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What is a Domain Name System?

Updated on November 29, 2011
Domain Name Server
Domain Name Server | Source

Ever heard the network support staff talk inexplicable stuff that was punctuated with an occasional DNS this or DNS that? Let’s try to decode what they were saying when they said DNS. So what the heck is a DNS (Domain Name System/Server)? Well, it is a protocol that defines how your computer communicates on the internet and on a private network. Of course there are many other protocols involved in the infrastructure but let’s consider them irrelevant for the purpose of this hub. We just want to know what a Domain Name System is.

The principal function of the domain name system is to map the user friendly domain names to their respective IP addresses. IP is the abbreviation for Internet Protocol. I know, I promised not to mention other protocols but I can’t think of any other way to describe DNS without mentioning IP. When you register a domain name, all you will see is a good name like That’s what a domain name is generally speaking. But in real sense, the domain name is actually identified by a set of four numbers separated by periods. For instance, is actually 66.211.109. 131. That is called an IP address. You can actually access websites by typing their IP addresses in the address bar. (However, some firewalls block accessing websites via IP so it might not work). It would be impossible for us to remember all those numbers so the good guys helped us. We just type the word version of the IP, what we call the domain name.

When you enter a domain name in the address bar, the Domain Name System will resolve it to its relevant IP address. Let’s use the analogy of a cell phone. When you want to call someone, you go to your address book, search for his name, and call. When was the last time you dialed the number from memory? Of course it will still work but you rarely do that. Why cram numbers in your head when you can simply go to the address book right? Well, that’s how the domain name system works. When you want to access a website, the domain name system is like your address book. It fetches the website for you by translating the domain name you type into the respective IP address. The web servers will only understand the IP address language- and you will probably not. So the DNS becomes like an interface between you and the web servers. Thank goodness!

So does that mean that you can bypass the interface? Absolutely! When you enter the IP address in the address bar instead of using the domain name, the Domain Name System will have no function. So you will have bypassed it. But why go to the trouble? Well, there are many scenarios including illegally accessing blocked websites. But I won’t advise you to do illegal things. But i know if you are really curious, you are probably asking, “How do I know the IP of a website?”

I am glad you asked. There are many tools you can use but let me share the best two. The first is Just enter the domain name and hit enter. Once you get the results, click on the server stats tab and you should see the Ip address of the domain. The second way is to use MsDos. Just click on start>run and type cmd then hit the return key. You will be redirected to the command prompt. Now enter the command ping -t then press enter. That will reveal the domain IP. You are almost a geek now. You can thank me by voting the hub up :)


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    • ronhi profile image

      ronhi 6 years ago from Kenya

      Patkay, good hearing from you again. Thanks for your continued support.

    • Patkay profile image

      Patrick Kamau 6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks man for this important hub. It is well presented and useful for, as you have said, those who want to become computer geeks.