The Importance of DNS Resolution
Domain Name System (DNS) servers are responsible for the complex interconnections within the Internet. The DNS servers are responsible for the interface between machines and humans because they convert human-designated domain names into into their corresponding machine IP addresses (ex. one of Google.com IP address’s is https://184.108.40.206/). Most people don’t connect to servers via these IP addresses, therefore the DNS process is extremely valuable.
There are 4.7 billion possible addresses available in IPv4. Because the number of IP addresses is fast running out, IPv6 was introduced. The IPv6 protocol dramatically multiplies the number of IP addresses available in the ecosystem. A large number of IP addresses translate into an even larger number of interconnections and DNS processes between clients and servers. Distributed DNS name servers, thus, become necessary to manage these processes. They are the first connections made by your web server, once a user types in your website URL.
Why is DNS Resolution Time Important for your Website?
DNS resolution time affects the time it takes for host server to receive and process a request for a webpage, also known as latency. If the DNS server information is available in your browser cache, or if the DNS name server is available at a location close to you, then the process is relatively simple.
However, things get complicated when the DNS name server is located halfway around the world, or if the DNS name server cache has expired. Specifically, Time-to-Live (TTL) refers to the period of time in which a DNS name is cached before it expires on your computer. TTL can vary from days to weeks to years.
Moreover, increases in latency can have major impacts on the user experience of a website. When DNS servers are geographically located far from the host server, the requesting computer has to perform multiple network hops to reach the DNS server. Each hop translates into a network iteration to reach the address, thereby increasing access times for each DNS name server. Further, factors such as queuing delays can complicate access to the Domain Name System servers.
Another factor that can impact DNS resolution time is the quality of your web hosting. For example, if you’re hosting a WordPress site and your host’s “wait” time is substantial (greater than a second or so), this could really be slowing down your website. This is a good reason why find the best web hosting for WordPress and other platforms is absolutely critical to the speed of a website, and something that you should really spend time optimizing (you can find out more here if you’re interested).
Improving DNS Resolution Time by Monitoring
You can improve DNS resolution time by reducing the number of hops, or network iterations, it takes to reach your DNS name server. This approach requires significant investments in infrastructure and time. The other, simpler approach can be implemented through DNS monitoring.
Monitoring your DNS name server provides accurate availability and performance information of your DNS provider. Testing your DNS via a local browser will miss DNS issues because your local browser has cached the DNS.
As an example, consider the DNS Traceroute Test available from Dotcom-Monitor. This free tool helps you run a URL through the DNS process from multiple worldwide monitoring locations. The solution uses a non-cache method to propagate DNS queries all the way through to root name servers with each monitoring instance. Thus, you can measure DNS response times for first-time users (with non-cached results), to get an accurate picture of your DNS resolution time.