Domain Name System

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. Most prominently, it translates domain names, which can be easily memorized by humans, to the numerical IP addresses needed for the purpose of computer services and devices worldwide. The Domain Name System is an essential component of the functionality of most Internet services because it is the Internet’s primary directory service. The Domain Name System distributes the responsibility of assigning domain names and mapping those names to IP addresses by designating authoritative name servers for each domain. Authoritative name servers are assigned to be responsible for their supported domains, and may delegate authority over sub-domains to other name servers. This mechanism provides distributed and fault tolerant service and was designed to avoid the need for a single central database. The Domain Name System also specifies the technical functionality of the database service which is at its core. It defines the DNS protocol, a detailed specification of the data structures and data communication exchanges used in DNS, as part of the Internet Protocol Suite. Historically, other directory services preceding DNS were not scalable to large or global directories as they were originally based on text files, prominently the HOSTS.TXT resolver. DNS has been in wide use since the 1980s. The Internet maintains two principal namespaces, the domain name hierarchy and the Internet Protocol (IP) address spaces. The Domain Name System maintains the domain name hierarchy and provides translation services between it and the address spaces. Internet name servers and a communication protocol implement the Domain Name System. A DNS name server is a server that stores the DNS records for a domain name; a DNS name server responds with answers to queries against its database. The most common types of records stored in the DNS database are those dealing with a DNS zone’s authority authority (SOA), IP addresses (A and AAAA), SMTP mail exchangers (MX), name servers (NS), pointers for reverse DNS lookups (PTR), and domain name aliases (CNAME). Although not intended to be a general purpose database, DNS can store records for other types of data for either automatic machine lookups for things like DNSSEC records, or for human queries like responsible person (RP) records. For a complete list of DNS record types, see the List of DNS record types. As a general purpose database, DNS has also seen use in combating unsolicited email (spam) by using a real-time blackhole list stored in a DNS database. Whether for Internet naming or for general purpose uses, the DNS database is traditionally stored in a structured zone file.

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