DNS Lookup Simply Explained


If it comes to domains and websites everything related to DNS usually is a bit confusing. Just like DNS lookups. You might know that you need hosting and a domain name for your website. But what is DNS lookup and how does it work?

There is pretty much no day at work where I am not explaining DNS and DNS lookups to at least one customer. Therefore I have explained it thousands of times. I found that the main reason for all the confusion going on is that available explanations are usually too technical and require having already knowledge in the field - which not everybody has.

To change this first lets have a look at how the Domain Name System (short: DNS) works:

A brief overview on how DNS works

In short, DNS is the address book of the internet. It's like the phone book for websites. When you type in a URL like www.example.com, your computer needs to figure out what IP address that corresponds to. To do this, it asks a DNS server.

A DNS server is just a computer that's been assigned the task of knowing the IP addresses for a bunch of domain names. When you type in a URL like www.example.com, your computer will ask a DNS server for the IP address associated with that domain name. The DNS server will look up the IP address and then send it back to your computer.

Now that your computer has the IP address, it can connect to the website and load the page.

This may all sound a bit complicated, but DNS is actually quite simple. In this article we'll take a closer look at how DNS and in particular DNS record retrieval works and what you need to know about it.

What is DNS lookup and what does it do?

DNS, or Domain Name System, is a method used to translate human-readable domain names (like example.com) into IP addresses (like 192.168.1.1). DNS lookups are usually performed by your computer's operating system in order to connect to websites and other internet-based services.

When you type a URL into your web browser, your computer will first perform a DNS lookup to resolve the domain name into an IP address. This IP address is then used to establish a connection with the server that hosts the website you're trying to access.

DNS lookups can also be used to resolve email addresses. For example, when you send an email to someone at example.com, your computer will use DNS to find the MX (mail exchange) record for that domain. The MX record contains the IP address of the server that handles email for that domain.

DNS lookups are usually handled by your ISP's DNS server. However, you can also use public DNS servers, such as Google Public DNS or Cloudflare DNS.

What is a DNS error?

A DNS error occurs when your computer is unable to connect to a website or other internet-based service due to a problem with the DNS server. DNS errors can be caused by a variety of issues, including incorrectly configured DNS servers, temporary outages with DNS servers, or firewall restrictions.

How can I fix a DNS error?

There are a few different ways you can try to fix a DNS error:

- Check the status of the DNS server you're using. If the. You can try using a different DNS server, such as Google Public DNS or Cloudflare DNS.

– Lösche deinen DNS-Cache. Dein Computer speichert einen Cache mit DNS-Einträgen, die manchmal Probleme verursachen können, wenn sie veraltet oder beschädigt sind. Du kannst deinen DNS-Cache löschen, indem du die Anweisungen für dein Betriebssystem befolgst: Windows, Mac, Linux.

- Clear your DNS cache. Your computer stores a cache of DNS records, which can sometimes cause problems if they become outdated or corrupted. You can clear your DNS cache by following the instructions for your operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux.

- Change your DNS settings. If you're using a custom DNS server, such as one provided by your ISP, you can try changing your DNS settings to use a different server.

DNS lookups can sometimes take a while, especially if the DNS server is slow or unresponsive

You may encounter situations where either your manual lookup or the lookup performed by your browser or operating system fails. In these cases, you may need to wait a while for the DNS server to respond or try another server.

If you're still having trouble, you can try using a tool like namebench to test different DNS servers and find the fastest one for your needs.

How can you use DNS lookup to troubleshoot problems with your website or internet connection?

As explained before DNS lookups are mandatory for the internet to work properly. If they are not things often result in frustrating error messages on your screen.

With a manual DNS lookup, you can troubleshoot where the issue is coming from. If any lookup fails entirely it is likely an issue with your local computer or internet connection. If some lookups succeed but for a specific site you get an error or no result it is likely an issue with the DNS server or hosting provider for the website in question.

In short, if something isn't working right on the internet a manual DNS lookup can help you determine where the problem is coming from.

What are some of the most common DNS errors and how can you fix them yourself?

There are a few different things that can cause DNS errors:

- Incorrectly configured DNS servers: If you're using a custom DNS server, such as Google Public DNS or Cloudflare DNS, make sure you've entered the correct IP addresses.

– Die DNS-Einträge sind nicht richtig eingerichtet: Wenn du eine Website oder einen E-Mail-Server einrichtest, stelle sicher, dass die DNS-Einträge auf die richtige IP-Adresse zeigen. In diesem Artikel findest du die häufigsten Fehler bei DNS-Einträgen (und wie du sie vermeiden/beheben kannst).

- Temporary outages with DNS servers: If a DNS server is down or not responding, you may not be able to connect to websites or other internet-based services. Try using a different DNS server or wait for the original server to come back online.

- Firewall restrictions: If your computer is behind a firewall, make sure that it's configured to allow DNS queries.

- Corrupted DNS cache: If your computer's DNS cache becomes corrupted, you may not be able to connect to websites or other internet-based services. You can clear your DNS cache by following the instructions for your operating system: Windows, Mac, Linux.

- Slow or unresponsive DNS servers: If a DNS server is slow or unresponsive, you may experience delays when trying to connect to websites or other internet-based services. You can try using a different DNS server or wait for the original server to speed up.

- Namebench: If you're still having trouble, you can try using a tool like namebench to test different DNS servers and find the fastest one for your needs.

If you want more tools for DNS lookups you can read this article.

How do you change your DNS server settings on different devices and operating systems?

Every end-user device has some own DNS server settings. You can find DNS server settings for the most popular devices and operating systems below. If you don't see your device or operating system listed, check its documentation for instructions on how to change DNS server settings.

- Windows: To change DNS server settings in Windows, go to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network Connections and select the network connection you want to modify. Then, open the Properties dialog and select "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)" from the list of items. Finally, click the "Properties" button and enter the IP addresses of the DNS servers you want to use in the "Preferred DNS server" and "Alternate DNS server" fields.

- Mac: To change DNS server settings in Mac OS X, go to System Preferences > Network and select the network connection you want to modify. Then, open the "Advanced" panel and select the "DNS" tab. Finally, enter the IP addresses of the DNS servers you want to use in the "DNS Servers" field.

- Linux: To change DNS server settings in Linux, go to the "Network Connections" configuration tool and select the network connection you want to modify. Then, open the "IPv4 Settings" tab and enter the IP addresses of the DNS servers you want to use in the "DNS Servers" field.

- Android: To change DNS server settings in Android, go to Settings > Wireless & networks > Wi-Fi and long-press on the network you want to modify. Then, select "Modify network" from the menu that appears and check the "Advanced options" box. Finally, enter the IP addresses of the DNS servers you want to use in the "DNS 1" and "DNS 2" fields.

- iOS: To change DNS server settings in iOS, go to Settings > Wi-Fi and tap on the network you want to modify. Then, tap the "Forget this Network" button and reconnect to the network. When prompted, enter the IP addresses of the DNS servers you want to use in the "DNS" field.

Blog Introduction
Blog Introduction

List of DNS servers you can set on your devices

Now that you know that you can change your DNS server on your devices you might be wondering what DNS servers will do a good job. And you might be asking yourself questions ike "Is 1.1 1.1 still the best DNS?". No worries. I got you. Below you'll find a list of DNS servers that you can use.

– Cloudflare: 1.1.1.1, 1.0.0.1

– Google: 8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4

– Quad9: 9.9.9.9 , 149.112.112.112

– OpenDNS: 208.67.222.222, 208.67.220.220

– Level 3: 4.2.2.1, 4.2.2.2, 4.2.2.3, 4.2.2.4, 209.244.0.3

– Comodo: 8.26.56.27, 8.20.247.20

– DNS Watch: 84.200.69.80, 84.200.70.40

– Verisign: 64.6.64.6, 64.6.65.6

– OpenNIC: 216.87.84.211, 23.94.60.240, 156.154.70.1, 198.41.222.173

These are some of the best DNS servers that you can use but feel free to experiment and see which one works best for you and your needs!

You see: While it can't be said that 1.1.1.1 is the best DNS server you can use on your devices it still is one of the best.

Are there any other ways to improve your website's performance or security that you should know about?

So, in case you have your own website you want to make sure that DNS resolution is as fast and good as possible for your visitors. And you can do this in a couple of ways:

  • Use a content delivery network (CDN): A CDN is a system of distributed servers that deliver pages and other Web content to a user, based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and the content delivery server.

The most established and well-known CDNs include Cloudflare, Akamai, and Fastly.

  • Use a DNS resolver: A DNS resolver is a server that resolves DNS queries for your website. By using a DNS resolver, you can improve the performance of your website by caching DNS records and reducing the number of DNS queries that need to be made.

Some of the most popular DNS resolvers are BIND, PowerDNS and Unbound.

Sounds complicated? Surprise: It is super easy as this is usually completely handled by your provider.

  • Use a web application firewall (WAF): A WAF is a firewall that sits in front of your website and filters incoming traffic based on a set of rules. By using a WAF, you can block malicious traffic before it reaches your website.

Among the most popular WAFs are Cloudflare and Sucuri.

Again: This is mostly handled by your provider so you don't need to worry about it.

  • Use a secure socket layer (SSL): SSL is a protocol that encrypts traffic between a web server and a web browser. By using SSL, you can ensure that your website's traffic is not being intercepted or tampered with by third parties.

To get started with SSL, you can generate a free SSL certificate from Let's Encrypt.

Having an SSL certificate is industry standard for years and therefore an absolute must.

  • Use a security header: A security header is a HTTP response header that can be used to improve the security of your website. By using a security header, you can instruct your web browser to behave in a certain way when it loads your website.

Some of the most popular security headers are Content-Security-Policy, X-Content-Type-Options and Strict-Transport-Security.

When you are using common CMS like Wordpress and similar this is being handled for you usually.

But please make sure to check as this is easily forgotten.

Where can I go for more information about DNS lookup and related topics ?

If you want to learn more about DNS lookup and related topics, we recommend checking out the following resources:

Wie man den DNS-Dienst 1.1.1.1 von Cloudflare nutzt

Was ist eine DNS-Zone? – Einfach erklärt

Everything You Need to Know About DNS Records - A Guide for Beginners

Gängige Fehler beim Erstellen von DNS-Einträgen

These are just a few examples, but feel free to do your own research!

There you have it. That should be all you need to know about DNS lookup and improving your website's performance. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to leave a comment below!

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