What is a DNS server, and how does it work?

In the vast world of the internet, where billions of devices are connected, communication between them relies heavily on a...
5 June 2024

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What is a DNS server, and how does it work?

In the vast world of the internet, where billions of devices are connected, communication between them relies heavily on a fundamental system known as the Domain Name System (DNS)

Understanding what a DNS server is and how it operates is crucial for comprehending the mechanics of internet browsing, emailing, or any online activity. 

Let’s delve into the workings of this essential component of the internet infrastructure.

What is DNS?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the backbone of the internet as we know it. Essentially, it functions as the internet’s phone book. It translates human-friendly domain names, like www.example.com, into numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, like 192.168.1.1, which computers use to identify each other on the network.

Every time you type a URL into your browser or send an email, your device queries a DNS server to locate the corresponding IP address. This process occurs seamlessly in the background, facilitating efficient communication across the internet.

What is a DNS server and how it works

How does DNS work?

As mentioned before, when you type a website address into your browser, your device contacts a DNS server to resolve the domain name to its corresponding IP address. This process involves several steps:

1. Querying the DNS Server

Your device queries your configured DNS server, asking for the IP address associated with the domain name you entered.

2. Recursive Search

If the DNS server has the IP address cached, it returns the information to your device immediately. However, it initiates a recursive search if it doesn’t have the information.

3. Resolving the Domain Name

The DNS server starts by querying the root DNS servers, which maintain a directory of all top-level domain names (TLDs). From there, it narrows down the search, querying authoritative DNS servers responsible for the specific domain in question.

4. Returning the IP Address

Once the authoritative DNS server is located, it returns the IP address associated with the domain name to your device’s DNS resolver, which then caches the information for future use.


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Dynamic DNS vs Static DNS

Dynamic DNS (DDNS) and Static DNS are two different approaches to managing DNS records, each serving distinct purposes based on the requirements of the network or system they support.

What is Dynamic DNS (DDNS)?

Dynamic DNS is a method of automatically updating DNS records in real-time, allowing devices with dynamic IP addresses to maintain consistent accessibility. This is particularly useful for home networks or small businesses where the public IP address assigned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) may change periodically.

How Dynamic DNS Works

A DDNS client installed on the network device regularly monitors changes to the public IP address assigned by the ISP.

When the IP address changes, the DDNS client sends an update to the DDNS provider, informing them of the new IP address.

The DDNS provider updates the DNS records associated with the domain name, ensuring that it points to the correct IP address.

Users can access services hosted on the network using a domain name, regardless of the changing IP address.

Advantages of Dynamic DNS

  • Remote Access: Allows users to remotely access devices or services hosted on a network without needing to know the current IP address.
  • Dynamic IP Support: Ideal for networks with dynamic IP addresses, such as residential internet connections.
  • Cost-effective: Many DDNS providers offer free or low-cost services for personal or small business use.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is the backbone of the internet

What is Static DNS?

Static DNS, on the other hand, involves manually configuring DNS records with fixed IP addresses. This method is typically used for servers or network devices with static IP addresses that do not change frequently.

How Static DNS Works

Network administrators manually configure DNS records with specific IP addresses for each domain or subdomain.

Since the IP addresses are fixed, there is no need for automated updates or dynamic IP tracking.

Static DNS is often preferred for critical services or high-availability applications where consistency and reliability are paramount.

Advantages of Static DNS

  • Predictability: Provides a stable and predictable mapping between domain names and IP addresses, reducing the risk of unexpected changes.
  • Performance: Eliminates the overhead associated with dynamic IP address updates, potentially improving DNS query response times.
  • Security: With no automatic updates, static DNS configurations may offer greater control and security over DNS records.

Choosing Between Dynamic and Static DNS

The choice between dynamic and static DNS depends on factors such as the nature of the network, the frequency of IP address changes, and the level of control required.

  1. Dynamic DNS is preferred for networks with dynamic IP addresses or when remote access is needed.
  2. Static DNS is suitable for servers, critical services, or applications where stability and predictability are essential.
How does DNS work?

DNS and proctoring: ensuring seamless and secure access

Remote proctoring services rely heavily on DNS to ensure seamless and secure access for proctors and test-takers.

Here’s how DNS relates to proctoring:

1. Reliability:

DNS ensures reliable access to online proctoring platforms by translating domain names to IP addresses accurately. A robust DNS infrastructure guarantees that clients and test-takers can access the proctoring service without interruptions, ensuring a smooth testing experience.

2. Security:

DNS also plays a vital role in ensuring the security of online proctoring sessions. By directing users to the correct IP addresses, DNS helps prevent unauthorized access and ensures that proctoring sessions remain confidential and tamper-proof.

3. Performance:

Optimizing DNS configurations can enhance the performance of LMS platforms, reducing latency and improving responsiveness. A fast and efficient DNS resolution process ensures test-takers can access the platform quickly, minimizing wait times and maximizing productivity.

4. Global Accessibility:

DNS allows online proctoring services to be accessible globally, enabling clients to conduct exams and assessments across different regions seamlessly. By leveraging DNS, proctoring platforms can ensure that test-takers worldwide can access the service reliably and securely.

5. Scalability:

As online proctoring services scale to accommodate a growing number of clients and test-takers, DNS is crucial in ensuring scalability. 

A well-designed DNS infrastructure can handle increased traffic and workload efficiently, ensuring that the proctoring platform remains accessible and responsive even during peak usage periods.
Ask us for a free demo and see how SMOWL proctoring plans can also be an excellent ally for delivering reliable, secure, high-performance online exams.


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