What is DNS?

Every time you follow a link or type in the name of a web site, such as www.boutell.com, that name must be translated into an IP address on the Internet. This translation is done by the domain name system. A DNS server is a program that participates in the task of providing this sevice. Some DNS servers respond to queries from web browsers and other programs, make further inquiries, and return IP addresses, such as, which is the current IP address of www.boutell.com.

Other DNS servers have primary responsibility for answering DNS inquiries about names within a particular domain, such as the boutell.com domain. Every time a new domain is registered, a DNS server must be configured to give out address information for that domain, so that users can actually find web sites in that domain. In most cases, web hosting companies provide this service for the domains that they host; it is rare for webmasters to run their own DNS servers. For more information, see setting up web sites.