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How visitors get to your web site: DNS - Domain Name System

As a domain name registrant and web hosting account owner, you'll likely hear the term "DNS" and "name server" from time to time. So what is DNS and how does it work?

Every device that connects to the Internet - whether it's your home computer, a mobile phone or a web host's server, is issued with an IP address. An IP address is a unique identifier; a set of numbers (and these days, sometimes letters as well) assigned to a device that can't be used by any other device at the same time. The Internet is based on these IP address sets.

While your computer may be assigned a different IP address each time you log on to the Internet from home; web hosting services have a range of addresses assigned to them which usually do not change, or change often. 

For example, if you type this into your web browser: 119.81.196.194 - it will take you to the web site of Domain Name Registrar (Australia) Pty Ltd. 

It's far easier to remember a domain name such as DomainRegistration.com.au than a set of numbers such as the above - and that's where DNS (Domain Name System) comes into play.

The Domain Name System works its magic, translating the name into an IP address character set, courtesy of a DNS server, or name server. The Domain Name System is located on millions of servers around the world and is updated by root servers, but behaves like a single database. 

When you enter a web address into your browser, the browser contacts a name server in order to get the IP address equivalent. When you first connect to the Internet for an online session, which name server your browser will access is already specified, ready to go. 

If that name server hasn't had a request for the domain name you've typed in recently and the details aren't cached, it then contacts another server higher in the DNS heirachy. If that server doesn't have the information cached, it forwards the request to a server that handles the top level extension, such as .com.au in the case of DomainRegistration.com.au. A server handling all .com.au information would definitely have the IP address details and passes them back. 

Once all that is settled, your browser is directed to the name server of the web host to which that IP address is assigned, the host's server looks at the request and the correct page from the correct site is fetched. 

This all sounds horribly complicated and even the above is greatly simplified, but from the time of the request from the browser to the hosting service responding is just seconds - and to think, much of this complexity and the need for domain names is simply due to the fact we aren't very good at remembering strings of numbers!

Thinking of registering a domain name? Pick up some tips for choosing good domain names.

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How to register a name: Enter your choice in the search tool and click 'GO'. If after the check the domain names search results show your choice is available, you will then have the option to proceed to purchase registration; which is a very quick and easy process - start a search and find your ideal website address now.