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Domain Name System or DNS is the backbone of the internet. As it allows us to access websites without having to memorize random strings of numbers.
You see, every website resides at an IP address that looks like a series of numbers in the x.x.x.x format. So for example, the IP address of Hostingdata.co.uk is 18.104.22.168, for youtube its 22.214.171.124, and so on.
Of course, people aren’t that great at remembering strings of numbers, compared to actual words, and that’s how DNS was born.
What a DNS server does is it links an IP address to a domain (text like hostingdata.co.uk) so that you don’t have to memorize a bunch of numbers. It also makes it easier for us to search and find stuff online.
What is DNS Server Not Responding Error?
Now sometimes you might try and reach a website only to get the error ‘DNS Server Not Responding’. So easy fix right? Just change the DNS server and that’s it!
Unfortunately, it’s not exactly that simple, although that certainly is a solution to try. Before going that route though, we’ve compiled a list of troubleshooting steps you can take to fix the DNS Server Not Responding error.
While some of these do require a bit of technical know-how, they’re all relatively easy and the instructions have been laid out simply, so let’s dive on in.
#1 Try a Different Browser
Probably the first thing to do to diagnose your problem is to try a different top secure browser.
Make sure to visit the same site you were trying to visit on your main browser. If the DNS server persists, then the issue isn’t your main browser and you can move on to the next step.
On the other hand, if the DNS issue is gone, then you probably need to update your main browser. If that also fails to work, try uninstalling and reinstalling again, that should help. Another thing you might attempt is using a top free VPN if the issue isn’t with the browser.
#2 Restart Your Router
Another common troubleshooting step is restarting your router. As it can flush the router’s cache and possibly fix the issue.
First, try restarting the device from the provided browser software that is provided with your router.
Often this means typing 192.168.1.1 in the URL bar, which will take you to the admin panel of your router. That number is the default gateway address and might not always be correct. So make sure you follow any instructions by the router provider.
If that doesn’t work, then you’ll need to do a hard reboot by switching the router off completely. Keep in mind that just turning the power button on and off isn’t actually enough.
Instead, remove the router from the plug completely and wait 30 seconds before plugging it in. This ensures that everything is flushed out of the router’s memory and nothing is laying around.
Again, try connecting after you to the hard reboot, and if it’s still not working move on to the next step.
#3 Turn Off Your Firewall and Antivirus Briefly
Now before doing this step, we really need to stress that firewalls and antiviruses are important, so this is only meant to be a temporary measure used for troubleshooting. And remember even top free antiviruses can cause this issues.
Sometimes firewalls and antiviruses can cause problems or complications in the way they interact with other software and online connectivity.
To deactivate your antivirus on windows, just search for ‘Update & Security’, then go to windows security > Virus & Threat Protection > Manage Settings.
Keep in mind this might not work for all antiviruses, so make sure it is actually turned off.
Once it is, attempt to access the web page you were trying to access before. If it still doesn’t work, then your issue isn’t the antivirus. If it does work, then you might need to update your antivirus or even change it completely.
If this issue persists when the antivirus is off, try also switching off the firewall. Again, if the website works, then you might need to change your firewall and if it doesn’t work, then the issue isn’t the firewall either.
Either way, once you’ve done this troubleshooting step remember to turn your firewall and antivirus back on.
#4 Use Safe Mode
The next issue might be a problem with your OS, or maybe certain applications that are running in the background.
By using safe mode, the OS turns all but the essential things off.
To do this on Windows 10, open the start menu and hover over the power button.
Then shift+click on Restart. The computer will take you to a new window, where you will need to click on Troubleshoot then on Advanced.
Under Advanced Options choose Startup Settings and then Restart. At that point, you need to press the corresponding number with the mode you want, in this case being ‘Enable Safe Mode with Networking’, which should be number 5.
Once the computer boots up, try accessing the webpage again and see what happens. If the issue persists, then there isn’t necessarily a problem with the OS or 3rd party software. If the issue is cleared, then there’s a 3rd-party app that is probably causing some issue.
If the latter is the case, you’ll have to individually stop each app from running, or uninstall things until the website starts working again.
#5 Disable Secondary Connections
One issue might arise from having too many networked connections into your machine, which might be causing some kind of traffic snarl-up like you would find in a cross-road with no light-signals.
As such, disabling everything except your primary connection might help solve this issue.
How to Disable Secondary Connections
First, right-click the Start menu and go to ‘Network Connections’.
In the new window that pops up, chose your primary connection time from the list on the left, for most cases that should be ethernet. Once you select ethernet, go to the right-most side of the page and click on ‘Change adapter settings’.
Right-click on a non-primary connection and chose ‘Disable’ from the drop-down menu. Do this for every secondary connection that isn’t your primary. Usually, the primary is the first one listed, but that may not always be the case, so just be aware of that.
If this step doesn’t fix your issue, then it’s not the secondary connection and you can move on to the next step. If it works, just keep the secondary connections switched off (or re-manage your network connections to your PC).
#6 Disable Window’s Peer-to-Peer Feature
Windows 10 has a unique and interesting feature that helps preserve some of your bandwidth.
It does so by downloading updates only once and then using your device to distribute the update to other devices on your network. Similarly, you can download any updates from people in your local network as well.
It’s essentially just p2p torrenting but for Windows updates. Unfortunately, this feature can sometimes cause issues with DNS, so disabling it might help fix the issue.
How to Disable Peer-to-Peer Feature
To disable it, go to the windows icon and open the start bar, then click on the cogwheel that signifies settings.
In the new window, select ‘Update & Security’ which will take you to yet another window, where you’ll need to select ‘Delivery Optimization’ on the sidebar to the left.
Once there, deselect the slider under ‘Allow downloads from other PCs’.
After you do that, reboot your system and see if the website work. If it’s still not working, then see the next step below.
#7 Update Drivers
Drivers are what make PCs . . . run, and that applies to everything from your mouse to the ethernet port on your motherboard. As such, outdated drivers can sometimes cause a ton of issues, like DNS errors. In this situation, we’ll need to update the network drivers to make sure there’s no issue there.
The first, and easiest, way to update network drivers is by using software to automatically do it for you. Snappy Driver Installer (SDI) and Driver Easy are two great tools that you can use to auto-update your drivers and they’re also both free, which is great. Make sure that you have a computer with a working internet connection before trying this.
After you’ve run either program and updated the drivers, restart the computer to see if that solved the issue.
The second way to go about this is by doing it manually, although there’s a lot more chance for human error and installing the wrong drivers or installing them in the wrong location.
To do so, find the network adapter manufacturer for your device (usually the company that made your motherboard), and go to their website.
Once there, find the network adapter driver, download it, and put it on a USB stick if you’re doing this on another PC. Transfer the driver to the PC you need updating and then open Device Manager by typing it in the search bar.
Once you’re in the Device Manager panel, find and expand the section called ‘Network Adapters’, right-click on your network adapter, and choose ‘Update Drivers’
A new window will pop up asking you how you want to install the drivers: Automatically on the internet or by browsing your computer. Since the internet doesn’t work, chose ‘browsing your PC option’. Point the application to where you’ve placed the driver and let everything run.
Finally, don’t forget to restart your PC to make sure that the update has taken effect.
#8 Clear DNS Cache and Reset IP
Sometimes the issue is with the DNS cache or even the IP itself, and clearing both can sort of reboot things and potentially clear issues. The reason this comes later in the list is that it requires typing in command and that could be a bit daunting for some, but if you’ve made it this far, you’ll be fine!
First, typing cmd in the search bar and click on ‘command prompt’ to open up the command console. Once inside, type each line of the following and press enter after each:
- Netsh int ip reset
- Netsh winsock reset
- Ipconfig /flushdns
- Ipconfig /renew
Don’t forget to press enter after each line, and do not enter them all together.
Once it completes the actions, restart your computer for things to take affect and see if this solved your issue.
#9 Disable IPv6
Without going into too many technicalities, IPv6 is an internet protocol (that’s what IP stands for).
And it is meant to address the issue of exhausting IPs.
Essentially, it’s like adding an extra few digits to telephone numbers to expand the number of assignable telephone numbers there are.
Unfortunately, IPv6 can sometimes cause DNS issues, so switching it off might help.
How to Disable IPv6
To do that, you’ll need to go to your ‘Network Connections’ panel, right-click on your connection and then click on ‘Properties’. When the new window pops-up, go to the ‘Networking’ tab and scroll down until you find something that says ‘Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6)’ and uncheck it.
Click ok and then reopen the browser to see if that resolved the issue.
#10 Change DNS Server
One last final way to try and solve this issue is to change the DNS server completely. Essentially, a DNS server is like a phone-book, and sometimes using a different phone-book altogether might fix DNS errors.
Thankfully, the process for this is relatively easy and follows pretty much all the same steps from the IPv6 attempted solution.
How to Change DNS Server
Go to your ‘Network Connections’ panel and right-click on your connection then select ‘Properties’.
In the ‘Networks’ tab, look for something that says ‘Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)’.
Highlight it, and then click on the ‘Properties’ button below it. A new window will pop up and in the ‘General tab’ go to the bottom section and select ‘Use the following DNS server address’.
For the preferred DNS server key in 126.96.36.199 and for the alternate DNS server key in 188.8.131.52 . Both of those are Google’s DNS servers, rather than the DNS servers of your ISP, and as such should work if all else fails.
While we know that DNS errors can be incredibly annoying and frustrating, these 10 simple troubleshooting steps should be more than enough to solve the issue. If not, well then it may be time to call your ISP directly or possibly take your computer into a PC repair shop to see if maybe they can help with the issue.