When you type a website address (URL) into your web browser’s address bar and hit enter, a series of behind-the-scenes processes take place to connect your computer to the website’s server. This guide will delve into the steps involved in this process, including IP addresses, Domain Name System (DNS), and domain names. Additionally, we’ll mention some popular companies where you can buy domain names and hosting providers to make your website accessible to the world.
- Domain Names and Their Purpose:
Domain names serve as human-readable addresses that are easy to remember and use in place of IP addresses. An IP address, which stands for Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label assigned to each device connected to a computer network. However, using IP addresses to access websites would be impractical for users, as they are long and challenging to remember.
- The Domain Name System (DNS):
The Domain Name System (DNS) is like a massive phone book for the internet. Its primary purpose is to translate human-readable domain names into their corresponding IP addresses, allowing computers to locate and connect to web servers.
- How the DNS Resolves Domain Names:
a. DNS Hierarchy: The DNS operates in a hierarchical structure, starting from the root domain at the top, followed by top-level domains (TLDs), second-level domains (SLDs), and subdomains. For example, in “www.example.com,” “.com” is the TLD, “example” is the SLD, and “www” is a subdomain.
b. DNS Resolution Process: When you enter a URL in your browser, the DNS resolution process begins:
i. Local DNS Cache: Your computer first checks its local DNS cache to see if it has previously resolved the domain name. If it finds a match, the IP address is retrieved directly, saving time.
ii. Recursive DNS Servers: If the domain name is not found in the local cache, your computer contacts a recursive DNS server provided by your internet service provider (ISP). Recursive DNS servers are responsible for finding the IP address on behalf of your computer.
iii. Root DNS Servers: If the recursive DNS server doesn’t have the IP address in its cache, it starts its search from the root DNS servers. These root servers contain information about the TLDs (.com, .org, .net, etc.).
iv. TLD DNS Servers: The root DNS servers direct the recursive server to the TLD DNS servers responsible for the specific domain’s extension (.com, .org, etc.).
v. Authoritative DNS Servers: The TLD DNS server then refers the recursive server to the authoritative DNS servers, which hold the specific IP address information for the domain.
vi. IP Address Retrieval: The recursive DNS server finally receives the IP address from the authoritative DNS server and stores it in its cache.
vii. Returning IP Address: The IP address is sent back to your computer’s browser, which can now use it to establish a connection to the website’s server.
- Purchasing Domain Names:
Several reputable companies offer domain name registration services. Some well-known domain registrars include:
- GoDaddy (www.godaddy.com)
- Namecheap (www.namecheap.com)
- Google Domains (domains.google)
- Bluehost (www.bluehost.com)
- Domain.com (www.domain.com)
- Web Hosting Providers:
After acquiring a domain name, you need a web hosting provider to store your website’s files and make it accessible to visitors. Some popular hosting providers are:
- Bluehost (www.bluehost.com)
- HostGator (www.hostgator.com)
- SiteGround (www.siteground.com)
- DreamHost (www.dreamhost.com)
- A2 Hosting (www.a2hosting.com)
Understanding the process of how a computer finds a website involves the critical components of domain names, IP addresses, and the DNS. The DNS acts as an essential intermediary, translating user-friendly domain names into machine-readable IP addresses. Once you own a domain name, you can use web hosting services to make your website accessible to users all around the world.