We answer: What is DNS and how to use it?

By: Milan Stanojevic
4 minute read

Internet is a big part of our everyday life, and even though most of us use Internet on daily basis, many people don’t know how Internet actually works. Internet relies heavily on DNS, and in case you’re not familiar with it, today we’ll explain you want is DNS and how it works.

What is DNS and how does it work?

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You might have heard a term DNS before. DNS stands for Domain Name System and it’s a standard used for managing IP addresses. DNS was designed in 1983, and it’s a crucial part of Internet that allows us to access websites with ease.

Every website has its own IP address, and computers use that IP address to connect to a certain website. If you’re not familiar with IP addresses, we suggest that you read one of our previous articles and learn what is an IP address and how does it work.

Unlike humans, computers use IP addresses to connect to websites. Every website has its own IP address and you can easily find IP address of any website by following these steps:

  1. Open Command Prompt. To do that, press Windows Key + X to open Power User Menu and select Command Prompt.
    dns-windows-10-command-prompt
  2. When Command Prompt opens enter ping www.google.com. Bear in mind that you can use any other website. Press Enter.
    dns-windows-10-ping-cmd
  3. Now you should see certain IP address, in our case that was 216.58.214.228.

You can even enter that address in your browser and it will open Google’s website for you. Since every website has its own IP address, it would be quite difficult for humans to memorize IP address of every website that they want to access, therefore DNS was invented. To explain it simply, DNS works as a phonebook, it has names of all websites and their IP addresses, and it allows users to quickly find and access a certain website simply by entering its name instead of using the website’s IP address.

In order for DNS to work, it has to use DNS servers. As we mentioned, DNS servers hold information regarding all websites such as the URL of the website and the website’s IP address. When you enter a certain URL into your browser’s address bar, you actually contact a DNS server that searches for an IP address that matches that URL. If the address is found, you are immediately connected to that IP address. If the DNS server doesn’t have that URL and IP address in its database, it will contact a different DNS server and the process will repeat itself until the matching IP address is found.

We have to mention that computers cache DNS responses, and your computer should have IP addresses of websites that you already visited, so you’ll be able to access them faster.

You can easily find the address of the DNS server that you’re using by following these steps:

  1. Press Windows Key + X and select Network Connections from the menu.
    dns-windows-10-network-connections
  2. When Network Connection window opens find your active connection, right click it and choose Status.
    dns-windows-10-status-network
  3. Click the Details button.
    dns-windows-10-details
  4. Locate IPv4 DNS Servers property and you should see the address of your current DNS server.
    dns-windows-10-ipv4-dns-server

Alternatively, you can see the address of your DNS server by using Command Prompt. To do that, open Command Prompt and enter ipconfig /all | findstr /R “DNS\ Servers”.

dns-windows-10-dns-server-cmd

If you’re using a router, it’s most likely that the router is forwarding your requests to your ISP’s DNS servers. Bear in mind that you don’t have to use your ISP’s DNS servers since you can easily change that address to any other DNS server, such as Google’s Public DNS for example. If your ISP DNS servers are slow, you might want to consider using a custom DNS server. To set the preferred DNS server do the following:

  1. Open Network Connections, locate your current connection, right click it and choose Properties from the menu.
    dns-windows-10-properties
  2. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click the Properties button.
    dns-windows-10-properties-ipv4
  3. Select Use the following DNS server addresses and enter their IP addresses. For Google’s Public DNS the addresses are 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.
    dns-windows-10-dns-change
  4. Click Apply and OK to save changes.

Bear in mind that sometimes custom DNS servers might work slower for you, so if you don’t have any problems with your current DNS server you shouldn’t change it.

It’s worth mentioning that sometimes malicious software and users can change your preferred DNS server and lead you to scam websites designed to steal your personal information. If you notice anything strange with websites that you frequently visit, be sure to check your DNS settings.

DNS is an integral part of Internet, and without it Internet wouldn’t be the same. We hope that you learned a thing or two from this article and that you now better understand how Internet and DNS work.

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