The following is a guest blog post from Nate Lindstrom of the leading DNS and traffic management platform NS1. EasyRedir and NS1 are working together on seamless URL redirects.

Once upon a time, web browsers were persnickety pieces of software that demanded you input an exact URL, including the protocol field, like this: http://www.example.com/. If you did anything less, they’d refuse to cooperate. Nowadays, the modern web browser requires only a minimal URL to take you to your desired destination, like simply typing “example.com”. But what goes on under the hood has not changed at all. Rather, modern web browsers simply make assumptions about user behavior and add on the missing bits of information, like the http:// and the trailing /.

That http:// indicates that you wish to connect to a web server, one that speaks the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, or HTTP. This specifies the language of the conversation that will happen between your browser and the web server. But before that conversation happens, you must first connect to the web server over an underlying set of protocols which power the entire Internet, called TCP/IP.

All web servers are identified by an IP address, such as 10.1.100.2 or 192.168.100.5. But remembering your favorite websites’ IP addresses would be as impossible as recalling all of your friends’ and family members’ phone numbers, and dialing them from memory. That’s why your phone has a contact list or address book. On the Internet, the Domain Name Service, or the DNS, acts like an address book: it maps easily – remembered names like example.com to not-so-easily remembered IP addresses.

When you dial your friend by tapping his name in your address book, you don’t know that they may have call forwarding enabled, and could be answering your call on a second phone with a different number than the one you dialed. It ends up not mattering at all, since you’re still talking to the person you wanted to call. On the Internet, this can happen between web servers, when one web server forwards you on to another web server.

DNS gets you to the IP address of the first web server, and after your browser establishes a TCP/IP connection, it speaks HTTP and requests some content – typically a web page. But in the case of a web redirect, rather than responding with a web page, or a video, or an image, or whatever it was your browser asked for, the web server responds with a 301 or 302 Redirect command, and includes a new URL where you can retrieve the requested content.

Your browser dutifully follows this redirection, and must again employ the DNS to resolve the new URL to the new IP address. It then establishes a new TCP/IP connection, speaks HTTP again, and requests the same content. Now, it is possible for yet another redirect to occur – in fact, redirects can be chained together, up to an arbitrary limit – but in most cases only a single redirect happens before you get the content you want.

The only way you might notice that you traversed a redirect is the URL in your browser bar changing; for example, you might have initially gone to “example.com” but when the page loads it comes from “example.net”.

When you are operating a website and need to redirect certain URLs from one place to another, what matters most are two things: speed and reliability. You absolutely do not want your users’ experience being degraded by a long wait for the DNS resolution of your domain name to your web server’s IP address, nor do you want your users to become discouraged by a long wait as they are redirected from one location to another. Every millisecond counts!

Additionally, both the DNS resolution and the URL redirection must be supremely reliable, even in the face of heavy usage or a DDoS attack against one or both services. In every way possible, your bottom line depends upon your web visitors’ experience being seamless, fast, and consistent.

This is why EasyRedir and NS1 are a match made in heaven: EasyRedir has a purpose-built infrastructure that does one thing only, and does it extremely well: redirecting your visitors from one URL to another, lightning fast, 100% of the time. Taking this one step further and resolving your URL’s domain names to the IP addresses of EasyRedir and your own web servers, NS1 has a world-wide anycasted network of 25 locations that do nothing but serve authoritative DNS for most of the Internet’s largest properties, including Yelp, LinkedIn, Dropbox, and Nielsen. Together with EasyRedir, you can rest assured that your web visitors will experience the fastest and most reliable web browsing imaginable!

William Richards, Founder & CEO of EasyRedir says:

We’re pleased to have connected with NS1. They are great at what they do and they understand the value we provide at EasyRedir. Together we can provide top-notch URL redirection services that can scale up and down as needed without sacrificing speed or efficiency.

About Nate Lindstrom

Nate Lindstrom is the VP of Solutions Engineering for NS1, a next generation DNS and traffic management platform architected to service the most demanding, mission-critical applications on the internet. He has significant experience building, operating, and securing cloud environments for a number of companies including Yahoo! and Salesforce.

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