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DNS Basics and Terms

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2011 03:48PM EDT

We are going to start by giving a brief description of the basic workings and terms of the DNS (Domain Name System). If you are already familiar with DNS you can skip this section.

Basic DNS Terms

IP Address

Every server on the internet has a unique number used to identify it. This unique number is called an IP address. These IP addresses are used to locate servers on the internet when a request is made to them. A popular analogy is a phone number.

Domain Name

A domain name is the unique identifier for your website. These are human friendly names you can type into the location bar of a web browser. Web browsers use these to find your website on the vast internet. An example domain name would be grocerywebsite.com.

Name Servers

A name server is a computer which hosts information about your domain name. These name servers store a zone file for each domain name. These zone files act like indexes for services (website, email, FTP or etc) provided through the domain name.

The two most common services stored in a zone file are website and email. The zone file will store the IP address of the internet server handling each service for the domain. Your zone file will will typically have one record for the IP address of your website server and another record for your email server’s IP address.

Most name servers have a website you can go to that allows you to easily manage your domain.

Domain Registrar

A domain name registrar is an organization that has been granted authority to issue and manage domain names. These are the companies you can buy domain names form, and often offer a variety of other services as well. Examples of these are GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Gandi, DNSimple & etc.

Most registrars offer full management of your domain name's DNS setting via a friendly web interface. Most likely you are using one of these.

See our articles for managing DNS at:

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