DNS resolver

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The client-side of the DNS is called a DNS resolver. It is responsible for initiating and sequencing the queries that ultimately lead to a full resolution (translation) of the resource sought, e.g., translation of a domain name into an IP address.

A DNS query may be either a non-recursive query or a recursive query:

  • A non-recursive query is one in which the DNS server provides a record for a domain for which it is authoritative itself, or it provides a partial result without querying other servers.
  • A recursive query is one for which the DNS server will fully answer the query (or give an error) by querying other name servers as needed. DNS servers are not required to support recursive queries.

The resolver, or another DNS server acting recursively on behalf of the resolver, negotiates use of recursive service using bits in the query headers.

Resolving usually entails iterating through several name servers to find the needed information. However, some resolvers function more simply by communicating only with a single name server. These simple resolvers (called "stub resolvers") rely on a recursive name server to perform the work of finding information for them.