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Lesson 10 Domain Name Service Structure
ObjectiveDescribe Internet Domain Names

Domain Name Service Structure

The Domain Name Service (DNS) is a critical component of the internet infrastructure that allows users to access websites, send and receive email, and perform other internet-related activities. The purpose of the DNS structure is to provide a hierarchical naming system that translates human-readable domain names into IP addresses, which are used to route data across the internet. At a high level, the DNS structure consists of a series of interconnected servers that work together to provide this translation service. The servers are organized into a hierarchical structure, with each level of the hierarchy responsible for a different aspect of the domain name resolution process. At the top of the hierarchy are the root servers, which are responsible for providing information about the top-level domains (such as .com, .org, and .net). Below the root servers are the top-level domain (TLD) servers, which are responsible for managing domain names within their respective TLDs (such as
Below the TLD servers are the authoritative name servers, which are responsible for managing the domain names associated with specific websites or email servers. These servers store information about the IP addresses associated with each domain name and respond to DNS queries from other servers or clients. Finally, at the bottom of the hierarchy are the local DNS resolvers, which are typically operated by internet service providers (ISPs) or other organizations. These servers receive DNS queries from clients, such as web browsers or email clients, and use the DNS hierarchy to locate the appropriate authoritative name server and retrieve the IP address associated with the requested domain name. Overall, the purpose of the DNS structure is to provide a hierarchical naming system that enables efficient and reliable translation of human-readable domain names into IP addresses, allowing users to access internet resources and services.

Hierarchical Tree Structure

Domain names follow a strict naming convention with a three-level hierarchy:
  1. root level,
  2. top level, and
  3. second level.
Each part of the name is separated with a period, the "dot" you hear when someone says a Web address out loud. The figure below illustrates the domain name hierarchy.

Domain Name Hierarchy consisting of 1) Root Level, 2) Top Level, 3) Second Level
Domain Name Hierarchy consisting of 1) Root Level, 2) Top Level, 3) Second Level

Root-level domains

The root-level domain is the starting point in the hierarchy.

Top-level domains

There are two types of top-level domains: original and country. The table below lists the original domain names and the types of organizations to which they are assigned.

Zone Definition For Use By
.govGovernmentU.S. federal government agencies
.intInternationalOrganizations established by international treaties
.milMilitaryU.S. military
.netNetworkNetwork Providers, administrator computers, network node computers
.orgOrganizationNon-profit and miscellaneous organizations

Country-level domains are called country code top-level domains (ccTLDs). They correspond to a country, territory, or other geographic location. xamples are us (United States), uk (United Kingdom), de (Germany), and jp (Japan). The list of valid domain names is constantly being revised.
Refer to, for more information about top-level domain names.


In addition to a country-level domain, the us domain is further divided into subdomains, with one subdomain for each state and one for Washington, D.C. The state subdomains are further divided into cities, counties, or other regional groupings. For example, is Cleveland, OH; is San Francisco, CA. While most private domains does not utilize this tedious naming convention, many government agencies do. The trend, however, is toward the simpler dot-origin name method for these government Web sites.

Second-level domains

Second-level domain names can contain both hosts and other domains called subdomains. Host names are added to the beginning of the domain name. For example, in, the name of the host is
Subdomain names may also be added to the domain name; for example,
Descriptions of the domains and their associated levels are illustrated in the MouseOver below:

Top Level Domain

Top Level Domains
In the next lesson, you will learn about the functions, components, and types of URLs.