The .au domain name system (DNS) helps people quickly and accurately navigate to websites and send emails with domain names ending in .au. It underpins auDA’s ability to connect millions of Internet users to millions of local websites and email addresses, and helps your audience find you online.
IP addresses and the DNS
An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique series of numbers identifying where a website or email address is hosted online. IP addresses are a critical part of the global Internet infrastructure, however, they are long and difficult to remember (e.g. 220.127.116.11 or 2803:f800:50::6ca2:c0a5). Domain names have been adopted to stand in their place.
The DNS acts as an address book for the Internet. When you type a domain name into an Internet search bar or send an email, you commence a DNS query. DNS servers then translate the domain name into an IP address for your web browser, like a postal worker determining the delivery address for a parcel.
The DNS hierarchy
Translating a domain name into an IP address takes several steps. Just as a postal worker considers the country, state, street and then street number to deliver a parcel, the DNS servers narrow down the location by looking at the components that make up the domain name.
In narrowing down the domain name location, DNS servers operate in a hierarchy, passing information through a global network of servers until the IP address for the website or email address you’re looking for is located.
Your DNS query’s journey
A query’s first stop is a DNS resolver, which is typically run by telecommunications carriers. The resolver reads the domain name from right to left. In the example of getyour.com.au, the resolver first asks the DNS root nameserver for the IP address (or location) of the server that holds the records for the .au domain.
Next, the DNS resolver asks the .au top level nameserver, for the IP address of the com.au second level nameservers. In turn, the com.au second level nameserver locates the servers (known as authoritative nameservers) that contain the IP address for the getyour.com.au domain name. The DNS resolver then sends this information back to your web browser, Internet traffic flows and the getyour.com.au website loads.
While this seems like a lengthy and complex process, DNS queries are resolved rapidly, with .au DNS queries (the Round Trip Time) processed within 250 milliseconds 99.99 percent of the time.
How the DNS is operated
DNS servers work together across the globe and have built in redundancy to ensure reliability and security of the domain name system.
They are operated by a range of organisations. The root zone is managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) and is made up of 13 root servers run by 12 organisations including universities, research facilities and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The .au nameservers are operated by auDA and the .au registry operator Afilias, while other nameservers are operated by domain name registrars, web hosting companies and telecommunications carriers.
With more than three billion queries per day processed by the .au nameservers, auDA and our peers in the DNS industry are dedicated to delivering a reliable, trusted .au domain name system that Internet users can depend on.