What’s a Domain Name Server?

September 18, 2009

A Domain Name Server (DNS) serves a very important role in on the internet. We humans prefer names over numbers. I know this because my name is Drew and not 48439834344. When it comes to computers, however, they prefer numbers.

Every computer on the internet has a numerical address called an IP address. An example of an IP address is When you type in a website like www.google.com, that means something  to you, but in order for your computer to find www.google.com, it needs the numerical address. That’s where DNS comes in. A DNS is like a cross reference from the name of a website to its numerical address.

So, using our example above, when you type in www.google.com, your computer goes to your DNS and finds that the IP address for www.google.com is and then uses that to contact www.google.com.

Your internet service provider assigns your computer an IP address and a DNS server. Sometimes, a faulty modem or router can prevent a DNS from being assigned to your computer. Your computer is on the internet, but you can’t do anything because you have no DNS server and so you can’t find any servers. That means you can’t access any websites. You can’t get your e-mail. You can’t instant message. You can’t do anything on the internet without DNS!

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