Tips To Check If DNS Server Is Working Correctly

DNS is one of the most important aspects when it comes to internet connectivity be it in a home or business setting. It helps ensure fast internet connectivity, limit censorship, secure your home or business network and grant you access to content from different geographical locations. However, at times your internet connectivity might experience issues and you might not know whether the problem stems from your ISP provider or your custom DNS server. Here are some tips that can help you know whether your DNS is functioning properly.

Check Network Connectivity

Many people usually jump to blame their DNS servers whenever they encounter a connectivity issue. However, something simple as checking the network connectivity of the problem can save you tons of troubles.

In order for you to check whether the network connectivity of your DNS is working properly, you can log on to the DNS server and then ping a few machines. You can also look for random devices and try pinging your DNS server from them. If this works, then it means that your network connectivity is not to blame.

Note: Ensure that you allow ICMP packets through the firewall of the machine that you are pinging.

Find Out Whether All Users Are Affected

Another tip to check whether your DNS server is working correctly is to check whether the connectivity issues affect all users on the network. If it indeed affects all users in the network, then you will have to trouble shoot your DNS server in order to find out what the problem might be.

However, there are instances when the connectivity issue may only affect a subset of users on the network. This means that the problem is not DNS related and you should instead check your routers or find out if there is a DHCP configuration error.

Trying Alternate DNS Servers

Most DNS servers have two IP addresses that you can connect to. Therefore, if you need to know whether your DNS server is working well, then you’ll have to test the alternate IP address to check  if it’s functioning or not. If you find out that your connectivity issues stop when you change the DNS server then you have confirmed that the problem was indeed related to the DNS server.

Reboot DNS Server

This might seem as a simple step, but in many cases it does seem to work. If you are experiencing internet connection problems and you want to rule out the effect of your DNS server, then rebooting can be an amicable solution. Sometimes, DNS server name resolution stops for unknown reasons and rebooting becomes the best solution.

At times the problem might be as a result of your routers and simply resetting it may fix the solution.

Conclusion

Identifying whether your DNS server is working correctly is one step in solving your internet connection issues.

These 4 tips will help you know whether you need to change your DNS server or make adjustments to your router. However, you can make use of these tools to also identify the best DNS server for your network.

When It Is Better To Use A Custom DNS Server

The internet is increasingly becoming faster and many people are investing in solutions that can ensure that they take advantage of these speeds. However, many people still get fixated with the physical structures behind internet connections rather than the root cause of fast web browsing which are DNS servers.

DNS main service is to convert domain names to their relevant IP addresses which are machine readable.

Most of the times, the DNS server that you use are provided by your ISP, but there exists other free and paid DNS servers that you can make use of. Most of these custom servers come in handy for a variety of reasons.

Here are 5 reasons why it’s better to ditch your ISP provided DNS server and use a custom one instead.

Avoid Censorship

In some areas around the world, censorship is quite rife. Many governments resort to blocking access to certain sites on the internet. Generally, what these governments do is block access to these sites via the local ISPs in that particular country.

Custom DNS servers can enable you to bypass these restrictions even without the use of a VPN (some instances may require the use of one). Therefore, even before you think of getting a VPN, you can make use of some public DNS servers (check our list of public DNS servers). There is a high probability that they will enable you to access censored sites.

Faster Web Browsing

Everyone wants to experience fast internet speeds whenever they are browsing. However, many people usually experience intermittent speeds. Even before you think of changing your ISP (which can be expensive), you should first make use of a custom DNS solution.

Changing your DNS server can lead to fast load times. Furthermore, separate DNS servers are likely to have more sites cached than your local ISP which makes for fast web browsing.

Increase Internet Security

Over the past few years, there have been many cases of website hacks and data leaks. If you are a business that handles sensitive data on its servers, then you should definitely change to a secure custom DNS rather than the one provided by your ISP.

DNS servers provide an added layer of web security against any attacks to your IT environment. Hackers are more prone to attack companies whose DNS environment is least secure. Therefore, it’s important that you get a DNS solution that has added security features in order to protect your IT environment.

Note: You should also invest in other security measures that complement secure DNS servers because hackers can also make use of your IP address to bypass any DNS security checks.

Add Network Wide Parental Controls

If you want to block access to certain sites then you can make use of DNS servers as well. Certain DNS servers such as Open DNS allow you to blacklist sites that you don’t want your devices to access. They are great for securing your kids’ browsing habits and protecting them from unsuitable content.

By Pass Content Restrictions For Geographical Areas

If you want to access region restricted content like movies and music videos, then custom DNS servers can come in handy. Some DNS servers do this by replacing your IP address with one of their thereby tricking the website into thinking that you are in a region where access to that content is allowed.

 

Demand Shift: Are DNS Functions Losing Their Vitality?

Domain Name System is very useful for surfers to gain access to your website. It is the tool that helps to convert your website’s URL into an IP address that allows smooth communication and sharing of information. Internet resources, services, computers and private network make use of DNS where names are arranged in a hierarchical decentralized pattern. Troubleshooting for DNS problem is very common. Some common examples of these problems are when your version of Windows OS loses the DNS thus making access to websites impossible, or when the update of the DNS does not function properly.

Some experts are using a local router to run their DNS for hostnames in their LAN. Thus, to validate, execute cache and recursive functions for DNS resolver the Unbound tool is very useful. Such DNS resolver is useful in determining the domain server that is responsible for a particular website’s name.

The process of resolving is executed through the aid of different queries beginning from the foremost label for a domain. The demand for DNS maybe shifting as new technology and advancement in hardware and software development continues. However, DNS usefulness is still invaluable.

How Useful Is DNS In The Contemporary Cyber World?

Real Life Example – PieForFamily.com

Pie For FamilyPieForFamily project has been originally hosted on DNS given by the hosting company it is using. The user experience in the United States might have been proper, but rest of the world suffered with lots of waiting to see the video content. The solution? To use Cloudflare. Their servers are basically all over the world giving the perfect connectivity to the website. DNS setup these days can be tricky, but thanks to Cloudflare it’s super easy to basically fix all of the issues with single click.

 Pie For Family (click to visit) – adult entertainment series dedicated to step-family relations that are going sexual. Step siblings are messing around, while parents are home – it definitely doesn’t stop them.

How Useful Is DNS In The Contemporary Cyber World?

DNS is still very much useful in today’s cyber world and internet operations. Despite the observed numbers of problems with DNS, it is a useful system for naming and arrangement for internet resources and the creation of orderly domain names to avoid confusion.

Like a phone book, the domain name system is germane for computers and machines to operate smoothly while accessing websites and other resources. A human being can remember a domain name easily, but computers can only remember and read IP addresses for websites, not their names.

So, the DNS is very useful in ensuring that the collated domain names are presented as IP addresses for computers to decipher easily.

Pattern DNS Presents Its Information To Computers

Pattern DNS Presents Its Information To Computers

As aforementioned, the computers read differently from the way we human reads domains names and remember them by these names. The DNS helps in gathering all domain names from different servers available on the internet. These domain names are then housed in a central registry.

The registries are consistently updated by domain host companies and operators of internet services. The domain names are stored as IP addresses, for example, 261.164.220.67 IP address represents a domain name. Hence, when internet users type a domain name to access a website, the internet provider converts this name to a machine-friendly IP address for the surfer to get the right address.  With this function, it is seen that the DNS is still very necessary in the modern internet world.

Usually, new domain names are registered between 12 to 36 hours in the DNS server. The use of protocol and records are very significant to the successful operation of the DNS system.

Some utilities to aid proper functioning of the DNS are available on the internet. PowerDNS open source products are an example of these utilities. This platform has user-friendly integrated open source products for an excellent performance of the DNS.

Interesting Information About DNS Servers

Before DNS servers came into existence, a website could only be identified by machines through its host name. All of these host names were saved in one large file known as the hosts.txt. However, this method of managing host names became hard to maintain given the tremendous growth in computer networks during the period between 1970 and 1980.

DNS servers were the solution that everyone was waiting for thanks to the work done by Paul Mockapetris’ which cast light towards this direction.

Over the years the architecture and use of DNS servers has been extensively researched on and applied in order to enhance web security and fast web browsing. (Find out more about DNS here)

Here are some of the most interesting facts about DNS servers that you probably never knew about.

100 Million Registered Domain Names

According to Domain Tools Statistics, there are over 100 million domains registered in the whole world (and most of us probably visit 10 domains on a daily basis). Most of these domains are associated with businesses, small organizations and individuals. This pretty much shows how effective the use of DNS has been to the currently technological landscape.

30 Years Old

Many people usually think that DNS servers are a new invention that was created in the 21st century. However, DNS servers trace their roots back to November 1983 from two papers that were published by Paul Mockapetris. These papers were named RFC 882 and RFC 883. Since then, more work has been done in order to make DNS servers as effective and secure as they are today.

Started Off With 6 Original Top Level Domains

Top level domains refer to the .org or .com prefix of websites. Currently there are over 700 top level domains (with some having queer prefixes such as .soy). It’s even more interesting to note that the first top level domains to be implemented in the 80s were only 6. This six top level domains included; .com, .org, .biz, .mil, .net and .edu.

The influx in top level domains can be attributed to an ambitious goal set out by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in 2011. They embarked on a campaign of better mapping out domains according to their uses by releasing new top level domains.

Forward And Reverse DNS Lookups

Did you know that DNS not only convert host names to IP addresses, but can also convert IP addresses to domain names as well? The former is known as a forward DNS lookup whereas the latter is referred to as a reverse DNS lookup. While reverse DNS lookups are rarely used (who’s going to remember an IP address instead of a host name?), they usually help network administrators whenever they want to troubleshoot certain domain aspects by using utilities like ping.

Highly Targeted For Hacking Purposes

One major disadvantage of DNS is that it is highly targeted for hacking purposes. Many hackers usually try to gain access to the DNS server records of particular websites. If successful, they can be able to redirect users to their own sites where they can carry out phishing of user information or carry out other malware attacks.

By being able to understand how DNS servers work, you can be able to know how best to protect your devices and sites. Apart from it being highly targeted by hackers, DNS servers certainly have great advantages that can be leveraged for both personal and business usage.

Furthermore, with proper security channels properly configured, you will never have to worry about the security of your information being compromised.

Tools For Testing DNS Server Speed

A lot of the DNS services normally advertise on their fast speed capabilities and how they’ll be able to deliver a seamless web browsing experience. However, it’s important to note that your web browsing speed is not directly affected by the speed of your DNS servers; it’s also affected by how far the DNS server is located from you. Therefore, if you want to know how fast a specific DNS will be from your location, it’s important that you carry out a speed test. (Check out our comprehensive list of public DNS servers).

Here are some tools that you can use to check the performance of your server;

Namebench

Namebench was created by the tech wizards at Google. It’s designed to find the best name server for your computer by taking factors like web browsing history, tcpdump output and standardized datasets into consideration. This means that two computers sitting side by side can have different results.

So how does it work?

When you activate Namebench, a test setup window will appear on your computer. The first section will prompt you to put in the name servers which you want to include in your test. Generally there are three sections;

  • Name servers: This refers to all the name servers that are of interest to you.
  • Include Global DNS providers: If you also want to do a test with other public DNS providers like Open DNS, then you should definitely tick this check box.
  • Include best available regional DNS services: This option will allow Namebench to automatically include the best performing DNS servers that are located in your area.

The next section will prompt you to select which tests you want to run on the DNS servers in question. Namebench will cumulatively take all of these tests into consideration and identify the fastest DNS server for your usage. You should therefore choose the tests that are more likely to benefit your web browsing. The tests include;

  • Include censorship checks: This option is for those people who are interested in getting a DNS server that limits censorship in their geographical location and at the fastest speeds.
  • Query data source: You have to specify where the test will obtain its test data sources from. By default it’s usually set to your browser history; however, you can change it to the top 2000 websites.
  • Health check performance: This option allows you to test a multitude of DNS servers (10-40). However, this test will depend on your bandwidth as well.
  • Number of queries: This option allows you to select the number of queries sent to each DNS name server.

The results will tell which name server is fastest for your web browsing and you can easily change this in your network adapter’s configuration settings.

GRC’s DNS Benchmark

GRC’s DNS benchmark is another great tool for checking on the speed of DNS servers. It’s lightweight when compared to Namebench as it is only 164KB whereas Namebench is 5MB. DNS benchmark will help you test up to 200 publicly available DNS server as well as those servers that are currently in use by your machine. It also allows you to shorten the list of servers or add your own DNS servers that you want to test.

Just like Namebench, it also gives you a number of tests that you can run which include; caches lookups, un-cached lookups, dotcom lookups, reliability and rebinding protection.

Furthermore, it has a great way of presenting its results. It gives you the best DNS server for use by your computer and even suggests the sequence of setting up your IP addresses.

If you would like to check other DNS speed test tools you can also check this list by Senki.

The Working Principles Of DNS Servers

Before you get to understand the working principles of DNS Servers, it’s important that you understand domain names first. Domain names are usually formed from several parts which are normally separated by dots. The basic form of a domain involves at least two parts. Domain names are usually labelled from right to left. The extreme right part is known the top level domain i.e. .com, .org etc. Each subsequent level located on the left of the domain name is known as the sub domains.

Domain Levels

Generally, a domain name can be divided into 127 levels with each part containing not more than 63 characters. For example let’s say that you have a domain xyz.com and you have two locations of your business south and north. Therefore, the domain for the south will be south.xyz.com and for the north will be north.xyz.com. Let’s further assume that you are located in the north and you have your own subdomain therefore it will be chapx.north.xyz.com. These levels can continue being added until you reach the maximum of 127 levels.

However, while adding each level you also have to consider a 254 character limit for your domain name.

DNS Servers And Working Principles

Each domain and subdomain supports multiple DNS Servers. This DNS Servers usually contain all the information about that particular domain. The main working principle of DNS Servers goes like this. A user enters a domain name in the web browser e.g. north.xyz.com. However, in order for them to receive corresponding data for that domain name, it’s necessary that the domain name is converted into a machine readable state known as an IP address. This means that the IP-address of the server will be requested from the data center before you can be able to access your site.

Note: If you are interested in finding out the IP address of each site, then you can use the ping command. To access it, you need to run the command window in Windows. Search for cmd (In Windows 10/8/7) then click on it. In the resulting window, type ping followed by the site name e.g. ping north.xyz.com then press enter. Afterwards a window will appear displaying a group of numbers (e.g. 185.152.25.25), which are the site’s IP address.

Host Names And IP Addresses

It’s important to note that domain names don’t necessarily equal to one IP address. Many domain names can have a specific IP address whereas one name can be related with a number of different IP addresses.

DNS Servers Back up

You might be wondering where all the information on the internet is stored and how it can be retrieved in case websites go down. Well, there are 13 servers around the world which contain the same information. These 13 servers are known as the root servers because they are the ones that hold the entire internet.

Forward And Reverse DNS

DNS Servers not only convert domain names to IP addresses, but they can also convert IP addresses to domain names. The former is known as forward lookup whereas the latter is known as reverse lookup.

1. DNS Records

There are generally six categories in DNS records. These include;

2. A Record (Address Record)

This record is the one that normally links up domain names to a specific IP address.

3. CNAME

Known in full as Canonical Name, it’s a tool which is used to divert requests to an alternative name

4. MX (Mail Exchanger)

This refers to the tool that is responsible for the mail exchanges for that particular domain.

5. PTR (Pointer Record)

This record is used for connecting the domain name to the established CNAME.

6. Ns (Name Servers)

Name server is an alternate name for a DNS Server. It generally points the domain name to the DNS Server.

7. SOA (State Of Authority Record)

The SOA refers to a server which has all the standard information for that particular domain.

Conclusion

You are probably confused by now of what DNS server software to use. The good thing is that many machines come with pre-installed server software that you can make use of unless you feel the need of changing it.

Here is guide on how to configure DNS server software on your Windows machine.

Compare The Different DNS Servers: Which One Is Right For You?

DNS (Domain Name Server) is one of the most integral components of the internet. Not so many people know about it yet it is one of the crucial pillars that hold the entire internet together. Just to know how integral DNS is, when you were accessing this site, there are many background processes that were queried without your realization. It also renders domain names usable. If DNS was not working properly, you would have had to type in the IP address of this site in order for you to access the content.

There are very many different DNS server software today. Each DNS server has its own set of characteristics that differentiate it from the rest. Here’s a comparison of the different DNS servers out there.

BIND

BIND was written in the 1980’s. It has been in existence for over 30 years during which it has been able receive constant upgrades. It is still regarded as one of the best DNS server software.

Bind can be able to serve as an authoritative name server or a recurs or. It also has some of most advanced DNS features which include IPv6, DNSSEC and TIG transfers. It also has an intuitive web interface that makes it easy to manage the server. You can also manage it through the command line interface.

During its earlier years, BIND was mostly used in UNIX platforms. However, given the number of upgrades that it has had over the years, BIND can be used across all platforms nowadays.

Unbound

Unbound is a more recent server software having been developed in 2006. It was later rewritten from its original Java form to C language. What makes Unbound a great DNS server software is the fact that it was made with modern features in mind and using the latest technologies that are a requirement for modern day server technology. Unlike BIND which can be used as both an authoritative and recursive name server, Unbound can only be used as a recursive name server. However, it has modules which support the DNSSEC feature.

Just like BIND, Unbound was created for use on Unix-like operating systems. However, recent developments have allowed it to be used on Windows machines.

PowerDNS

PowerDNS was written in C+++ in the late 1990s. It has been able to rise to become of the top DNS server software rivalling veterans like BIND. Part of this rise was contributed to the fact that it had a huge developer community who were always contributing to it. As of now, PowerDNS is a fully robust DNS server software that has all features similar to those of BIND and other powerful DNS servers.

However, unlike BIND and Unbound, PowerDNS does not have an interface. For you to manage it, you’ll have to be conversant with the command line interface.

Erl-DNS

Just as the name suggests, Erl-DNS was written in the Erlang language. It can be used as an authoritative name server and also provides fast query responses.

It features a number of storage techniques for zone data can be extended through the module system present in Erlang.

Dnsmasq

Dnsmasq is a free software that was first released in 2001. It one of the lightest DNS servers and can be easily configured. It also works as a DHCP server and a DNS forwarder. Just like PowerDNS, Dnsmasq can only be managed through the command line interface. It’s generally recommended for small networks.

Given that it is under the GPL licence, Dnsmasq has become a part of Linux distributions nowadays.

Microsoft DNS

Just as the name suggests, this is the server software for Windows machines. It can be able to serve as an authoritative name server as well as a recursive one. It features a standard DNS zone file, supports CLI management, DNSSEC, Dynamic DNS and NSEC3 support among others. It can be generally used on many enterprise networks.