How the Domain Name System Works

How the Domain Name System Works(Ping! Zine Web Tech Magazine) – If you’ve ever set up a website, you should be at least slightly familiar with the Domain Name System (DNS). We’ve discussed elements about domain names, such as, in the past. DNS is the system that converts a domain name into an IP address, which allows computers to identify other computers and servers on the internet. An IP address is a numerical label assigned to any device attached to the network. So in other words, the DNS allows you to use the easy-to-remember domain name of a website instead of its actual address on the internet, and it figures out the rest. This process is referred to as DNS name resolution.

Domain Name Elements

To explain the specific elements of a domain name, we will use as an example. As you may know, the last portion of this name – .com – represents the generic top-level domain (gTLD). Currently, some of the most common gTLDs are .com, .net, .org, etc. But as we have announced earlier this month, there will be many, many more gTLDs available later this year.

Underneath the top-level portion of the domain name, the next level down in our example is “1and1”. This refers to the specific organization of 1and1 below the .com gTLD. Sometimes, websites can have a hierarchy of sub-domains even below that, such as the Online Success Center’s sub-domain name of In that example, “success” is a sub-domain of “1and1”. The last element of a domain name (the one that is listed first, such as “www”) is the host name. This host name is a label assigned to any device connected to the network for identification.

Registering the Domain

As you can tell, the domain name process can be very complicated. Luckily, when it comes to registering a domain name there are registrars that have authority to register your domain name of choice for you. By using an official registrar, such as 1&1 Internet, the first thing you should do is check if your desired domain name is available. The registrar should display which gTLDs the domain name is available under, and provide you the option to register the name under one or more of them (.com, .org, .co, etc.).

Once you have registered your domain name, you should direct the registrar to point that name to the IP address where your website is hosted. To make this easier, you can also host your domain within the registrar’s own DNS configuration.

This is of course just a simplified overview of how the domain name system works, but hopefully it helps in your understanding of what your domain name actually means, and what happens “behind the scenes” when you visit a website. For more information, check out 1&1’s Help Center on this same topic.

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