DNS Terminology and Concepts
One of the most difficult steps for many novice website owners is learning how to configure servers and websites. Network configuration is often left to other professionals, simply because one false move can make your entire enterprise unavailable. While it’s no secret that dealing with DNS, or Domain Name System, protocol isn’t the easiest to understand, you can jumpstart your skill with this essential communication protocol by taking time to investigate its fundamental purpose and terminology.
DNS Protocol – A Brief Outline
Before diving into some of the most essential terms and concepts in our DNS Guide for Beginners, let’s briefly discuss the purpose of DNS. When you connect to the internet, your devices and servers agree to connections by identifying each domain. During the first part of the internet age, accessing websites required typing in the actual IP address for the domain.
This obviously wasn’t going to work as the internet began to expand and network connections grew stronger. DNS protocol acts as a translator between user and machinery. The data collected and transmitted assists in not only directing web browsers to the proper websites, but also in safeguarding and supporting email flow.
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Essential DNS Terminology & Concepts
Understanding how DNS works with your enterprise is only effective if you know what you’re reading. The following are the most important terms you should learn when dealing with network connections:
- IP Address – This is the actual addressable location of a domain/machine. Every IP address is unique for the network it uses. The format is typically four sets of numerical identifiers. Each set may contain up to three digits, and sets are separated by a dot (period). For example, 777.222.555.111
- Name Server – Have you ever tried to change the web hosting provider for a domain name? If so, then you’re likely familiar with the concept of a name server. These specialized components power the DNS system and are responsible for directing requests when it comes to determining where a domain name is hosted.
- Zone Files – Essentially, a zone file is a straightforward text file that literally maps IP address and domain names. DNS servers use this file to determine what domain name should be connected with what IP address. These files are typically found within name servers and are used as the definitive instruction guide when allocating resources for a specific domain (address).
- Root Servers – In a fundamental understanding, DNS protocol calls upon a hierarchal approach to operation. The foundation of this protocol is based upon Root Servers, which are run by a variety of authorized organizations, which are delegated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). There are only 13 root servers in operation throughout the world, which adds even more allure to this unique and somewhat mystical concept.