What does a Recursive DNS server do?

The topic of our article today is precisely the importance of a Recursive DNS server. So, if you want to learn its primary purpose and its benefits, you are in the right place. But first, let’s explain exactly is the meaning behind the Domain Name System, or DNS.

Domain Name System (DNS) – meaning

The process of converting domain names into IP addresses is known as the Domain Name System (DNS). Domains can be referred to in two ways. First, domain names are the human way. The simple method for humans to remember the name of their favorite or required websites. And then there’s the machine way, IP addresses, which are long strings of numbers that computers use to communicate with one another.

To access websites, humans enter domain names into their browsers. Then the conversion to IP address occurs so that machines may communicate in order to find the website.

What is the purpose of a Recursive DNS server?

First, a word regarding “recursion” is inserted in the name of this server. Recursion is a method of solving problems in computer science. A solution or process that will repeat itself at the appropriate periods in order to achieve its purpose.

A Recursive DNS server or DNS Resolver is in charge of finding the information needed to respond to client requests.

When a client requests a domain name, a Recursive DNS server will look for the IP address corresponding to that domain name until it finds it. It will then deliver it to the browser that made the request. Finally, the device will connect and reach the client’s domain using this information.


The Recursive DNS server has two main advantages. They are as follows:

  • The DNS Resolver saves information in a cache. That is, it stores all previous requests for a particular time period (TTL). 
  • It’s fast! Above, we say that it caches data. That means, it has already stored information about which IP address responds to which domain. So this allows it to respond to requests considerably more quickly. 

Authoritative DNS server vs. Recursive DNS server

A prevalent comparison is that of a Recursive DNS server with an Authoritative DNS server. Why? Because they are the two servers via which requests, for example, to a particular site, are processed. Therefore, we can characterize them as they store the canonical information indicating which IP address belongs to which domain.

In brief, authoritative DNS servers keep track of the “maps” that connect your domain names to IP addresses. System administrators customarily set up this mapping of domain names to IP addresses. When someone visits a website, DNS Resolvers are used for hunting up information. Then, the Recursive DNS servers seek an answer from the needed authoritative name server. The Recursive Name server then sends the response to the person who requested it.


Finally, you can gladly say that you are familiar with the purpose of the Recursive DNS server. Its main benefit is that it can cache data information. For that reason, it provides a speedy answer to the request.

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