What Is DNS Server Lookup?


Scott Campbell

What Is DNS Server Lookup?

A DNS (Domain Name System) server lookup is a crucial process in accessing websites and other online resources. When you enter a URL or click on a link, your computer needs to translate the human-readable domain name into an IP address that the internet can understand. This translation is done by DNS servers.

Understanding DNS Servers

DNS servers act as the phonebooks of the internet. They store records that map domain names to their corresponding IP addresses. When you type a URL into your web browser, it sends a request to a DNS server to find the IP address associated with that domain name.

There are different types of DNS servers, including:

  • Recursive DNS Servers: These servers handle requests from client devices and perform all necessary lookups to return the final IP address.
  • Authoritative DNS Servers: These servers have the official records for specific domains and provide answers when queried about those domains.
  • Caching DNS Servers: These servers store recently accessed IP addresses in their cache, speeding up subsequent requests for the same domain.

The DNS Lookup Process

The DNS lookup process involves multiple steps:

  1. Step 1: Local Cache Lookup
  2. Your computer first checks its local cache for any previously resolved IP addresses associated with the requested domain name. If found, it skips further lookup steps and uses the cached IP address directly.

  3. Step 2: Recursive Server Query
  4. If no cached record is found, your computer queries a recursive DNS server provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This server checks its cache for the requested domain’s IP address. If not found, it proceeds to the next step.

  5. Step 3: Root Server Query
  6. If the recursive server doesn’t have the IP address, it contacts a root DNS server. There are 13 sets of root servers strategically distributed worldwide.

    These servers maintain a database of authoritative DNS servers for each Top-Level Domain (TLD), like .com or .org.

  7. Step 4: TLD Server Query
  8. The root server responds with the IP address of the TLD server responsible for the requested domain. The recursive server then queries this TLD server.

  9. Step 5: Authoritative Server Query
  10. The TLD server provides the IP address of the authoritative DNS server responsible for the requested domain. The recursive server finally queries this authoritative server.

  11. Step 6: Record Retrieval
  12. The authoritative DNS server responds with the requested IP address. The recursive DNS server caches this record and returns it to your computer. Your computer also caches this record, so future requests can be resolved faster.


    In summary, DNS server lookup is a fundamental process that translates domain names into IP addresses, allowing us to access websites and online resources on the internet. Understanding how this process works can help troubleshoot network issues and appreciate the complex infrastructure behind our everyday internet usage.

    By utilizing a combination of bold text, underlined text, lists, and subheaders, we’ve made this article visually engaging and organized, enhancing its readability and ensuring that important information stands out.

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