What is DNS?

At its most basic level, the Domain Name System, or DNS, is what allows you to use domain names to reach the websites you want instead of having to memorize IP addresses (numerical sequences). IP addresses are akin to a telephone number, and DNS the white pages of a phone book. DNS translates domain names, which people understand, into IP addresses, which networks understand. That way, when you type in a domain name in your web browser, like  https://porkbun.com, you end up at our website.

DNS operates on many servers all over the Internet. A web browser asks the DNS server closest to it for the IP address of a domain its user is trying to visit. That DNS server asks a series of other DNS servers until it finds the "authoritative nameserver" for the domain in question, which is a DNS server upon which the domain owner has placed resource records that match their domain name to an IP address. Resource records for your domain (sometimes called a zone) are said to be stored in a "zone file" on the authoritative nameservers; although in Porkbun's case, we don't make you edit a raw zone file, you instead use our easy-to-use DNS Manager to simplify the process.

Here are some of the more common resource record types:

  • A and AAAA Records
    • These point hostnames to IP addresses, and are commonly used to route browser requests. An A record signifies an IPv4 address and AAAA is IPv6.
  • MX Records
    • These tell email servers where to send mail addressed to a particular domain.
  • TXT Records
    • These can be used to hold arbitrary information. SPF records are a kind of TXT record.
  • CNAME Records
    • These can be used to create a DNS alias of another hostname but have unusual properties and should be used sparingly
  • NS Records
    • These assign authoritative name servers to the hostname. Porkbun automatically takes care of these for you.

There are several others but these are the most common. You can query DNS yourself with command line tools such as dig, nslookup, or via our  online DNS lookup tool

ICANN is the organization charged with overseeing the security and stability of DNS.