websites and users is increasing exponentially but with the DNS, we do not have to worry about the system collapsing in on itself. It was designed to be able to manage the ever-expanding queries and adjust to keep the internet accessible to its users.

Security and Privacy

Lastly, there are several security measures put in place around the Domain Name System which protect both the system and its users from threats. It also maintains the seamlessness of the domain resolution process. 

One such important measure is the DNSSEC, short for Domain Name System Security Extensions, which adds encrypted signatures to DNS records, thereby preventing spoofing and other dangerous attacks. It also helps ensure that users are not directed to the wrong websites and thus not victims of malicious activities. It also protects user privacy by preventing unauthorized access to personal DNS queries.


The Domain Name System is the backbone of the internet, without it, the internet will not be what it is today. Subsequently, it is an essential element in the inevitable expansion of the internet.

The DNS allows for seamless navigation and a positive browsing experience for users. It protects the privacy of the users while providing them with requested information at breakneck speed. Thanks to the DNS, several websites can be accessed worldwide at the same time while the domain is being controlled from a single location.

The DNS is an essential part of every browsing experience today, internet professionals can learn a lot and use it for a lot more just by understanding it.

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