If you already own a website, pay for hosting services or have bought a domain you may already be familiar with the term ‘DNS’. But it can all get a bit technical. It includes it’s own jargon that even some web developers aren’t always totally clear about. Simplepage wanted to detail for you how this works in plain English.

What is DNS?

DNS is an acronym that stands for: ‘Domain Name System’. It sounds very technical, but it’s really designed to work just like a giant telephone directory: it converts website names into numbers through a lookup process.

How does DNS work?

A computer that is attached to the internet will be given an ‘IP Address’. This address is a set of numbers that act like your telephone number – with the right settings, ‘dialling’ this number will allow you to connect to your computer from anywhere in the world. But you can imagine how difficult the web would be if you had to remember the number for every website you’ve ever visited!

This is where DNS can help! Rather than having to remember hundreds of numbers in a giant address book, DNS becomes our public address book, so now you only have to remember the ‘domain name’ (in this case: ‘google.com’).

When you enter ‘google.com’ in your browser, the first lookup done is to contact the ‘com’ top level domain name (TLD) server and ask where ‘google’ points to. At the time of writing, google.com points to 216.58.204.4. This is the ‘IP address’ which your browser will then connect to in order to fetch a web page from Google.