DNS in a nutshell

This week I did a radio spot on what DNS was and how it works.  I figured this would be a good thing to post here as well.  So here is DNS in a nutshell…

DNS stands for Domain Name System and it plays a big part in how the internet works.  It lets us use regular language to navigate to the websites rather than using the actual address.  Essentially it’s like a phone book or old time phone switch board.  You tell your web browser that you want to go to fencig-inc.com and it asks a DNS server for the address.  The server replies with the actual address, which happens to be 204.93.163.87, and the browser can then go there to bring up your request.  Even with the hyphen fencig-inc.com is a lot easier for us to remember than that address.  So DNS is there to make your internet easier to use.

Most of the time DNS works in the background without us knowing.  However DNS settings can greatly affect our enjoyment of the internet.  If the server is slow to look up your request you will have a wait to get to your page, if it loads at all.  Most of us use the servers that our internet service provider (ISP) set up.  However there are other options out there.  Places like Google and OpenDNS have servers set up for anyone to use and can often resolve addresses faster than most ISP servers.

Some services like OpenDNS have tools that will help protect your internet surfing by filtering out known malicious web addresses.  They also provide ways of watching what sites are being visited which can be handy in a business or parental environment.

As always, if you have questions or feedback feel free to drop a post or send me an email.

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