Understanding DNS Server, A Comprehensive Guide

Published on 25 March 2024

What is DNS Server, Function, How it Works, Structure and Benefits

In today’s digital era, the internet is an inseparable element of our daily lives. However, few realize that our ease of using the internet is largely supported by a tool called DNS server. 

Although often forgotten, DNS servers play an important role in making our internet navigation easier by converting numerical addresses into more user-friendly domain names. Want to know how vital this tool is to your browsing experience? Find out through this article. 

DNS Server Definition

To understand what a DNS Server is, we must start by understanding the definition of DNS itself. Here are some explanations to help you understand better. 

DNS, the “Address Book”

DNS functions as the internet’s address book, translating domain names like ‘google.com’ into the numerical IP addresses required for computer connections, such as ‘74.125.224.72’. This system bridges the gap between user-friendly website names and the digital coordinates used by the internet to route data, making it easy to locate and access any website without the need to memorize complex numbers. 

DNS Server, the “Librarian”

A DNS server acts as a librarian for the digital address book. It matches the domain name you enter with its corresponding IP address, guiding your browser to the correct online destination. This process allows for easy access to websites, like finding a book in a library by its title rather than memorizing its shelf location. 

Don’t confuse them as identical, while closely interconnected, DNS and DNS servers each play unique roles. 

DNS Functions

What is the Function of DNS

DNS is crucial for translating domain names to IP addresses and serves other important functions that enhance the internet experience. For example. 

Translates Domain Names to IP Addresses

DNS converts human-readable domain names (e.g., ‘google.com’) into numerical IP addresses (e.g., 74.125.224.72), enabling web browsers to load websites. 

Manages Traffic Load

For high-traffic sites, DNS distributes requests across several servers, optimizing website performance and reliability. 

Facilitates Email Delivery

By utilizing MX records (directs email to a mail server), DNS directs email to the correct mail servers, ensuring email communications are accurately routed. 

Enhances Security

DNS extensions, like DNSSEC, protect against cyber threats, verifying website authenticity to prevent users from being redirected to malicious sites. 

Speeds Up Web Access

DNS servers cache query results, reducing lookup times for subsequent visits to the same websites, thus speeding up web browsing. 

How Does a DNS Server Work?

A DNS server plays a crucial role in accessing websites on the internet. Here are the steps involved in how a DNS server connects your device to the desired website:  

1. User Query Initiation

When you enter a website name like ‘google.com’ into your browser, a DNS search to find its IP address begins.  

2. Recursive Resolver Activation

The resolver, part of the DNS server, starts the search by checking its cache to see if the IP address has been stored previously to expedite the process.  

3. Nameserver Consultations

The resolver “consults” with the root nameserver and TLD (Top-Level Domain) to determine the authoritative nameserver domain responsible for the searched domain. 

4. Authoritative Nameserver Lookup & Response

The authoritative nameserver provides the correct IP address, which is then forwarded by the resolver to your browser so you can access the website. 

 5. Caching for Future Efficiency

After obtaining the IP address, the DNS server stores it in its cache to expedite future visits. If the website is revisited, the process will be faster.  

DNS Server Structure

Comprehending the functionality of DNS servers requires an understanding of their structure, which can be broadly divided into two main components: the DNS hierarchy and the zones and records within DNS. 

The DNS hierarchy organizes internet navigation efficiently, starting with Root Servers that direct queries to Top-Level Domain (TLD) servers based on extensions like “.com” or “.org”. These TLD servers then point to the Authoritative DNS Servers, which have the definitive IP addresses for domains. This structured approach ensures precise query resolution. 

Complementing this hierarchy, DNS zones and records offer detailed management of domain configurations. Zones enable administrative oversight within the internet’s domain structure, while records handle specific functions—linking domain names to IP addresses, directing emails via MX Records, and creating aliases with CNAME Records. NS and PTR records further support authority delegation and reverse lookups, streamlining internet navigation by weaving together these hierarchical and administrative elements. 

Understanding Different Types of DNS Servers

There are four main types of DNS servers, each with their own unique role: 

Recursive Resolver

Your first stop when you search for a website. It looks for the domain’s IP address, starting with its cache for a quick answer. If it doesn’t have the info, it reaches out to other DNS servers. 

Root Nameserver

The gateway to more specific info, directing the recursive resolver to the right TLD nameserver based on the domain’s extension (.com, .net, etc.). Despite there being 13 types, multiple instances ensure fast global responses. 

TLD Nameserver

Specializes in domains under a particular extension, guiding the recursive resolver to the domain’s authoritative nameserver. Overseen by IANA, it separates domains into generic (.com, .org) and country code (.uk, .us) TLDs. 

Authoritative Nameserver

The final authority, holding the domain’s specific DNS records. It provides the exact IP address or points to another domain for further lookup. Enhanced with Anycast routing for reliability, it completes the journey by connecting your browser to the desired site. 

Advantages of Using DNS Server

Advantages of Using a DNS Server 

Using DNS servers greatly enhances our internet experience by streamlining access to websites with easy-to-remember domain names, rather than complex numerical IP addresses. They improve web browsing speed through caching, offer enhanced security options, and even provide solutions for navigating internet censorship.  

With that said, here are some of the main benefits of using a DNS server: 

Simplifies Internet Access

DNS servers map domain names to IP addresses, facilitating easy website access. 

Domain Management Simplified

Changes in a website’s IP only require updates at the DNS server, streamlining domain management. 

Speeds Up Web Page Loading

Stores IP address information in cache to accelerate repeated website access. 

Enhances Privacy and Security

Features like DNS over HTTPS encrypt data, protecting it from unauthorized access. 

Overcomes Website Blocking

Smart DNS features allow bypassing government or ISP web restrictions. 

These benefits are instrumental in ensuring that users can enjoy a seamless, efficient, and secure online experience. 

Disadvantages of Using DNS Server

Despite their numerous benefits, DNS servers are not without their downsides, such as: 

Dependency Concerns

Problems with a DNS server can impede internet access. 

Speed Limitations

Servers with limited capacity may slow down website loading times. 

Feature Limitations

Some DNS servers may lack essential features like Smart DNS or DNS over HTTPS. 

While DNS servers are indispensable for navigating the internet, they come with their set of challenges, including security vulnerabilities, reliance on server reliability, and limitations in speed and features. F5 BIG-IP DNS on Central Data Technology (CDT) presents a sophisticated solution designed to address these disadvantages, enhancing the effectiveness of DNS server usage while minimizing potential drawbacks. 

Overcoming Limitations with F5 BIG-IP DNS

Overcoming DNS Server Limitations with F5 BIG-IP DNS

Source: F5 BIG-IP DNS Product Overview 

F5 BIG-IP DNS is a DNS operation designed for large-scale, fluctuating query requests, guaranteed security, and efficient management. It overcomes the bottlenecks of conventional DNS servers, strengthening reliability and web efficiency for businesses. 

The innovation of F5 BIG-IP DNS lies in its capacity to handle up to 100 million responses per second, essential for dealing with sudden spikes in requests. With support for multicore scalability, express DNS, and IP anycast integration, the solution guarantees effective query processing and high application performance, making it a robust solution to the limitations of traditional DNS servers. 

F5 BIG-IP DNS Key Benefits

F5 BIG-IP DNS by CDT effectively mitigates the common disadvantages of traditional DNS servers, providing a resilient, high-performance solution for today’s complex digital environments. Its strategic approach to 

Unparalleled DNS Performance

Its hyper scaling capabilities allow for managing vast volumes of DNS queries without compromising on speed or reliability. 

Comprehensive Security

Address the critical need for secure DNS operations, protecting applications from potential threats that can cause customer and revenue loss. 

Increased Scalability through Enhanced Caching and Resolving

Increase DNS caching and enable independent DNS resolution, drastically reducing DNS latency and improving system scalability. 

Simplified DNS Network Management

Network maintenance and growth will become simpler, and traffic demand with users will be more available with easier management. 

Read more: A to Z DNS Management to Enhancing Website Performance and Security 

Central Data Technology: Ensuring Reliable DNS

Central Data Technology (CDT), as F5 ‘s authorized partner in Indonesia, will provide comprehensive IT solutions to meet your business needs. 

Supported by a professional, experienced, and certified IT team, CDT will also help you through the consultation, deployment, management, and after sales support stages so that you can avoid trial and error when implementing the F5 BIG-IP DNS solution. 

Interested in using the F5 BIG-IP DNS solution? Contact us by clicking this link here. 

Writer: Danurdhara Suluh Prasasta
Content Writer Intern CTI Group 

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