What is DNS? What does it do?

According to siteefy.com, there were approximately 341.7 million registered domains as of Q4 of 2021 and 1,591 domain root types (.com, .net, .org, etc.). WOWZA.  While not every registered domain has an associated website, most do.

With each site having one to several thousand pages, how does a phone or computer find the correct page to display when a website address is entered into a browser? If you’re a website owner, this is an important question.

Here are some things to know about DNS, domain, WordPress, and how these pieces connect so people can find your website on the internet.

What Is DNS?

The Domain Name System (DNS) takes domain names and turns them into IP addresses for users to access on the internet. - a dark haired woman in a yellow sweater looks upset at her computer, a glass of yellow orange liquid beside her.

Is this code for someone yelling at me about an email I shouldn’t have sent? DO NOT SEND! QUICK RECALL! RECALL!

Lets calm the chaos of the picture we just painted. What actually is a DNS?

You typically enter a URL or click on a URL link in your web browser to visit a website. A URL, which stands for Uniform Resource Locator, is a web address that corresponds to a specific page on a website. An example of a URL is https://ishouldbeyourwpguy.com/what-is-seo/.

Within any URL is the domain name for the website. The domain name is often the name of the website. For the above URL example, the domain name is ishouldbeyourwpguy.

What you don’t see in your web browser when you visit a web page is what is going on “behind the scenes” to access that web page. This is where DNS comes in.

Every domain name is mapped to one or more IP (internet protocol) addresses. The IP address is the address a computer uses to locate a website. An example of an IP address is 203.0.113.75. All IP addresses look similar.

Imagine if you had to remember a string of numbers for every website you needed to visit. It would be hard. Most of us can barely remember phone numbers. Besides my Mom’s. I know hers by heart…

So people use domain names, and computers use IP addresses to locate a website. The domain name system, or DNS, is the process that maps IP addresses to corresponding domain names.

How Does DNS Work?

When a URL or domain name is converted into an IP address, the process is called DNS resolution. Basic DNS resolution works as follows:

A web address or domain name is entered into a web browser. The web browser then sends a DNS query to a name server to determine the IP address of the domain name entered into the web browser.

The web page will load once the look-up is complete and the IP address is returned. If the query cannot find the necessary information, it will return an error message.

This process often involves querying several different name servers before it finds the information it needs, but it usually only takes a fraction of a second. If only you could get your spouse to take the garbage out that fast…

DNS, Domain, WordPress: How Do They Work Together?

The Domain Name System (DNS) takes domain names and turns them into IP addresses for users to access on the internet. - 2 women and a man sit at a cluttered table, an empty bird cage sits behind them next to some plants

So what does DNS have to do with your WordPress site?

As a WordPress site owner, you need to ensure your DNS records are set up correctly so your website displays when someone enters your web address into their web browser. Here are some things to know.

Before setting up a website, you first must choose and register a domain name. Then you must obtain web hosting for your new WordPress site. The newly hosted website has an IP address.

Once you assign your domain name to the website, the domain name and IP address become linked. You can then install WordPress and begin setting up your site.

DNS records for a website go beyond linking the domain name and IP address.

There are many different types of DNS records, and they can be configured in many ways. These include allowing both the www version and the non-www version of a URL to resolve to the same IP, setting up email addresses using the domain name, setting up subdomains, and more.

DNS records must be set up precisely, or your domain name might not resolve to the proper IP address, preventing people from being able to access your site. There are a few DNS record types you should be familiar with:

A Record

The most common DNS record type, an A Record is used to connect a domain name to an IP address. This A Record is typically used in the domain name resolution process described above.

CNAME Record

The CNAME Record is an alias record used to map one domain to another. For example, you can create a CNAME record that instructs www.mysite.com to resolve to mysite.com.

MX Record

MX Records are Mail Exchange records used to designate the IP address of a domain’s mail server. Chances are, you have one or more email addresses associated with your website. The DNS server of your email provider uses the MX Records to know the IP address of the email server to which it needs to connect and send an email.

Each type of DNS record has different configuration rules and requirements. Setting them up requires some technical know-how that many site owners don’t have.

Do You Need Help with Your DNS Records?

DNS, domain, WordPress — they must all work together correctly for your site visitors to view your website. If you’re not familiar with DNS records and how to set them up, you could make a mistake preventing your site from resolving correctly.

Hiring someone familiar with DNS records and WordPress can ensure you get your website up and running without a headache. A WordPress pro can also help you maintain your WordPress site so it runs efficiently.

If you need help setting up or maintaining your WordPress site, schedule an appointment with us. We’ll work with you to ensure your DNS records and WordPress installation are configured correctly.

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