“What happens when you type a URL in the browser and press enter?”
Medium @maneesha.wijesinghe1, April 25, 2017
By Maneesha Wijesinghe
“Although this seems like a very tedious prolonged process, we know that it takes less than seconds for a web page to render after we hit enter on our keyboard. All of these steps happen within milliseconds before we could even notice.”
If you are in any technical profession, I am sure someone at some point has asked you this question. Whether you are an engineer, developer, marketer, or even in sales, it is always good to have a basic understanding of what is going on behind our browsers and how information is transferred to our computers via the internet.
Let’s imagine that you want to access maps.google.com to check the exact time it would take for you to get to your dinner reservation from work.
1. You type maps.google.com into the address bar of your browser.
2. The browser checks the cache for a DNS record to find the corresponding IP address of maps.google.com.
DNS(Domain Name System) is a database that maintains the name of the website (URL) and the particular IP address it links to. Every single URL on the internet has a unique IP address assigned to it. The IP address belongs to the computer which hosts the server of the website we are requesting to access. For example, www.google.com has an IP address of 126.96.36.199. So if you’d like, you can reach www.google.com by typing http://188.8.131.52 on your browser. DNS is a list of URLs, and their IP addresses, like how a phone book is a list of names and their corresponding phone numbers.
The primary purpose of DNS is human-friendly navigation. You can easily access a website by typing the correct IP address for it on your browser, but imagine having to remember different sets of numbers for all the sites we regularly access? Therefore, it is easier to remember the name of the website using a URL and let DNS do the work for us by mapping it to the correct IP.
To find the DNS record, the browser checks four caches.
About the Author:
Maneesha Wijesinghe posts on Medium.