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Putting Names on IP Addresses

When it comes to IP addressing, networking and just about everything else related to computing, it's important to remember that everything that works behind the scenes is created for computers first, people second.

For example, an IP address, which points to a designated computer or even a website, is designed to help computers—not computer users— network with each other.

We would surely have a hard time remembering a friend's "computer address" of Imagine if we had to remember hundreds of them. (It would be just like having to remember 1,000 people in our phone lists by their phone numbers, not their names.)

For example, here are three IP addresses connected to websites for well-know organizations. Do you recognize any of them?


Well, here's where those IP addresses would take you:

  • Disney.com
  • Amazon.com
  • Guggenheim.org

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) has built into it a parallel structure of user-based, ordinary, relevant and logical names, called the Domain Name System or DNS (it's also referred to as the Domain Name Service). In short, when a request for information or a file is sent out on the Internet, the destination address and "sender" address are IP addresses.

The process of tagging or mapping a domain name, such as "Amazon.com" or "WhatIsMyIPAddress.com," to the IP address is called name resolution.

On the Internet, there are special computers called name servers whose job it is to help translate domain names to and from IP addresses. The computer addresses that we recognize and associate with email—such as "gmail.com"—or with websites—such as "WhatIsMyIPAddress.com"—are expressed as DNS names.

Automatic: numbers to names.

The vast Domain Name System delivers domain mapping for all DNS-registered computers on a network. That's why we—along with all of the ordinary Internet users in the world—don't have to type in IP addresses to send email or visit a website. And isn't that a good thing?