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What's My IP Address?

What Is a DNS Server?

by Drake on May 31, 2010

I imagine that a lot of our readers have had at least once been asked to enter their DNS server address, for example when configuring a new gaming console with online gameplay features, like the PlayStation 2, the PlayStation 3, the Xbox, or the Nintendo Wii.

If this is all you are interested about, you can skip to the next paragraph, but first maybe you should understand what a DNS server is. In our last article, I explained what is an IP address, and I told you that every computer connected to the Internet is assigned a specific and unique IP address. Anyhow, you have noticed that when accessing a website, you are not typing its IP address, but its domain name – for example, google.com. Well, this is possible thanks to the DNS or Domain Name System. The Domain Name System can be considered as a sort of phone book where human readable addresses – like google.com – are translated into their corresponding IP address. A much more technical description of the DNS system can be found on Wikipedia.

So, when you type google.com in your browser, your computer is connecting to a machine known as a DNS server, part of the aforementioned Domain Name System, which translates google.com into its corresponding IP address.

How Can I Find Out My DNS Server’s IP?

Depending on your operating system, there are different ways of finding out your current DNS server’s IP. Often, computers can use two different DNS servers – this is done to have a fail safe option in case the first DNS server in the list is not answering the request.

Find Out DNS Server Addresses on Windows Systems

  1. Open a DOS prompt (Start -> Run -> Type “cmd” -> Press Enter)
  2. Now type
    ipconfig /all
  3. Look for the DNS Servers line to get your DNS addresses

Find Out Dns Server Addresses on UNIX-based Systems (Linux,Mac OS X)

  1. Open a shell prompt (on Mac OS-X, open Terminal)
  2. Type the following command:
    cat /etc/resolv.conf
  3. You should now see something like this if you are behind a router that is acting as your DNS:
    or something like this if you are connecting directly to the Internet and using a public DNS:

Setting Up DNS Server Address On Gaming Consoles

Each gaming console has a different setup routine, but if you are using a Wi-Fi connection in your home and your game console is equipped with a Wi-Fi card then the console should able to take care of the configuration by itself. The same should happen if you are connecting your console with an Ethernet cable directly to the router.

Anyhow, in some cases, your console might be expecting to receive DNS information automatically by the router, whereas the router is configured otherwise. Other times, DNS servers in the router are not working properly with your console or are too slow. In these cases, you can go to the Network Settings of your console and change the DNS Settings from automatic to manual. This should be available in all modern gaming consoles, including portable ones like the PSP.

In the Manual Settings page of your console, change the primary and secondary DNS servers to these values:

These are freely available DNS servers offered by OpenDNS.


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