How does a domain work?

How does a domain work?

Every computer on the public Internet has a unique numeric address—similar to the uniqueness of a telephone number—which is a string of numbers that is difficult for most people to remember. This string is called the “IP address.” IP stands for “Internet Protocol.”

To make it easier to find a given location on the Internet, the Domain Name System, or DNS, was invented. The DNS translates IP addresses into unique alphanumeric addresses called domain names that are easier to remember. If, for example, you would like to visit the ICANN website, would you rather remember the IP address, or type “”?

By associating a familiar string of letters—the domain name—with an IP address, the DNS makes it much easier for Internet users to remember websites and email addresses. In the example above, the “” part of the address is called the domain name. The “www.” part identifies to your browser that you are looking for the World Wide Web interface for that domain name.

Domain names can also be used to send email. Whether you are sending business or personal communications, you want to be certain that your message is directed to the intended addressee. To borrow an analogy from the phone system, when you dial a number, it rings at a particular location because there is a central numbering plan that ensures that each telephone number is unique.

The DNS works in a similar way. Both the domain name and the IP address behind it are unique. The DNS enables your email to reach the intended recipient (, for example) and not someone else with a similar domain name. It also enables you to type “,” without having to enter a lengthy IP address, and get to the right website. Without this uniqueness, both the DNS and the telephone systems would be less predictable and reliable.

A domain name can remain unchanged even if a website is moved to a different host computer or server because the DNS can be told to point an existing domain name to a new IP address. This is just like a household or a business moving its location—the family or business name stays the same, even if the street address changes.

Post by dotZADNA

.ZADNA is statutory regulator and manager of .ZA

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