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Karan Singh Karan is a highly experienced DevOps Engineer with over 13 years of experience in the IT industry. Throughout his career, he has developed a deep understanding of the principles of DevOps, including continuous integration and deployment, automated testing, and infrastructure as code.

Decoding DNS Servers: How They Work and Why They’re Crucial for Your Website

3 min read

Every internet-connected device and server has a unique IP address that other devices employ to find the devices and servers. Normally, to find other devices or web pages, we would have to know the IP address and type those into the search bar to reach destination devices or web pages. But, using the internet this way would be challenging and time-consuming for us. Since 1983, the internet has been using Domain Name System (DNS) to eliminate the need to memorize long and complex IP addresses for every device and web page. DNS translates domain names and URLs into IP addresses and directs users to destination web pages. Without a doubt, DNS improves user experience and allows us to access desired web pages or devices within seconds. In this article, we will examine DNS servers, how they work, and why they are crucial for your websites. Let’s begin by explaining what DNS is.  

What Is DNS?

Domain Name System (DNS) is like a phonebook for the internet. DNS converts domain names and URLs into computer-friendly IP addresses. This way, when we type an URL and domain name into the search bar, a server behind the curtains finds the corresponding IP address, directs the user to the website, and enables communication. For example, when you search for, DNS translates it to an IP address that looks like this: This process and lookup are called DNS resolution, and it happens within seconds. 

DNS servers have four main types that are involved in finishing DNS resolution. These are recursive, root name, top-level domain, and authoritative name server. The recursive server is the first resource a user connects to. It takes DNS queries from a web browser and searches for corresponding IP addresses. If a quarry is caught, it enables an answer to the user. If it can’t find the matching IP address, it repeats the search and connects to the next-level server for a matching IP, then provides an answer to the user.  

The root name server can be seen as an index of all servers that will have the queried information. When a quarry doesn’t catch in the recursive server, the quarry will be passed to the root server and search for a matching IP there. 

The top layer domain server is the next place where queries will be sent. Root server directs to quarry based on its top layer domain such as .com, .edu, .net, or .org. The TLD name server possesses every piece of the information related to domain names that end with .com. 

The authoritative name layer is the final stop in the DNS query. This server has DNS resources records and once the query is directed to this server, it searches for matching IP. When the information of the query is found, it provides the matching IP to the recursive resolver. Then recursive servers return an answer to the client. If the information couldn’t be retrieved from the Authoritative name server then it shows an error message.

There are three types of DNS queries, and these are recursive, iterative, and nonrecursive DNS queries. These queries take place at distinct spots at the DNS resolution. Recursive queries happen between the recursive server and the user. These queries either give an answer of full name resolution or it will show an error page. 

In Iterative DNS queries, a DNS server will answer the requested query if it can. When a recursive DNS query doesn’t provide a matching IP, it directs the query to another authoritative DNS server or the root server that returns a matching IP for your query. 

Nonrecursive DNS queries happen when a DNS server answers a requested query from the records. In nonrecursive queries, the recursive server knows where to retrieve information from. It either gets the answer from the recursive server or directly goes to the authoritative server without passing a query on to the root and TLD server.     

How Do DNS Servers Work? 

When a user types in a domain name or web address to the search bar, the web browser sends a recursive DNS query to the network to discover the corresponding IP address. First, the query is sent to a recursive DNS server, if this server has the matching IP, it will return an answer to the user and load the webpage. When a recursive DNS server can’t find a matching IP, the query will be directed to other servers in the following order: root name, TLD, and authoritative name servers. The query will be passed from one server to another until it finds a DNS record that has the IP address of the query. Once the information is obtained, it will be sent to the recursive server, and the queried web page will load. If the matching IP address couldn’t be retrieved from an authoritative name server, it will show an error message.    

Why DNS Servers Are Crucial For Your Websites? 

DNS servers bring many benefits to organizations. DNS servers make your website accessible to the outside world and enable compatibility with search engines. They can speed up internet connections and enable rapid response to requests. Also, they can improve security and enable better up-time. 

DNS servers have two types, public and private. Depending on the DNS server type your website uses, you can get different outcomes. When we examine public vs private DNS server, we can see that private DNS server provides better security and control for organizations. Private DNS servers are more reliable and offer content-filtering features to organizations. This way, organizations can decide which type of content can be accessible to staff. Also, using both types together can be a good option as well. In this setup, organizations maintain public and private servers that they don’t know each other. This setup helps organizations create layered security and allows them to prevent private information from leaking outside. 

Last Remarks 

DNS servers are essential for the internet. Without them, using the internet would be a challenging experience and all of us would have to memorize long and complex IP addresses to access web pages and devices. By all means, DNS servers make our lives easier and enable a seamless browsing experience. DNS servers convert domain names and URLs into computer-friendly IP addresses, this way we are able to access and communicate with other devices and web pages. The DNS resolution process has several steps and seems complicated but a server behind the scenes handles everything within seconds.

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Karan Singh Karan is a highly experienced DevOps Engineer with over 13 years of experience in the IT industry. Throughout his career, he has developed a deep understanding of the principles of DevOps, including continuous integration and deployment, automated testing, and infrastructure as code.
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