Today kicks off a new feature on the blog called Tech Tuesdays (thanks to suggestions at the Bloganista Mini-Con this past weekend). With the series, I am hoping to help demystify some common technology terms and issues I’ve had bloggers ask me about. If you have a question you would like me to tackle in the series you can email me at sherri [at] yougotrossed dot com. While I do not know everything, I have a good handle on many subjects and will be glad to offer what I do know. I will try to explain it in simple terms, so please keep that in mind when reading.
DNS stands for domain name servers which are basically the “pointers” that direct people to your blog on the internet. There are DNS servers all over the world and they all work to direct internet requests to the proper web sites. All web sites on the internet are actually associated (attached) to an Internet Protocol (IP) address and DNS associates a web name (your domain name, for example) with its corresponding IP address. A request comes into a DNS server for a name and the server quickly runs through its DNS records (address book) and finds the requested name and then the corresponding IP address. It then points the incoming request to the IP address and boom, your site comes up!
For those who may not be familiar with technology terms, a server is (or can be) basically just a powerful computer. When I refer to “your domain name” I mean the internet address used to get to your blog. As as example, my domain name is http://yougotrossed.com. All you see and all you know, as a reader, is http://yougotrossed.com, but servers store web sites by IP address so when you type in my domain, a request shoots through the internet to the domain name servers (DNS) for my site and finds that domain in the DNS records, then finds the corresponding IP address, and then goes to get the web site associated with that IP address. Once that happens, YOU get my blog in your web browser.
One of the biggest problems with DNS arises if you move your blog or web site to another place (host). Many times the DNS will need to change on the back-end to point people to your new address. That can be confusing if people are not familiar with how DNS works, and – by default – it can take up to 48 hours to propagate once the change has been made on the DNS server. That propagation sometimes means that your site may be “down” for a while if you make a change to your host or the location of your blog or site.
DNS can be a tricky beast for newcomers and it took me years to master it, but I love troubleshooting it now. Typically, if you own your own domain (like I do – yougotrossed.com), then your DNS servers are with your registrar or hosting company (where you bought your domain or where you host your blog). But that doesn’t have to be the case – you can have DNS in a different place than your blog, but that’s a complicated story for another day.
I hope this helps you understand how people get to your blog on the internet a bit better and what issues can happen if you move it. Just remember, even if problems come up, everything is fixable when it comes to DNS. If you would like more information or help with DNS – or any other technology aspect of your blog – I’m happy to meet with you one on one if you reach out to me at sherri [at] yougotrossed dot com.