DNS or Domain Name System belongs to the family of internet protocols and is used to resolve domain names, that is, to determine the IP address of the server where the domain we want to access is hosted. The web pages we can see when looking at the Internet have their own IP addresses, just like our computer, router, or any device connected to the Internet.
What DNS does over the internet protocol is to convert human-readable domain names into binary identifiers associated with networked computers. Without this domain name system, instead of writing a URL as we know it, we would write an IP address, a confusing series of numbers that are difficult to process and memorize, so this system has made navigation much easier for internet users.
How does DNS work?
The concept of DNS arose from the need to remember the names of all servers connected to the Internet. We’re talking about the 80s. These protocols have evolved over the years in response to the explosion of internet usage in recent years. Each of our internet-connected devices has a DNS client that is responsible for knowing the IP address we want to reach.
When typing an Internet address into the browser, the DNS client requests the IP from the server, and the server returns the information necessary for the computer to know the IP of the site. This process, which takes milliseconds, consists of a chain of events that starts after we enter the domain name we want to access. First of all, since the computer is registered in temporary memory, it checks the IP of the site we want to reach in the DNS cache to see if it has been visited before.
If it is not registered, the request will be forwarded to the local DNS server, which will check its own temporary memory and if they cannot find the IP, it will forward it to the root server of the domain, which will return this information. With the IP address that the DNS server tells you, your device and browser eventually display the content of the web page.
The internet protocol on which DNS operates
DNS servers work with both Internet Protocol version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and Internet Protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6). It will work as long as you use the correct DNS address of your preferred DNS service. Companies that provide DNS services offer IPv4 addresses as standard, but some companies also support IPv6. The DNS address of both protocols is different. You can test which protocol your computer is using here (internet protocol test tool).
To change your DNS settings in Windows, simply open the Network Connections window in the control panel. Right-click on WiFi if you’re connecting wirelessly, or Ethernet if you’re connecting wired, and select Properties. Click where it says Internet Protocol version 4 (TCP/IPv4) or Internet Protocol version 6 (TCP/IPv6), do not uncheck it. Then click Properties at the bottom again and on the General tab you now have the option to enter the DNS values you want to use.
In macOS you need to go to System Preferences > Internet & Wireless > Network. Select the wireless or wired connection and click Advanced. You can enter your DNS address in the DNS tab. After changing this configuration, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of having an external DNS server.