Domain Naming System (DNS)

What is DNS?

The Domain Naming System (DNS) is a global naming system used to keep track of computers connected to the Internet. Each type of organization (educational, governmental, commercial, etc) is assigned a domain with the appropriate suffix. The organization at the top of the system is ICANN.

The domain used the University of Washington is washington.edu.

Each computer connected to the Internet is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address. DNS translates computer names such as www.washington.edu into IP numerical addresses such as 140.142.3.7. DNS names are easier for people to read and remember than IP addresses.

For workstations and printers, however, a hostname in DNS is often unnecessary because once the system is configured humans no longer need to input either an IP or DNS name.

If you know what the IP address of your computer is, you can use the "dig" or "nslookup" command from a shell prompt on your desktop or Dante or Homer to see if you already have a DNS name.

To learn more about requesting a domain name or an IP address please go to our IP request page. If you are obtaining an IP address automatically with DHCP server, the DHCP server will assign a DNS name. Computers using DHCP cannot be assigned a custom DNS name.

DNS Services

UW-IT provides several services concerned with DNS.

  • Caching resolvers are provided to the University of Washington campus. The IP addresses of the caching servers are 128.95.112.1 and 128.95.120.1. These are the servers that campus computers should use to lookup IP addresses and names.
  • Authoritative name service is provided by UW-IT for subdomains of washington.edu and for other domains that departments may wish to use (such as kuow.org). For more information please go to our subdomain request page.
  • URL Forwarding may be set up as part of a departmental web-page. Information on URL forwarding service.
  • Project-172 is a UW Information Technology project to provide private IP addresses for the UW. There is a DNS component of this project that is described as part of the P172 webpage.

Last modified: July 5, 2013