DNS Zones Explained

When someone types in the domain to your website on their browser, several different processes take place, even though they normally transpire in less than 5 seconds. There is much more to resolving a domain name than simply typing it in and having a page magically appear on your browser.

In the background, this request is being routed to a nameserver, which in turn routes the request to the DNS zone that resides on your server. This DNS zone is responsible for your page appearing in a browser. But how does it work?

This can be a complicated process, but we’ll just touch on the most important things that you need to know about your DNS zone. Unless you are operating your own dedicated server, you should not have to worry about configuring your DNS zone, but it is helpful to understand how they work.

There are several different types of information that are stored within a DNS zone. First, the address field contains the address mapping information for your IP address. This means that when a request for your domain is made, the DNS zone contains the information that is required for your browser to find your IP address. This IP address, even if it is shared with other users, is assigned to your domain name when you set up your nameserver.

In the beginning stages of the Internet, IP addresses were used before URLs. However, this proved to be very complicated as more sites joined the rush to get on the Internet. People were finding it impossible to remember the string of numbers that are contained in an IP address.

So, it was decided that each IP address would be mapped to a specific domain name or URL. It functions in much the same way as typing in a site’s IP address in your browser, but it is much easier to remember a URL than it is to remember an IP address. This mapping field simply converts the domain name into the correct IP address.

In addition to the address field in your DNS zone, the correct nameserver for your domain will be included. This nameserver must match the one that you had assigned to your domain for the process to work correctly. Your hosting company will provide you with this information but you will need to make sure that you have entered in the correct nameserver on your own, unless your hosting company is also the registrar of your domain.

These two fields are the most important yet basic fields in a DNS zone and the easiest to understand. There are several other fields that are included, but as we mentioned above, you should not have to configure these on your own. By ensuring that you understand how these two basic fields in a DNS zone work, you will be able to have your domain propagate correctly and you may be able to troubleshoot any problems if your domain is not resolving as it should.

Related Posts:
Managing DNS and MX Zones
Digital Zones Hosting
WHI’s Podcast for 07/17/2006
Hosting Industry Daily Briefing for 03/15/2006
Remote Access Keys and Clusters Explained

Posted on 12/15/05 8:17 PM

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