What is DNS?

Quite obviously, there are many differences between humans and computers. You may be wondering why this is important. Such a vague statement can’t be that important, can it?

Well, actually it can. This is because one of the biggest differences between humans and computers is how we communicate. Set aside for a moment that you don’t know how computers communicate (unless, of course, you do).

For the moment, that isn’t important. The only important thing at this stage is understanding that humans and computers communicate differently with each other. So, how are they different? What do computers do to communicate that is so different than how we, as humans, do?

First, being marginally more specific, humans don’t communicate in numbers–and computers do. Wouldn’t you feel strange if someone referred to you as Of course you would! What if someone told you to go to Would you know what they were talking about?

Essentially, this is where the problem comes in. Just as we wouldn’t understand what someone were saying if they told us to go to, computers would have no way to understand us if we told them to go to www.Google.com–that is, if we didn’t have DNS, of course.

Fundamentally, humans and computers use different languages in order to communicate, and, if there weren’t a way to translate between our language and that of machines, we wouldn’t be able to use the Internet to do anything.

So, how do we overcome this gap? How can our computers understand us when we tell them to go to www.google.com? That’s where DNS comes in. DNS stands for Domain Name System. Basically, the DNS was designed to bridge this communication gap between humans and computers so that we can communicate effectively. In order to do this, the DNS translates between our language and that of computers.

More specifically, while we use words, networked computers communicate with each other by attempting to access IP addresses. Chances are, you’re already familiar with IP addresses, even if you aren’t entirely sure what it is.

Essentially, the DNS exists to correlate names of websites with their numbers. That way, if we choose to go to a website that we’ve never gone to before (familiar websites and their IPs are stored in our cache), our computers can make contact with the DNS server in order to make contact with that website’s IP address, allowing us to browse the web.