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DNS Servers: What Are They and Why Are They Beneficial

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Posted May 2, 2019

It’s more challenging to remember a website’s IP address as compared to a hostname or domain name. For instance, examplewebsite.com is a domain name, and the associated IP address could be something similar to 152.102.128.122. On the other hand, computers and network devices use an IP address to locate each other online. That’s why DNS servers help facilitate communication between computers and humans.

Servers in a data center. Image credit: Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

Servers in a data center. Image credit: Pxhere, CC0 Public Domain

In this post, you’ll learn more about DNS servers, such as the facts and benefits when it comes to internet use and website management.

What Are DNS Servers?

A Domain Name System or DNS refers to the system converting alphabetic names into IP addresses in number form. In short, DNS resolves or translates the domain or web names into IP addresses. Specialized software and specific protocols are used to communicate and run DNS. While humans use domain names for easier web navigation, computers use IP addresses, so paid or free DNS servers are the best platforms to make online communications and transactions easier.

How Do DNS Servers Work?

DNS is considered a client or server network communication system, wherein the DNS client sends the request to DNS servers and receives the responses in return. A request contains the name that results in an IP address returned from the DNS server.

DNS servers contain support for request caching and redundancy. Most operating systems usually support the configuration of DNS servers (primary, secondary, and tertiary) to prevent a single extensive central database. In short, DNS servers send and receive data to and from websites and computers to direct online users to the right place on the web.

Photo collage of internet top-level domain names. Image credit: NIST via publicdomainfiles.com, CC0 Public Domain

Photo collage of internet top-level domain names. Image credit: NIST via publicdomainfiles.com, CC0 Public Domain

Why Are DNS Servers Beneficial?

A Domain Name System is a centralized mechanism to resolve or give the IP addresses a domain name. But what are the benefits of DNS servers? Are DNS servers crucial for web security?

Here are the advantages of DNS servers:

  • DNS is the only system allowing online users to use and browse the internet.
  • DNS servers help you find the website with the use of your web browser (like Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer) by typing the name of the website.
  • You don’t need to memorize numbers. Instead of IP addresses or a string of numbers, you can enter the domain name or URL, which makes searching a lot easier.
  • DNS servers make online transactions possible, even with the use of innovative features like AI-based searches and chatbots.
  • DNS servers enable you to identify the data service’s technical functionality, defining the DNS protocol, detailed data structures specification, and data communication exchanges. DNS adds an extra layer of security.
  • Fault tolerance and proper load distribution of web hosting services to multiple servers enable multiple hostnames corresponding to a single IP address.
  • DNS enhances the security of DNS infrastructure, which is essential for dynamic, secure updates.
  • Your readers or customers experience more reliable, secure, and faster online transactions when visiting your website.

What Are the Types of DNS Servers?

All DNS servers would fall into one of these four categories: root nameservers, recursive resolvers,  authoritative nameservers, and TLD nameservers. A typical DNS lookup allows the harmonious working of these four DNS servers to deliver the IP address for a particular domain to the client.

Here are the good-to-know facts about the types of DNS Servers:

  • DNS Recursive Resolver: It acts as a middleman between a DNS nameserver and a client, responding with cached data, or sending a request to a root nameserver. Most internet users are using a recursive resolver, which is provided by internet service providers.
  • DNS Root Nameserver: A root server accepts the query of a recursive resolver, which includes a domain name. The root nameserver would respond by directing the recursive resolver to the TLD nameserver, which is based on the domain’s extension (.com, .org, .net, etc.).
  • Top Level Domain or TLD Nameserver: It maintains data for all domain names sharing a common domain extension. These are the information seen after the last dot in a URL. A .net TLD nameserver contains data for every website ending in .net. TLD nameservers are managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority or IANA.
  • Authoritative Nameserver: It’s usually the last step in the IP address journey, which contains information that is specific to the domain name.

Conclusion

Learning about DNS can be highly technical, but the basic things you need to know will give you an informed choice when you’re building a website, shopping for a web host, and other online transactions. Whether you’re an eCommerce entrepreneur, a web developer, a digital online marketer, or an IT specialist, knowing the facts and benefits of DNS servers is a good idea.

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