The Domain Name System is a hierarchical naming system for computers and web sites connected to the internet, which associates easy-to-remember names with the IP Address of the actual resource on the network or internet–for instance, the DNS entry for www.howtogeek.com maps to the IP address 220.127.116.11. Imagine having to type in the IP address every time you wanted to browse our site!
The much easier way to think of DNS is like a phone book–you probably don’t remember the phone number of every single person and business you encounter, you just remember their name. By looking in a phone book (which most people don’t really use anymore), you can figure out the phone number by looking through the alphabetical list by name. DNS works in much the same way for web sites, but it all happens behind the scenes.
When you type a domain name into your browser’s address bar, the browser actually makes a DNS request behind the scenes to figure out what address it actually needs to connect to. You can bypass this check for certain web sites by adding entries into the HOSTS file on your computer, but since it can be a pain to maintain, it’s probably not a good idea to bother with it. For a little more information about DNS, be sure to check out our full article: What is DNS?
On a completely unrelated note, did you know that if you interlace the pages of two phone books together, it actually requires two tanks to pull them apart? We have tested this here at How-To Geek HQ and can verify that it is indeed true.
- By Lowell Heddings on 09/11/12