What is a DNS Server

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One of the most important concepts in web hosting is the Domain Name System (also known as DNS). Here, we’ll explain what the DNS is, how it works, and how to fix any errors with your website’s domain server. 

What Does DNS Do?

Before understanding the system as a whole and its servers, let’s break down what domain names are in the first place. Domain names are the names contained in website URLs. If you go into your internet browser and enter a website that you want to visit, that is the domain.

The Domain Name System takes the name you’ve entered and connects it with IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. This is so that your browser can display the information that you want to see.

DNS servers translate computer code into a language we can use to visit websites. These servers respond quickly to our DNS queries and complete the special translation process. If DNS servers didn’t exist, we’d all have to memorize IP addresses to access the internet resources we want to access.

Types of DNS Servers

There are four types of servers needed for a DNS query to be completed and an IP address obtained. The four types are: 

  • Recursive Resolvers
  • Root Nameservers
  • TLD nameservers
  • Authoritative Nameservers

They work together to retrieve the address. Think of each type as part of a library system. The following is a deeper look at each type:

Recursive Resolvers

The recursive resolver is the first server that a DNS query goes through. The client device requests the IP address. The resolver may respond with cached data, or it may pass the inquiry along to one of the other servers. The information also passes through the resolver on its way back to the client device.

?This server is like the librarian that you talk to when you need a certain book.

Root Nameserver

After a query goes through the recursive resolver, it makes its way to a root nameserver. It has the important role of sorting queries based on their domain extension (such as .com, .org, .gov, and so on).

Think of this server as an index at the library. It lists the locations of many shelves, but the librarian (aka the resolver) must go find those shelves.

TLD Nameserver

The next step after the root nameserver is the TLD nameserver. Once a query has gone through a root nameserver and back to a resolver, it is directed to a TLD nameserver that corresponds to that query’s particular extension.

Think of this server as a specific shelf of books that may contain the correct IP address. The query passes through the TLD nameserver and then goes back to the resolver and the authoritative nameserver.

Authoritative Nameserver

Once a query has reached the authoritative nameserver, it has almost completed its journey. This stage can play out in a few different ways depending on the location of the IP address. The IP address is usually found, sent to the resolver, and finally, back with the client.

Think of this server as the specific book you need that contains the IP address for the requested domain name. 

How to Fix “DNS Server Not Responding”

If you are online and trying to enter a domain name but receive the message “DNS server not responding”, there are a few things you can do to resolve the issue. It may occur because one of the servers required for the process is out. The following are some potential solutions:

  • Deactivating your firewall: Using your control panel, you can attempt to deactivate your firewall to see if your access is restored.
  • Restarting your router: This is a simple solution that people will implement if they experience internet connectivity issues.
  • Changing web browsers: Sometimes the browser you are using may be the source of the issue. Changing to a different browser is an easy first solution to try.
  • Selecting an alternative DNS server: If all of the earlier ideas fail, you should select an alternative DNS server that isn’t your default (which is the one given by your internet service provider).

How Do I Find My DNS Server?

If you need to select an alternative server, you will need to find it on your own. Many avenues lead to the DNS server. How you get there depends on what you know how to do and your personal preferences. You can access it in the following ways:

  • Through your router
  • Via Windows
  • Using Powershell
  • Using the command prompt


It’s important to understand how the system works as a whole if you have issues connecting to a DNS server. If your problems continue, get in touch with an IT professional for additional advice.

P.S. A side note: Servers such as of Hostinger, GreenGeeks, HostPapa, etc. that we frequently promote via our recommended lists like top web hosts in Australia, top web hosts in Canada, best web hosting in Singapore, best hosts in Malaysia, and best hosting in the UK are not DNS servers — those are regular servers where your website’s data is stored and sent from.