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How DNS works

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All devices on the Internet, from your smart phone or laptop to the servers that serve content for websites, find and communicate with one another by using numbers. These numbers are known as IP addresses. When you open a web browser and go to a website, you don't have to remember and enter a long number. Instead, you can enter a domain name like and still end up in the right place. This is thanks to DNS (Domain Name Service).


Each and every domain registration species where clients will look to retrieve the DNS records for the domain, these are the name servers. These name servers store the DNS records, this is known as the DNS zone.


If changing the name servers with the domain registrar, it is important that you set up the DNS zone on the new name servers first, see the guide below for creating a zone before changing the name servers to Nimbus’


How DNS routes traffic to websites.



  1. A user opens a web browser, enters in the address bar, and presses Enter.
  2. The request for is routed to a DNS resolver
  3. The DNS resolver forwards the request for to the name server for
  4. The name server looks in the zone for the record, gets the associated record such as the IP address for a web server,, and returns the IP address to the DNS resolver.
  5. The DNS resolver now has the IP address that the user needs. The resolver returns that value to the web browser.
  6. The web browser sends a request for to the IP address that it got from the DNS resolver. This is where your content is, for example, a web server running on the Nimbus hosting platform.
  7. The web server or other resource at returns the web page for to the web browser, and the web browser displays the page.


What is DNS propagation?


Within the DNS zone, the name server has a TTL (Time To Live) for each record, the DNS resolvers will store each record that it looks up for that period of time before checking the name server again. That means that the resolver will not pick up a DNS record change until that time has elapsed, so when you make a change to a DNS record it will take time for all resolvers and subsequent clients to see that new record. That is DNS propagation. The maximum DNS propagation time will be the value set as the TTL, this value is in seconds. Nimbus’ TTL is 3600 which is 1 hour, we have seen this as high as 24 hours on other providers’ name servers.


Our other guides on DNS and managing your DNS records can be found on the link below.