Website DNS Troubleshooting: A Step-by-Step Guide

Website DNS Troubleshooting: A Step-by-Step Guide

Jan 23, 2024
by jessicadunbar
in DevOps

Experiencing issues while trying to access websites can be frustrating. Often, these issues are related to DNS (Domain Name System) problems. DNS is responsible for translating domain names into IP addresses. Troubleshooting DNS issues requires a systematic approach to identify and resolve the root cause.

Understanding DNS Issues

DNS issues typically manifest as an inability to reach a website, slow website loading, or intermittent website accessibility. These problems might be due to DNS misconfiguration, server downtime, or network connectivity issues.

Steps for DNS Troubleshooting

1. Verify the Website's Accessibility

  • Check Other Websites: Ensure the problem isn't with your internet connection by accessing different websites.
  • Use Online Tools: Tools like “Down for Everyone or Just Me” can determine if the website is down globally.

2. Inspect Local DNS Settings

  • Check DNS Configuration: Make sure your computer or router is configured with the correct DNS server addresses.
  • Try Different DNS Servers: Switch to public DNS servers like Google DNS ( or OpenDNS ( to see if there’s an improvement.

3. Flush DNS Cache

  • Windows: Open Command Prompt and type ipconfig /flushdns.
  • macOS: Open Terminal and type sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder.
  • Linux: Use commands like sudo systemd-resolve --flush-caches or sudo /etc/init.d/nscd restart.

4. Use Diagnostic Commands

  • Ping: Check connectivity to the website’s server.
  • Traceroute: Identify where the connection is failing.
  • Nslookup or Dig: Use these tools to query DNS servers and check domain resolution.

5. Check the Hosts File

  • Windows Users: On Windows, it's usually in C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts. Open Notepad as an administrator (right-click on Notepad and select "Run as administrator"), then open the hosts file from within Notepad. This step is crucial because you need admin rights to edit this file.

  • Mac/Linux Users: If you're using a Mac or Linux, you'll typically find it at /etc/hosts. Open Terminal and type sudo nano /etc/hosts. This command opens the hosts file in nano editor, which is simple to use. You'll be asked for your password because, just like on Windows, you need superuser permissions to make changes.

6. Analyze DNS Records

  • Use online tools to analyze the DNS records of the website. Ensure records like A, AAAA, and CNAME are correctly configured. 

7. Contact ISP or Hosting Provider

  • If the issue persists, contact your ISP or the website’s hosting provider for further assistance.

Advanced DNS Troubleshooting

  • DNSSEC Validation: Check if DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) issues are causing the problem.
  • Check TTL Values: Investigate Time to Live (TTL) values in DNS records for caching issues.
  • Monitor for DNS Propagation: After DNS changes, monitor for propagation using online tools.


DNS troubleshooting can be complex, but following these steps can help identify and resolve most issues. Regular monitoring and maintenance of DNS settings, along with an understanding of fundamental DNS operations, can significantly reduce the occurrence of these problems. Remember, effective DNS management is crucial for ensuring consistent website accessibility and performance.


  1. PhoenixNAP. (No date). Troubleshooting DNS Issues: nslookup, dig, host & More. Retrieved from

  2. Microsoft. (2022, October 31). Troubleshooting DNS Servers. Retrieved from

  3. HP Tech Takes. (No date). How to Resolve DNS Issues. Retrieved from

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