What is DNS and how does it work?

What is DNS and how does it work?

Additional caching can occur on the routers used to connect clients to the internet, as well as on the servers of the user’s ISP. With so much caching going on, the number of queries that actually make it to the DNS name servers is significantly reduced, which helps with the speed and efficiency of the system.

How does the DNS numbering system work?

Every device that connects to the internet needs to have a unique IP address in order to have traffic properly routed to it. DNS translates human queries into numbers using a system known as IPv4 or IPv6. With IPv4, the numbers are 32-bit integers that are expressed in decimal notation.

The string of numbers is divided into sections, which include the network component, the host and the subnet, not dissimilar to a telephone number that might have a country code, an area code, etc. The network part of the number designates the class and category of network that is assigned to that number. The host identifies the specific machine on the network. The subnet part of the number is optional but is used to navigate the sometimes extremely large number of subnets and other partitions within a local network.

IPv6, which was created to address concerns about the internet running out of IPv4 addresses, uses 128-bit-sized numbers, compared to 32-bit numbers with IPv4. There are 340 trillion trillion possible IPv6 addresses.

Who assigns IP addresses?

In 1998, the U.S. government handed the task of assigning IP addresses over to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN). The not-for-profit organization has managed that function ever since without any notable disruptions. ICANN develops policies on things like the creation of new top-level domains (such as .io).

For the most part, ICANN takes a neutral and advisory role. For example, anyone who wants to register a domain on the internet today can go to any number of ICANN-accredited registrars, which basically decentralizes the already decentralized DNS system. Once registered, new domains can populate and be reached worldwide via DNS servers in a matter of minutes.


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