DNS, short for Domain Name Server, is a series of records your domain name is connected to, acting like phone number or house address to redirect to your website upon searching for the address.
There are various types of DNS records with different functions, however 3 of the more common ones you'll see under your domain management panel are:
The A Record
The primary DNS record is the A record, which is an IP address (for example, 54.122.568.125) where your website is hosted. By syncing the A record to your domain name, you are essentially giving the domain an address to search and head to once a person types the URL in a browser. The browser essentially looks for the address via servers, and determines where the host is. This process takes milliseconds to complete.
The CNAME Record
CNAME stands for Canonical Name records, and is primarily used as an alias for an IP address and/or subdomains. CNAMEs can not be IP addresses as they only function on alphabetical URLs and addresses.
The MX Record
This record controls your email exchange server and defines how your incoming and outgoing email will be configured. MX records are usually hostnames, not IP addresses, however there are instances where an A record can point to an email server which is written in the form of an IP address.
Other DNS Features
DNS also supports caching, where information is stored on your browser to minimize loading times. This is very helpful, especially if one visits a website frequently.
It is also important to note that any DNS updates done to your domain name usually take about 24-48 hours to fully propagate across the World Wide Web. If you plan on purchasing a domain name and configuring it to your host, such as Go Daddy, or Hostgator, keep these time frames in mind to ensure a successful site launch.