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What is DNS?

Domain Name System, or DNS, is the backbone of your online presence. Every domain name uses DNS to control how visitors find your website and how you receive email. You can think of your domain name as a street address, and DNS acts as your GPS. Visitors won’t be able to find your address if the GPS isn’t able to provide the correct directions. This means that if your DNS isn’t correct, your website and email won’t work the way they should.

When you type in a domain name in your internet browser, DNS works to find the information for that domain. Domains are a friendly way for us to remember how to get to a website, but underneath that friendly name, computers talk to each other using numbers. These numbers form Internet Protocol, or IP addresses, which act as the street address of your website working under your domain name.

When you type a domain name in your address bar to visit a website, your computer is looking for the IP address of that website so it can load the website for you. This is DNS in action — you type in the street address (the domain name), DNS finds the directions using IP address (the GPS), and the internet loads the website you’re visiting.

In order to get you to your destination, DNS contains three main pieces to work properly: nameservers, zone files and records. Nameservers hold the zone file and the zone file holds the records. The records are the part of DNS that explains where your website lives or where you get your email, using IP addresses, but the records won’t work if the nameservers aren’t set up correctly.

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