Lab – Observing DNS Resolution Answers Lab – Observing DNS Resolution Answers

Lab – Observing DNS Resolution (Answers Version)

Answers Note: Red font color or gray highlights indicate text that appears in the instructor copy only.


Part 1: Observe the DNS Conversion of a URL to an IP Address

Part 2: Observe DNS Lookup Using the nslookup Command on a Web Site

Part 3: Observe DNS Lookup Using the nslookup Command on Mail Servers

Background / Scenario

The Domain Name System (DNS) is invoked when you type a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), such as http://www.cisco.com, into a web browser. The first part of the URL describes which protocol is used. Common protocols are Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer (HTTPS), and File Transfer Protocol (FTP).

DNS uses the second part of the URL, which in this example is www.cisco.com. DNS translates the domain name (www.cisco.com) to an IP address to allow the source host to reach the destination host. In this lab, you will observe DNS in action and use the nslookup (name server lookup) command to obtain additional DNS information. Work with a partner to complete this lab.

Required Resources

1 PC (Windows 7 or 8 with Internet and command prompt access)

Part 1: Observe the DNS Conversion of a URL to an IP Address

  1. Click the Windows Start button, type cmd into the search field, and press Enter. The command prompt window appears.
  2. At the command prompt, ping the URL for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) at www.icann.org. ICANN coordinates the DNS, IP addresses, top-level domain name system management, and root server system management functions. The computer must translate www.icann.org into an IP address to know where to send the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) packets.
    The first line of the output displays www.icann.org converted to an IP address by DNS. You should be able to see the effect of DNS, even if your institution has a firewall that prevents pinging, or if the destination server has prevented you from pinging its web server.
    Note: If the domain name is resolved to an IPv6 address, use the command ping -4 www.icann.org to translate into an IPv4 address if desired.icann_ping_prompt.pngRecord the IP address of www.icann.org. __________________________________
  3. Type the IP address from step b into a web browser, instead of the URL. Click Continue to this website (not recommended). to proceed.icann_security_warning.png
  4. Notice that the ICANN home web page is displayed.Most humans find it easier to remember words, rather than numbers. If you tell someone to go to www.icann.org, they can probably remember that. If you told them to go to, they would have a difficult time remembering an IP address. Computers process in numbers. DNS is the process of translating words into numbers. There is a second translation that takes place. Humans think in Base 10 numbers. Computers process in Base 2 numbers. The Base 10 IP address in Base 2 numbers is 11000000.00000000.00100000.00000111. What happens if you cut and paste these Base 2 numbers into a browser?____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    The web site does not display. The software code used in web browsers recognizes Base 10 numbers. It does not recognize Base 2 numbers.
  5. Now type ping www.cisco.com.
    Note: If the domain name is resolved to an IPv6 address, use the command ping -4 www.cisco.com to translate into an IPv4 address if desired.ping www cisco com
  6. When you ping www.cisco.com, do you get the same IP address as the example? Explain.
    Answer will vary depending upon where you are geographically. Cisco hosts its web content on a series of mirror servers. This means that Cisco uploads the exact same content to geographically diverse (spread out all over the world) servers. When someone tries to reach www.cisco.com, the traffic is directed to the closest mirror server.
  7. Type the IP address that you obtained when you pinged www.cisco.com into a browser. Does the web site display? Explain.
    The cisco.com web site does not display. There are at least two possible explanations for this: 1. Some web servers are configured to accept IP addresses sent from a browser and some are not. 2. It may be a firewall rule in the Cisco security system that prohibits an IP address from being sent via a browser.

Part 2: Observe DNS Lookup Using the nslookup Command on a Web Site

  1. At the command prompt, type the nslookup command.nslookupWhat is the default DNS server used? _________________________________________
    Site dependent
    Notice how the command prompt changed to a greater than (>) symbol. This is the nslookup prompt. From this prompt, you can enter commands related to DNS.
    At the prompt, type ? to see a list of all the available commands that you can use in nslookup mode.
  2. At the prompt, type www.cisco.com.www cisco com at nslookup promptWhat is the translated IP address? ________________________________________________
    From a specific location,
    Note: The IP address from your location will most likely be different because Cisco uses mirrored servers in various locations around the world.
    Is it the same as the IP address shown with the ping command? _________________ Yes
    Under addresses, in addition to the IP address, there are the following numbers: 2600:1408:7:1:9300::90, 2600:1408:7:1:8000::90, 2600:1408:7:1:9800::90. What are these?____________________________________________________________________________________
    IPv6 (IP version 6) IP addresses at which the web site is reachable.
  3. At the prompt, type the IP address of the Cisco web server that you just found. You can use nslookup to get the domain name of an IP address if you do not know the URL.IP address at nslookup prompt to get domain nameYou can use the nslookup tool to translate domain names into IP addresses. You can also use it to translate IP addresses into domain names.
    Using the nslookup tool, record the IP addresses associated with www.google.com.
    Answers may vary. At the time of writing, the IP addresses are,,,,, and www google com

Part 3: Observe DNS Lookup Using the nslookup Command on Mail Servers

  1. At the prompt, type set type=mx to use nslookup to identify mail servers.set type mx
  2. At the prompt, type cisco.com.mail servers cisco comA fundamental principle of network design is redundancy (more than one mail server is configured). In this way, if one of the mail servers is unreachable, then the computer making the query tries the second mail server. Email administrators determine which mail server is contacted first by using MX preference (see above image). The mail server with the lowest MX preference is contacted first. Based upon the output above, which mail server will be contacted first when the email is sent to cisco.com?____________________________________________________________________________________
  3. At the nslookup prompt, type exit to return to the regular PC command prompt.
  4. At the PC command prompt, type ipconfig /all.
  5. Write the IP addresses of all the DNS servers that your school uses.


What is the fundamental purpose of DNS?


People process in words. Computers process in numbers. People have a difficult time remembering a long string of numbers. Therefore, DNS exists to translate the “numbers” world of computers to the “words” world of people.

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