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What is DNS? How does it work?

What is a DNS (Domain Name System)? In simpler terms, it’s like the internet’s address book. It is easy to remember but computers have to translate that information to IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. Now, before I lose you here, let me expound a little more.
If you unveil the history of the internet, you will learn that users had to know the website’s IP address to visit it. This is how an IP address looks like… This is because computers communicate through numbers. Imagine how tedious that was, huh!
Fast-track back to the twenty-first century, the DNS technology has made life simpler. One blogger once explained it in comparison to a phonebook address. This reminds me of those times when you had to put your phone number on yellow pages address book to share your phone numbers with others. Now, you can just search your phonebook and retrieve a phone number without necessarily memorizing it.
Let’s put it all together.
You want to visit a website, say, and you type in on your browser. The first thing likely to happen is it will be checked on your browser cache if you had visited it before. If not, it will query to find the answer. If you have visited the page before, it will attempt to retrieve the answer with your local resolving nameserver which is your ISP(Internet Service Provider), to get the DNS record for your cached domain.
Here is how the root nameservers come in. If there’s no cached information about the domain, the query goes to root nameservers. The root nameservers by themselves can’t give an answer but they know where to find one, so the TLD(Top -Level Domain) Nameservers will lead you to the servers storing the information of the domain name you’re looking for.
This entire process takes fractions of seconds. Impressive, right? You might not realize how that simple query of searching,, travels takes a road-trip before you get an answer.
What issues could you encounter with this process?
Cached DNS on your browsing history or on your Internet Service Provider (ISP) could give you an impression that the domain name you’re trying to access is not online.
At this point, you might be requested to clear your browser’s cache or try with a different ISP just so that we can try and locate where the problem is arising if the service is online and accessible. It’s very important for you to get in touch with our support team for further assistance and guidance.
Related: What is domain propagation? How long does it take?


The Author

Viona W.

With over 7 years of experience crafting tech content, Viona W is a valuable asset to the HOSTAFRICA editorial team. Her skills extend beyond writing, as she also boasts experience in public relations and cultivating relationships with media outlets. This makes Viona adept at ensuring HOSTAFRICA's achievements and initiatives gain well-deserved public recognition. When Viona isn't immersed in the world of tech, she enjoys seeking out new experiences in nature and the power of storytelling to create positive change.

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