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What is DNS propagation, and how long does it take to complete?

Ben Scheribel


Aug. 16, 2022

If you are reading this article, you are probably on the cusp of moving your new website live or may want to learn more about DNS and propagation. These subjects may seem slightly daunting or mystical at first, but the process is simple once you understand the key concepts. Neomark’s senior developer, Ben Scheribel, takes a look and breaks down this subject matter piece by piece, so whether you’re a front-end developer, business owner, or organizational leader ready to launch your new site, here is a rundown of the propagation process:

What is DNS?

In the world of networking, computers use numbers to talk to each other. The numbers that identify computers on the internet are called IP addresses. An IP address is a set of numbers separated by periods. An example IP address might be Think of IP addresses like the home address of a friend or family member. You need to know your friend’s address in order to drive to their house. In the same way, computers need to know IP addresses in order to be able to send information such as emails, web pages, or photos around the internet.

The problem is that for humans, it is much easier to remember the name of a website like google.com than to remember a random string of numbers such as This is where DNS or Domain Name System comes in. DNS bridges the communication gap between computers and humans.

DNS resolves names to numbers. Or more specifically, it resolves domain names to IP addresses. This way, instead of typing in something like in to your web browser, you can simply type google.com. Then DNS will convert the easy to remember domain name (google.com) to the IP address ( and load the site in your browser. Another way you can think about DNS is that it’s like a phone book. It manages the mapping between names and numbers. So, when you request a website, DNS is essentially “looking through the phone book” and finding which number (IP address) goes with which domain name.

What is DNS propagation?

When you make a change to your website’s DNS, such as pointing your site to a new hosting provider, the changes don’t happen instantaneously. This is because there are multiple DNS servers throughout the world, and they all need to be updated. The process of updating all the servers is called propagation and it takes time to fully complete. The changes can take up to 72 hours to propagate worldwide, although it may take as little as a few hours.

How to Flush Your DNS Cache

If your website’s DNS has been updated but you aren’t seeing the changes reflected in your browser, this may be caused by DNS cache stored locally on your computer or phone. Cache is a type of computer memory in which information that is often in use can be stored temporarily and accessed quickly. Your device will cache the DNS info for a website in order to speed things up the next time you make a website request. Going back to the phone book example above, this is basically saving time for the DNS. Because with the info cached, the DNS doesn’t have to take time “flipping through the phone book” to find what IP address to request. Your computer already knows the IP address so it can just make the request directly.

The steps to flush your cache will differ based on which operating system (OS) you use. Please see the links below for instructions on how to flush cache for your OS.





Another alternative to flushing your cache is to simply reboot your device and load the website again.

If you have any follow-up questions or inquiries on this subject, please email Ben at ben@neomarkdigitalsolutions.com for further explanation.