If you’re looking for the meaning of DNS — you’re in the right place. Read on to discover what this acronym stands for and more.
The worldwide web is a wild frontier that relies on intricate computer languages and codes to track and share information. While there are many instruments of the Internet, arguably the most fundamental is the DNS — aka, the domain name system.
That said, what exactly is DNS? We’ll tell you. Read on to discover everything you need to know about DNS, including what it is and how it’s used today.
What is the Definition of DNS?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, DNS is an abbreviation that stands for domain name system (or domain mane server) and is commonly used in computing.
Simply put, DNS is a huge directory of names that match with numbers. The numbers — in this case — are IP addresses, which computers use to communicate with each other.
You see, when a web address (AKA, a URL) is typed into a web browser, DNS servers return the IP address of the webserver connected with that name.
So, for example, the DNS converts the URL “www.example.com” into the IP address “220.127.116.11.” Without DNS, you would have to take the time to input the series of numbers and dots into your web browser to retrieve the desired website.
A good way to think of DNS is as a phone book where users can search for a requested individual and retrieve their phone number.
The Start of DNS
Back in the early days of the Internet, it was much easier for people to connect specific IP addresses with specific computers. That didn’t last very long, as more devices and more people joined the unbelievably fast-growing network.
While it’s still possible to type a particular IP address into a browser and reach a certain website, users wanted a simpler option.
When Internet services began, American scientist Elizabeth Feinler personally assigned those names and addresses in a master list (called “hosts.txt”). Feinler’s list included all of the computers that were connected together within the network at the time.
As the Internet grew to millions of domains, this centralized system was deemed not sustainable, causing researchers to look for a new solution.
In 1983, a USC researcher named Paul Mockapetris developed a new system that he named DNS, which remains based on Mockapetris’ fundamental principles. Today, the standard for DNS are maintained by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in RFC 1035.
How Does DNS Work?
When you enter a URL in your web browser, DNS springs into action to connect that specific URL to the IP address of the actual server. This is called DNS name resolution and involves a DNS recursor querying various nameservers to discover the actual IP address of a server.
To truly understand the process behind the DNS resolution, it’s important to first learn about the hardware components a DNS query must go through. For the web browser, the DNS lookup takes place “behind the scenes” and requires no interaction from the user’s PC apart from the initial request.
That said, there are 4 DNS servers involved in loading a webpage:
- DSN Recursor — Also known as the DNS resolver, the DSN precursor can be thought of as a librarian who is asked to go track down a particular book somewhere in a library. In short, the DNS recursor is a server designed to receive queries from client machines through applications such as web browsers.
- Root Nameserver — This is step one in translating human-readable hostnames into IP addresses and can be thought of as an index in a library that points to different shelves of books.
- TLD Nameserver — This top-level domain server can be thought of as a specific shelf of books in a library. It is the next step in the search for a specific IP address and hosts the final portion of a hostname.
- Authoritative Name server — This is the last stop in the nameserver query and can be thought of as a dictionary on a shelf of books, in which a specific name can be translated into its definition.
If the authoritative nameserver has access to the DNS record that was requested, it’ll return the IP address for the requested hostname back to the DNS precursor (AKA, the librarian) that made the initial request.
So, now you know what DNS means and how to spot one in your daily life!
To recap, DNS is an abbreviation that stands for Domain Name System. Known as the phonebook of the Internet, DNS translates human-readable domain names (for example, www.Facebook.com) to machine-readable IP addresses (for example, 192.0.2.44).
In other words, DNS is used to associate web-based services — such as email and hosting — with a domain name. To learn about more interesting words and their definitions, check out our website where you’ll also discover useful grammar tools, helpful tips, and more.
Whether you’re looking to understand computing-related terminology or simply hoping to make sense of a confusing word, you can always count on The Word Counter to help.