DNS translates internet domain and host names to IP addresses. DNS automatically converts the names we type in our web browser address bar to the IP addresses of the web servers hosting those sites. Bradley Mitchell – About Tech
Used in a Sentence
When I type wordpress.com into my web browsers address bar, DNS translates what I entered into an IP address on a WordPress server and then serves me the content stored on that server.
About the Word
The term DNS stands for Domain Name System. DNS can be thought of as a translator between where a human thinks they are going to access information and what a computer needs to know to access the requested information. The DNS database is not stored on only one server, but is divided between many different servers that work together to resolve where to find information. A DNS server called the Root Server coordinates requests and resolves them to other DNS servers. Barry Brown explains the process in the following video.
What Is a Domain?
Before delving deeper into DNS the term Domain must be defined. A domain is part of every website address and contains many levels. The web address clark.edu/student/studentfile.html has the following levels: clark is the domain, student is a directory, and studentfile.html is a file within the student directory. The next level up divides the internet into domains based on the TLD or Top Level Domain. In the example of clark.edu/student/studentfile.html, .edu is the TLD. There are many TLDs such as .com, .edu, .net, and .org. The TLDs are managed by a non-profit corporation named ICANN (Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers) that is responsible for their creation and distribution.
DNS and TLDs
DNS is a hierarchy. The DNS Root Server stores DNS information from all the other DNS servers. In fact there are multiple servers that contain complete copies of the database so there is not a central point that can be accessed or attacked. The next lower level is that of TLDs. Each of the TLDs approved by ICANN has its own DNS server that coordinates with the Root Server for requests. Finally, DNS servers from ISPs, companies, and even individuals form the lower levels of the DNS hierarchy.
DNS and WordPress
As would be expected, a WordPress website behaves the same as any other website when it comes to DNS. If the website is hosted on WordPress.com., then the WordPress DNS servers handle the processing of internal requests. Self-hosted WordPress websites are a different matter. While it is not in the scope of this article to fully explain the DNS ramifications of a self-hosted WordPress website, the video below can act as a primer.
For More Information On DNS
- ICANN Website
- Wikipedia – Domain Name System
- WordPress.com – Exploring the Domain Name System
- WP Beginner – What Is DNS?