In IT, we love our acronyms.  Ready for another one? “DNS”. DNS stands for Domain Name System. Three pretty boring words to string together, but what DNS does is quite exciting. It is sometimes referred to as the phonebook of the internet.

To understand what DNS does, we must first have some knowledge of IP addressing.  IP addresses are numerical codes, like serial numbers, that are unique to a website or service on the internet.  Since we are only human, typing Google.com is much easier than typing 216.58.193.206 in to your browser to get to your favorite search engine.  Both will get you to the same place, but Google.com is just much easier to remember.

In short, DNS matches the current IP address to its assigned domain name.  For example, when you type Google.com in your browser, the browser asks the Domain Name System (DNS) server to lookup the current IP assigned to Google.com.  The DNS server then returns the results to your browser in the form of an IP address, and boom– your search results for cute kitten videos returns in no time flat.  Using DNS also provides redundancy. When a server goes down, a request can be sent to change the requested domain name’s IP address within DNS to direct the request to a server that is up, so that you don’t see any interruption in service.

Without DNS, the modern Internet would not exist.  DNS provides many benefits beyond the very few I have mentioned here, and is an absolutely essential service that makes the internet work for us humans.

Written by Reid Clark
Photo by Neil Soni on Unsplash