What Happens When You Access A Website?

When you type a web address into your browser, your computer contacts a DNS server and requests the IP address for the website.

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Introduction

When you access a website, your computer sends a request to the server where the website is hosted. The server then sends back the pages of the website that you want to view. This process happens very quickly, and you usually don’t even realize it’s happening.

The Domain Name System

When you type a domain name into your web browser, your computer contacts a Domain Name System (DNS) server to request the IP address associated with that domain. The DNS server then looks up the IP address and responds to your computer with the correct information. Your computer then uses the IP address to connect to the website’s server and load the website.

The Domain Name System (DNS) and You

When you enter a URL into your web browser, your computer needs to find the server that houses the website you want to view. It does this using the Domain Name System (DNS). DNS is like a phone book for the internet, translating human-friendly domain names into numerical IP addresses that computers can understand. Here’s a brief overview of how it works:

1. You type a URL into your web browser (e.g., www.example.com).
2. Your computer sends a DNS query to a DNS resolver (e.g., your ISP’s DNS server).
3. The DNS resolver looks up the IP address for www.example.com and responds to your computer with the IP address (e.g., 192.168.1.1).
4. Your computer then sends a request to the web server at that IP address, asking for the page you want to view (e.g., index.html).
5. The web server sends the requested page back to your computer, and your web browser displays it on-screen!

How DNS Works

When you type a URL into your web browser, your computer contacts a DNS server to look up the IP address for the website you want to access. DNS is short for Domain Name System, and it’s a system that converts human-readable website names (like www.cloudflare.com) into numerical IP addresses (like 243.185.187.3).

Your computer always contacts the same DNS server whenever you want to load a website, unless you’ve specifically configured it to use a different server. For most people, their ISP automatically assigns them a DNS server that their computer will use.

Once your computer has the IP address for the website you want to access, it sends a request to that address and waits for a response from the server. The server then sends back the HTML code for the website, which your browser renders into the page that you see.

How DNS Resolves Domain Names

When you type a URL into your web browser, your computer needs to find the server that hosts the website you’re looking for. It does this by using the Domain Name System (DNS), which essentially acts as a phone book for the internet. DNS servers keep a record of all the domain names and their associated IP addresses, so when you request a particular website, the DNS server can look up the IP address and direct your computer to the right server.

This process happens very quickly – often in just a few milliseconds – and is transparent to users. However, if DNS wasn’t used, you would need to remember the IP address of every website you wanted to visit, which would be both difficult and time-consuming.

The Role of DNS Servers

When you type a URL into your browser, your computer needs to figure out what IP address that website is located at. It does this by querying a DNS (Domain Name System) server.

DNS servers are essentially the phone book of the internet. They maintain a directory of domain names and their associated IP addresses. When your computer needs to access a website, it looks up the IP address in the DNS server so it knows where to find it.

Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) operate their own DNS servers, which they provide to their customers. However, you can also use public DNS servers, such as Google Public DNS or Cloudflare DNS.

When you visit a website, your browser will first query the DNS server to resolve the domain name into an IP address. It will then establish a connection to the web server at that IP address and send an HTTP request for the page you want to load. The web server will then respond with the requested page, which your browser will render for you.

How DNS Propagates Changes

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a critical component of the Internet. It is responsible for mapping between human-readable domain names and numerical IP addresses. DNS changes are typically propagated quickly throughout the Internet, but there can be delays of a few minutes to a few hours before all DNS servers around the world have updated their records.

When you type a URL into your web browser, your computer first needs to look up the IP address for that domain name. It does this by sending a DNS query to a DNS server. The DNS server will either return the IP address from its cache or, if it doesn’t have the address in its cache, it will send a query to another DNS server until it finds the IP address. Once your computer has the IP address, it can connect to the web server and fetch the website you requested.

If a DNS change has been made, your computer’s local DNS server may not have updated its cache yet. This can cause your browser to show an error message or load an old version of the website. To check if your DNS server has updated its cache, you can use the “dig” or “nslookup” command-line tools. If your DNS server has not updated its cache yet, you will need to wait for it to do so before you will be able to see the new website.

What Happens When You Change Your DNS Settings

When you change your DNS settings, you are essentially telling your computer to go to a different phone book when it wants to look up the address for a website.

Just like with a physical phone book, where there might be more than one listing for a given name, there can be more than one DNS entry for a given website. For example, there might be different entries for the website’s main page and for the website’s sub-pages.

In most cases, your computer will automatically consult with multiple DNS servers in order to get the most accurate information. However, if you change your DNS settings, you can manually override this behavior.

There are a few different reasons why you might want to do this. For example, you might want to use a different DNS server in order to improve performance or access features that are not available on your current server.

You might also want to change your DNS settings in order to bypass censorship or other restrictions that have been placed on your internet connection.

The Importance of DNS

DNS servers are essentially the phone books of the internet. When you type in a URL like www.example.com, a DNS server translates that into the IP address of the server where example.com is stored (this is usually a much longer string of numbers).

Without DNS servers, you would need to type in the IP addresses of websites instead of their common names in order for your computer to connect to them. Fortunately, DNS servers handle this task automatically so you don’t have to.

There are actually two types of DNS servers: recursive and authoritative. Recursive DNS servers (also called caching or resolving DNS servers) are used by your ISP and they store temporary records of all the websites you visit along with their corresponding IP addresses. This speeds up the process of loading websites because your computer can fetch the IP address from the recursive DNS server instead of having to query each individual website’s DNS server every time you want to load a page.

Authoritative DNS servers are operated by domain registrars and web hosting companies. They store the official record of all domain names and their associated IP addresses. When a recursive DNS server needs to resolve a domain name, it will query one or more authoritative DNS servers until it finds the correct IP address.

Most web browsers also maintain their own internal caches of DNS records which further speeds up the process of loading websites because repeat visits to popular sites will often result in cached records being used instead of having to query remote DNS servers each time.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when you access a website, your computer sends a request to the server hosting the website. The server then responds by sending the requested data back to your computer. This process happens very quickly, and allows you to view the website on your screen.

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