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What is DNS?

DNS (Domain Name System) is like the master directory of the internet. It converts the website names into numbers (IP addresses). These IP addresses identify the internet (cloud) server on when each website resides.

How Does DNS Work?

Let's follow a typical website request through its complete trip.


When you type a website name (URL) in your browser or click a website link, your browser immediately sends a request to your network. For our example, let's use as our desired website.


Your router is the link between your computer and the internet. It is configured to route your website request to a server. This is usually your Internet Service Provider (ISP).


This server is called a DNS server.


Your ISP routes the request again. This time to the root DNS name server for .com domains. These are called TLD (top-level domain) servers.


Your ISP chooses one of the name servers and sends the request for to the server.

The DNS name server looks at the website name it received ( and finds the unique IP address for the website.

For example, the IP address for is


If the IP address isn't found, then the server sends a message back to your ISP that the website you requested isn't found.


If an IP address is found, then then DNS name server routes your request for to


If the IP address is found, the website is displayed on your browser.

If the IP address isn't found, then a message such as "404 not found" or "website not found" is displayed on your browser.

The entire trip has been completed in a matter of milliseconds.

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What Is a Domain?

A domain name is the unique name that is your company's internet address. It's the character part of the longer text (URL) you type in your search box or see in the address bar.

For example, is the URL. The bold portion is the domain name.

A top-level domain is the part of the domain name that comes after the last . (dot) in the URL. Remember, we've requested for this example. If the website were, then the request would be sent to the .org root DNS name server.

What Is an IP Address?

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a unique identifier for each device on a computer network. This includes such things as servers, desktops, laptops, printers, and routers. Think of it as the address for your home.

Keep Learning

How Do You Get to a Website?(PDF)

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