Tag Archives: domain name system

How the domain name system works: the big domain glossary part 2

Why does a website appear after entering the domain? Where are domain and website information saved and how are they connected? In this article, our big domain glossary tells you everything you need to know about the domain name system (DNS), root server and IP address.

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Category: Net Culture | Net World
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Wrap-up of this week’s top articles from the 1&1 Blog

Most Popular Blog Posts

To catch you up on this week’s most popular 1&1 blog posts, we talked about slideshow-based video for businesses, identified what WordPress users will see in 2015, explained how the Domain Name System works, shared secrets for online sales and announced our involvement in Joomla! Day Boston.

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Category: Blog Wrap-Ups
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What is ICANN?

The same way one would connect with someone else on the phone, Internet users need a distinctive name to contact each other online. An Internet address needs to be distinctive so computers can locate one another. The job of ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is to coordinate these unique identifiers across the world.

ICANN was tasked with the technical organization of the Internet as a non-profit organization by the US Department of Commerce in 1998. Located in California, ICANN is responsible for the further development of the Domain Name System (DNS) and administration of IP addresses. Additionally, it supervises the operation of root name servers. Prior to ICANN, these tasks were conducted by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority).

Domain Name System

In contrast to phone numbers, we know most Internet addresses only as a name and not as a number. The numbers that serve as the basis for communication between computers – referred to as Internet Protocol (IP) addresses – are hard to remember. The DNS matches letters to an exact numerical series, and translates the requested domain into the matching IP address. The requests happen in the background for most users, and within very short timeframes. This way, Web users only need to remember the domain name, and not a longer number.

A Web address like www.1and1.com, for example, can be split into three labels. The top-level domain (TLD) – in this case .com – is for commercial websites and considered a generic TLD. There are also more than 240 country-coded TLDs (ccTLDs), such as .ca for Canada or .de for Germany. ICANN delegates registration to independent, country-specific organizations (registries). The registries or Network Information Center (NIC) in charge manage ccTLDS and are responsible for their operation and technical stability. ICANN is responsible for the approval of new TLDs, the introduction of which has been discussed, prepared, and coordinated for the past ten years.

IP addresses

IANA is one of the Internet’s oldest institutions, and responsible for the assignment of IP addresses since the founding of ICANN. As a department of ICANN, IANA assigns local IP registrations to Regional Internet Registries (RIR). Currently, there are five active regional registries worldwide which are responsible for assigning IP addresses in a certain part of the world.

Root Server

Without root name servers (root servers), the current Domain Name System would not work. Every computer connected to the Internet is assigned a name server, which translates a domain into an IP address. If a name server has not saved further information about a requested TLD, it forwards the request to an overriding root server where the name servers are determined. The root server’s zone (root zone) contains names and IP addresses of all name servers of the TLDs and is the basis of the DNS. The 13 root servers are operated by different institutions, however ICANN is responsible for their coordination.

ICANN is often referred to as “the government” of the Internet. However, it lacks responsibilities and financial means. Internet-related tasks such as content control, data protection and privacy are not part of ICANN’s responsibilities. Through supervision and coordination, ICANN enables computers in complex networks to find each other. Universal responsibility makes it possible to receive the same predictable results anywhere in the word. Without ICANN, the Internet could look and work completely different depending on a user’s location.

ICANN supervises the technical and administrative heart of the Internet and plays a key role in its design. It is also responsible for the biggest innovation regarding Internet addresses – the release of about 1,400 new top-level domains. If you’re interested in a new TLD, you can pre-reserve your ideal domain now at http://www.1and1.com/new-top-level-domains.

Photo Credit: ©istockphoto.com/crstrbrt

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Category: Net Culture
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How the Domain Name System Works

If you’ve ever set up a website, you should be at least slightly familiar with the Domain Name System (DNS). We’ve discussed elements about domain names, such as www.1and1.com, in the past. DNS is the system that converts a domain name into an IP address, which allows computers to identify other computers and servers on the internet. An IP address is a numerical label assigned to any device attached to the network. So in other words, the DNS allows you to use the easy-to-remember domain name of a website instead of its actual address on the internet, and it figures out the rest. This process is referred to as DNS name resolution.

Domain Name Elements

To explain the specific elements of a domain name, we will use www.1and1.com as an example. As you may know, the last portion of this name – .com – represents the generic top-level domain (gTLD). Currently, some of the most common gTLDs are .com, .net, .org, etc. But as we have announced earlier this month, there will be many, many more gTLDs available later this year.

Underneath the top-level portion of the domain name, the next level down in our example is “1and1”. This refers to the specific organization of 1and1 below the .com gTLD. Sometimes, websites can have a hierarchy of sub-domains even below that, such as the Online Success Center’s sub-domain name of blog-network.1and1.com/blog-us. In that example, “success” is a sub-domain of “1and1”. The last element of a domain name (the one that is listed first, such as “www”) is the host name. This host name is a label assigned to any device connected to the network for identification.

Registering the Domain

As you can tell, the domain name process can be very complicated. Luckily, when it comes to registering a domain name there are registrars that have authority to register your domain name of choice for you. By using an official registrar, such as 1&1 Internet, the first thing you should do is check if your desired domain name is available. The registrar should display which gTLDs the domain name is available under, and provide you the option to register the name under one or more of them (.com, .org, .co, etc.).

Once you have registered your domain name, you should direct the registrar to point that name to the IP address where your website is hosted. To make this easier, you can also host your domain within the registrar’s own DNS configuration.


This is of course just a simplified overview of how the domain name system works, but hopefully it helps in your understanding of what your domain name actually means, and what happens “behind the scenes” when you visit a website. For more information, check out 1&1’s Help Center on this same topic.

Photo Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/henrik5000

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Category: Net Culture
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