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Domains and DNS

A domain name on its own doesn't really do much. It's like choosing a name for a baby when you don't have one. A quick look at the list for most popular baby names for 2010 shows the most popular name for a girl was Sophia and the most popular name for a boy was Aiden. Those names on their own don't really mean much. If someone asks, "Did you see Sophia?" without the other person knowing which "Sophia" was being referred to, it would just lead to confusion, usually followed by the question, "Sophia who?".

Likewise, a domain name that isn't assigned to anything has no meaning. Type in a domain name that hasn't been assigned to anything in a browser, and there will be an error message. A browser equivalent of "Sophia who?". For a domain to mean something it has to have a website and/or email associated with it.

Say a website is set up with a hosting provider, such as ISOCNET, how does the world then know that the domain in question is set up on an ISOCNET server? When looking for an address or phone number of a particular person or business, people can look in a phone book (or an online equivalent). The Internet also has its own "phone book" which is called Domain Name System (DNS).

DNS consists of various records that point everything associated with a domain name to where it should go. For example, the isoc.net domain points to an IP address of 67.96.0.250. This IP address can be thought of as the Internet equivalent of someone's street address of where they live. When a browser is given the domain of isoc.net, it looks in the DNS (phone book) and sees that the address of isoc.net is 67.96.0.250 and goes to that location to bring up the website.

When someone writes a letter, they physically write their letter, address the envelope and then send it off in the mail. The post office looks up where the letter is addressed to and delivers that letter. Similarly when sending someone an email, one would type up their message, address it with the persons email address, that contains their domain name, and hits SEND. The email program (Outlook or whatever other program is being used) looks at the domain, uses DNS to determine where mail for that domain is supposed to go, and then delivers it.

So a domain name needs DNS to point it where to go in order for the domain to be of any use.

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