Have you ever wondered how the internet works? For instance, if you type my domain – lifeform.co.nz – into the address bar of your browser, chances are you will arrive at this website. If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on behind the scenes to make that happen, the answer is DNS.
Your website and email are hosted on computer servers identified by numbers. DNS records connect those numbers to your domain name. This enables your email to work and tells the internet where to find your website. DNS also holds other information about your email, website and related services. DNS is at the heart of how the internet works.
DNS stands for ‘Domain Name System’ and is a basic to how the internet works.
DNS can be thought of as the internet’s phone book.
DNS tells the internet where to find your website and email.
It has evolved over the years and is also now used to hold various types of information for a range of purposes.
Most things on the internet live on servers (computers linked to the internet) identified by a number known as an IP address that looks something like this: 188.8.131.52
DNS records map those numbers to domain names so when people want to go to your website they can use your domain name – yourdomain.co.nz – rather than the number of the server it’s hosted on.
Here’s an example of one of the most common types of DNS records (an ‘A’ record) that does just that:
yourdomain.co.nz. A 184.108.40.206
DNS records also identify where your mail server is located and provide various pieces of information on how it operates.
DNS lives on dedicated servers. Domain name owners have access to their domain’s DNS are responsible for making sure all the necessary records are in place.
However, so the internet can operate efficiently, DNS is decentralised. DNS servers exist all over the world that replicate your domain’s DNS records so they can be accessed quickly from anywhere in the world.
Who Provides DNS Hosting Services?
A range of companies provide DNS hosting services.
Web Hosting companies usually offer DNS hosting services.
Domain name registration companies also typically provide DNS hosting services.
There are some entities set up to solely provide DNS services.
Email providers typically don’t provide DNS services but will supply you with the DNS records required for your email to operate correctly and securely.
DNS service providers do not alter or edit your DNS records. Given their importance, editing and updating DNS records is done by the domain name holder alone or by their agent.