Do you have any idea how your computer, phone, or tablet finds its way to a website when you type in a domain name like techphr.com? This isn’t some sort of magical occurrence. None of them would function without the domain name system (DNS) and the DNS servers at its core.
What exactly is a DNS server, and how does it translate a hostname into an IP address that can communicate with the correct web server? Is there a way to tell if your domain name server is functioning correctly? There are some weaknesses in the system that could be exploited if you weren’t paying attention.
Let’s break down the Domain Name System (DNS) operation and what to do if your DNS server is down.
What Is a DNS Server?
You, your next-door neighbour, and your long-lost relatives halfway around the world can all type the same URL into your browser, and you’ll all end up at the same place. The domain name system (DNS) stores information about every website that is accessible to the public and is thus essential to the operation of the web.
DNS servers are responsible for connecting domain names and hostnames with their respective Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (for www.google.com, the hostname would be www). There are only 13 DNS root name server addresses, and they are all managed by different organisations from all over the world. These 13 groups host hundreds of identical root servers that all use the same IP addresses to ensure maximum speed and redundancy.
A domain name, such as google.com, is much simpler for users to remember than an IP address.
In case you were wondering, Google’s IP address is 126.96.36.199. In the absence of a free dynamic DNS provider or a static IP address, a website host must supply their own IP address.
Typically, your Internet service provider’s DNS servers will be your first choice. Using public DNS servers, such as Google’s 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206, can also help you stay safe online.
Why Is the DNS Server Unavailable?
When a domain you type into your browser does not load, it could be due to an issue with your DNS server. Your domain name system (DNS) server may be down due to maintenance or connectivity issues (such as an internet outage).
How to Perform a DNS Flush on Different Operating Systems
For starters, if you’re using your ISP-supplied DNS settings and you’re still getting a DNS server not responding error, try rebooting your router. There may be no further action required to restore access to the DNS servers.
If that fails, clearing your DNS cache may help.
On Windows, run Command Prompt as an administrator and type:
On macOS, assuming you are running OS X or later, open a terminal and type:
sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder
Without the nscd programme, Linux-based OSes do not cache DNS lookups. Just in case:
sudo /etc/init.d/nscd restart
After exhausting all other options, and in the event that your DNS server is down for an extended period, you should consider configuring your own.
Why You Should Set Custom DNS Settings?
You can usually avoid using your ISP’s default DNS settings. If you’d rather use a different set of DNS servers, you can tell your device to do so.
As we discussed, changing your DNS server is one way to improve your online security. Parents can protect their children from inappropriate content and malicious software by switching to a DNS service like OpenDNS.
Acceleration is a major benefit of using a different DNS server. Changing your DNS settings to a faster provider can help you reclaim valuable time after realising that each page is taking a few extra seconds to load than it should have. If your ISP’s DNS servers aren’t well-maintained, even a fast connection could feel sluggish.
If the servers you’re using are unreliable and constantly going down, changing your DNS settings can help.
Changing your DNS server settings from your ISP’s may be necessary if you plan on using a VPN. You should also establish a VPN connection to use DNS leak protection effectively in Windows. Don’t do it if you don’t want DNS leaks to expose your identity to snooping authorities.
How to Change Your DNS Settings
Updates to DNS settings are simple on modern OSes like Windows and macOS, but can be more involved in Linux (depending on the distribution). It’s important to think about which alternate DNS provider settings you’ll be using before making any changes to your DNS configuration. Some DNS providers, like Google DNS and Cloudflare DNS, focus on providing quick and secure connections.
Changing DNS on Windows
- Press Windows+X and go to Settings > Network & Internet > Network & Sharing Center > More Network Adapter Settings.
- In the next window, right-click on the internet connection you are currently using and select Properties.
- Now, enable Use the following DNS server addresses and fill in the preferred alternate DNS server addresses with your chosen DNS providers.
- Click on OK and restart your PC.
Changing DNS on macOS
- Click on the Systems Preferences icon on your dock, and then click Network.
- Make sure your connection is selected, then click Advanced > DNS.
- After that, remove any existing DNS servers with the – icon, then hit the + icon to enter your new addresses.
- When everything is complete, click on OK.
Changing DNS On Linux
In order to change your DNS settings on Linux, you’ll need to know which Linux distribution you have. It will also depend on the network manager used by the distribution. ‘
If you’re an Ubuntu user, you’ll need to manage your IP address settings on Ubuntu either through the GUI or by editing the relevant configuration files in a terminal editor. You’ll also need to know a few Linux networking commands before you change your DNS.
Dangers of DNS Malware
DNS spoofing can be used by malware authors to manipulate the domain name system for their own benefit. ‘ DNS malware can alter your DNS settings so that instead of going to Google’s homepage, you’ll be taken to an alternate server. There’s a good chance that your PC will take you to a completely different website even though it looks like Google and the URL matches.
Unknowingly divulging your personal information is possible when you fall victim to this sophisticated phishing scam. Antivirus and antimalware software should be updated and scanned on a regular basis to prevent this from happening.
Once the malware is removed, use the methods above to clear your DNS cache.
As a general rule, you don’t need to worry about your DNS servers in most cases They work in the background to ensure that your web experience is trouble-free so that you can get from point A to point B. As a result, it’s worth considering an alternative DNS provider to your default ISP settings, which can improve internet speeds, privacy, and more.
It is possible that DNS malware or a problem with your internet connection is to blame for any problems with your DNS settings. You may want to check your computer for malware, and if that doesn’t help, you may want to switch to a different DNS provider.