A Domain Name Service (DNS) is the website naming method to put logical-sounding names on top of IP addresses. Web browsers interact through Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. DNS translates domain names to IP addresses so browsers can load Internet resources. Think of DNS as a pretty mask, covering up an ugly jumble of complex numbers. It’s easier to remember a catchy DNS name like Google.com, Microsoft.com or Cloudcomputercompany.au than it is to try to memorize a challenging series of IPv4 numbers such as 10.9.75.129, or the newer and more complicated alpha-numeric IPv6 addresses such as this Wikipedia example: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334.
DNS spares every web browser user from having to keep a complex directory of website address numbers (can you imagine what this type of cumbersome IP lookup directory would be like?) and instead makes typing a website name into the browser URL (Uniform Resource Locator) bar an act of simplicity. But there are some common DNS issues to look out for.
What is a DNS error? Why am I getting a DNS error?
If something you’re typing into the browser URL bar is not being translated properly, you will likely see a “DNS error” message. This could be an internet-wide problem, but the best way to determine that would be to skip the text name of the site and manually type in the IP address instead. For example, if you’re trying to reach Apple.com, instead try typing 184.108.40.206. If the internet is intact, then you’ll reach the site. If the internet is down, you’ll error out.
You can also open a command prompt, a feature in most support tools, or manually start on a Windows machine by typing CMD into the search on the taskbar. From here you can then “ping” the site by typing ping 220.127.116.11 at the prompt that appears, and it will indicate whether or not the site is reachable.
- If it is reachable, something like trace route might help in determining any hang-ups. Type tracert 18.104.22.168 and see what the flows look like.
- If the site is not reachable, it might be that the site is simply down, so try another site to see if it is reachable. If you can’t get anywhere, it could be the fault of your ISP (Internet Service Provider), so it’s a good idea to check with your provider. In my case here in Boston, I’d contact my ISP, XFINITY, and see if there are any known problems, if there are, they might even be able to tell you what specific sites are impacted.
DNS failure? Try these DNS troubleshooting basics.
If it’s not the site, and not the ISP, you’ll want to walk through some fundamental steps:
Clear the cache
From the command prompt, you can type ipconfig/flushdns and this will make sure nothing stored in the DNS cache is causing problems, and the next time you try the website, it will be forced to download new DNS information.
Reboot your computer
Tried and true, it rules out any stuck processes and flows. Useful after the step above, to make sure a DNS Flush completes the necessary refresh.
Check your hardware and wires
Is everything on? Are any cables loose?
Run a wizard
On a PC you can type in “settings” in the search box, find settings-troubleshoot, and run some automated checks that self-correct or indicate where the problem might reside.
Run an antivirus scan
Rule out any malware-causing problems.
Check DHCP (Dynamic Host Control Protocol)
The DHCP obtains IP info. This should be enabled on both your device and on your router. It’s typically found under your Local Area Connections and the IP properties. Having DNS server addresses and IP addresses obtained automatically is recommended.
Reach out to the experts
The next time a DNS error suddenly appears on your screen, you can contact The Cloud Computer Company which use tools for remote management and support.
Of course, if DNS errors are completely preventing you from reaching the internet, you’ll need to rely on your own manual walkthrough of the recommended steps listed above. We wish you the best of luck with your future DNS ventures!