Anyone who owns a domain name will have heard of the terms DNS. It may not come up very often but when it does having an understanding of what DNS is and how it works can be a huge help. Like the contacts on your mobile phone, DNS links the name of your website (your domain name) to the IP address of the server where your website is hosted.
When you register a domain name you will probably want to use it for either a website, email or both. Websites and email systems are both run on web servers. Like every other computer that is connected to the internet a web server will have its own unique number called an IP address which is used to identify it.
When you type a website into your browsers address bar it will look at the DNS records to find the IP address of the server where the website is hosted (the same thing happens when you send an email). Once it knows which server has the website it can then direct the browser to go to that server and request the website.
DNS records are kept on specific DNS servers which are dotted about all over the internet. When you update a domain names DNS record on one DNS server the change then ripples out to all the other DNS servers. As a rule this can take up to 24 hours but in reality is usually much quicker than that.
There are actually a few different types of DNS records you can attach to a domain name but on the whole the two main ones you will come across are called A Records which are used to direct web traffic and MX Records which deal with emails.