DNS and how to explain it?

What’s an easy way to explain DNS to somebody?

I.E. to someone that hardly knows anything about the web.


Every computer on the internet is assigned a unique number called an IP address, and it works kind of like a street address in telling other computers where it’s located.

When you go to a website, you’re actually accessing the website saved on some company’s computer somewhere.

You type a domain name, like “google.com”, into your browser to get to that site. DNS is the system that lets your computer figure out which IP address goes with “google.com” so your computer can talk to the computer that runs that website. DNS is like the yellow pages for IP addresses, you look up a name and it gives you back their address.


Simple way is to describe it like a phone directory, you lookup a name and it gives you the number for it - That’s how we explain it to people if they ask.

Of course it’s a bit more complicated then that, as the “phone book” you look in, will have to go and ask questions of several other “phone books” usually, but that usually starts to confuse people.


best thing - search RFC dns… you get the most accurate info from IETF.

these are great examples, thanks


Whilst it’ll be technically accurate, it’s going to confuse 99.9% of Internet users :slight_smile:


Take a look at this Wikipedia article:

It’s pretty in-depth.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical naming system for computers, services, or any resource participating in the Internet. It associates various information with domain names assigned to such participants. Most importantly, it translates domain names meaningful to humans into the numerical (binary) identifiers associated with networking equipment for the purpose of locating and addressing these devices world-wide. An often used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the “phone book” for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses.

That is a great example good idea.