DNS, in general, has always been an intimidating topic for me. But the more you practice and work with it, the easier it gets! The following list of tools helps make my life easier when changing records, troubleshooting errors, etc.
Going to What’sMyDNS.com is super useful if you want to check the status of DNS records during a move. If you’re pointing your domain to a different hosting service, for example, or routing your domain’s email through Gmail, you’ll have to edit nameservers or MX records, respectively. Whenever you make changes to DNS records, a good rule of thumb is that it takes up to 24-48 hours for those changes to stick. So staying on top of where everything is pointed can be really helpful in understanding a website error or DNS delay.
Simply search the domain in question and use the menu drop-down to change the record that you’re interested in:
Log into terminal and type:
The first section tells you what version of DiG you’re using, and what information is being collected from the DNS server.
The second section states what you asked for (an A record query), and the third section provides the answer (the IP address).
The fourth section gives general stats on how long it took to process the query (this varies depending on time to live), the IP of where you made the query, and how large the query was.
This command can be helpful for multiple cases as I’m sure you can imagine, but the two most common reasons I use the dig command are:
– to check on the status of a DNS change. If a user is pointing a third party domain at Reclaim Hosting, I can easily check to see if the domain is resolving at a Reclaim server vs. GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc.
– I also use this command often when troubleshooting support tickets. We get requests all the time from schools with multiple servers that have an issue with a single account or domain, and the requester will generally only ever provide an account name or domain, but rarely provide the server name/IP. So I use a variant of this command to quickly find out which server the domain is on so I can navigate to the account more quickly.
P.S. If you want to take it a step further and find out the name of the server, not just the IP, type the following in terminal:
dig -x 22.214.171.124
It does the same thing, except it spits out the name of the server. Very cool!
Mac Network Utility
The Network Utility feature on the Mac computer will do this very quickly as well. The quickest way to get there is by doing a spotlight search for ‘Network’:
From there go to the lookup tab. You can search either the IP address or domain name– it does DNS lookups, but also reverse DNS lookups!
WhoIs will give you information about what nameservers the domain is pointed to, along with Registrant contact information (or lack of due to Domain Privacy Protect) and domain expiration date. Couple ways to get there:
Terminal– Type the following on your command line:
Network Utility– go to the WhoIs tab and type your domain.
Whois.com– search the domain in the top, right-hand corner. (This is also a great option if you’re wanting to check whether or not a domain is available for registration!
All interfaces will share the same information:
Lastly, sometimes it’s nice to just get your basic DNS bill of health. Though it only works for Top Level Domains, intoDNS.com can be useful to check for any red flags. Simply type the domain in question and click report.
So there you have it! These are my go-to DNS tools. Is there anything I’ve missed or should be using? Share in a comment below!