What is DNS and How to Set One Up: Public and Private DNS Explained
As an internet user, you’ve likely interacted with the Domain Name System (DNS) without even realizing it. DNS is a system that translates domain names (like example.com) into IP addresses that computers can understand. In this article, we’ll discuss what DNS is, how it works, and how to set up your own DNS server. We’ll also explain the differences between public and private DNS, and the advantages and disadvantages of using each.
What is DNS?
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It’s essentially a phone book for the internet that translates domain names (like google.com) into IP addresses (like 22.214.171.124). Every time you enter a URL into your web browser, your computer sends a DNS query to a DNS server, which looks up the IP address associated with that domain name and sends it back to your computer. This process happens almost instantly and enables your computer to connect to the website you want to visit.
image credit: businessinsider.com
There are two types of DNS queries: recursive and iterative. A recursive query is when your computer sends a query to a DNS server, which in turn sends a query to another DNS server, and so on, until the IP address is found. An iterative query is when your computer sends a query to a DNS server, which either returns the IP address or refers your computer to another DNS server that might have the answer.
Setting Up a DNS
Setting up your own DNS server can be a complex task, but it can also be rewarding if you have a good understanding of networking and DNS. To set up a DNS server, you’ll need a computer with a stable internet connection, a static IP address, and DNS software. Popular DNS software includes BIND and PowerDNS.
There are two types of DNS servers: authoritative and recursive. An authoritative DNS server is responsible for providing answers to DNS queries for a particular domain name. A recursive DNS server, on the other hand, is responsible for looking up IP addresses for domain names it doesn’t know and caching the results for future use.
Public vs. Private DNS
Public DNS is provided by third-party DNS providers like Google, Cloudflare, and OpenDNS. Public DNS servers are usually faster than private DNS servers because they have large amounts of infrastructure and resources dedicated to them. Public DNS servers are also more secure than private DNS servers because they can detect and filter out malicious traffic.
Private DNS, on the other hand, is set up by individuals or organizations for their own use. Private DNS servers can provide greater control and customization options than public DNS servers. Private DNS servers are also more private than public DNS servers because they don’t log as much data and are less likely to share data with third parties.
How to Set Up a Private DNS
Setting up a private DNS server can be a great option for individuals or organizations that want more control over their DNS settings. To set up a private DNS server, you’ll need to choose DNS software, configure your network settings, and make sure your DNS server is secure. Some popular DNS software options include BIND, PowerDNS, and Unbound.
Step 1: Choose DNS Software
Choosing the right DNS software is an important first step in setting up a private DNS server. Popular DNS software options include BIND, PowerDNS, and Unbound. You’ll need to choose the one that’s best suited for your needs and experience level.
Step 2: Configure Network Settings
Once you’ve chosen your DNS software, you’ll need to configure your network settings to point to your new DNS server. This involves updating your router or other network devices to use your new DNS server’s IP address.
Step 3: Make Sure Your DNS Server is Secure
Securing your DNS server is critical to preventing unauthorized access and protecting your data. Some steps you can take to secure your DNS server include using strong passwords, enabling firewalls, and regularly updating your DNS software.
DNS is a critical part of the internet infrastructure that enables computers to connect to websites using domain names. Whether you’re setting up a private DNS server or using a public DNS provider, it’s important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can set up your own DNS server and take greater control over your online presence.