What is a DNS Error and what causes it?

Ethan Payne
Ethan Payne | Writer
Last updated: August 25, 2021
DNS errors and how to fix them

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What is a DNS error? As this is a common question, we thought to get to the bottom of this issue. Simply put, a DNS error occurs when a part of the network does not properly connect to another part of the network. For instance, when a web page name cannot be resolved, it turns up an error page instead of the desired site.

Throughout this article, we will explain some of the most common DNS errors and give you the means to fix the issue yourself, saving you hours of frustration.

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What are DNS servers?

Before we delve deeper into the world of DNS failures, we should explain what a DNS server is and why it is necessary to your online survival.

DNS servers are an integral part of the internet infrastructure. Their job is to convert domain names into IP addresses so that other machines can read them.

Unfortunately, many people fail to realize the importance of DNS maintenance. Much of the necessary upkeep goes unnoticed until some DNS errors start to arise. Many of these problems can cause interference with the way the network operates and, in the long-term, can affect productivity and even cause significant security issues that can damage both companies and individuals.

There are two types of DNS: internal DNS used in companies and public DNS used for regular internet connections. Each has its various problems.

What is a DNS leak?

When talking about DNS servers, it’s essential to address what part they play in digital privacy. Maintaining privacy is one of the main reasons for using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). However, a VPN is no good if it’s prone to DNS leaks.

So what is a DNS leak? Essentially, a DNS leak is a security flaw that exposes your DNS requests and makes them visible to your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and other unwanted snoopers. These onlookers could be storing that information indefinitely for later use.

Luckily, there are a few reliable ways to ensure that your DNS requests remain private and secure:

  • Use a reliable VPN
  • Use Cloudflare DNS servers
  • Use anonymous browsers
  • Disable DNS with a firewall

Of course, our top recommendation is to use a tried and trusted VPN. Not only will it prevent DNS leaks, but it will also secure your entire internet traffic with AES-256 encryption. Additionally, a VPN brings other benefits to the table, such as unblocking geographical restrictions and keeping your data private.

Furthermore, having a reliable VPN means that you don’t have to worry about DNS issues since the provider will deal with those problems for you.

Best providers to prevent VPN DNS issues

Naturally, not every VPN provider has the technical backbone to prevent DNS issues reliably. Furthermore, you want to use a service that’s based in a privacy respecting jurisdiction and away from nosy government institutions, such as the Five Eyes alliance. Then you can be confident that the VPN provider is not storing your DNS queries and profiling you or selling your data to the highest bidder.

NordVPN

Our first contender for technical security and top-notch privacy is NordVPN. It’s based in Panama and has been independently audited to verify its claims about confidentiality. Furthermore, their standard servers are RAM-only, guaranteeing security on a fundamental level.

NordVPN has a vast server network with over 5100 servers across 60 countries worldwide. Additionally, it uses the proprietary NordLynx tunneling protocol, which is ridiculously fast and based on WireGuard. It’s arguable that NordVPN has improved on the formula so much that Nordlynx is significantly faster than its predecessor.

With a single NordVPN subscription, you can secure up to six different devices simultaneously. However, you can improve that number by setting up a router with a VPN, securing every connected device with AES-256 encryption. Plus, the CyberSec feature will protect you from ads and other malicious online threats.

You can start your journey to a safer internet by getting a NordVPN free trial on the Google Play Store. Once claimed, it will last seven days and can be used on any other device as well. After that, subscriptions start at $3.30/month and have a safety net in the form of a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of NordVPN, read our NordVPN review.

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Surfshark

Our second VPN suggestion is Surfshark, and it hails from the privacy-respecting British Virgin Islands. Moreover, it has been independently audited multiple times by well-known cybersecurity companies. However, its no-logging claims are yet to be verified.

Surfshark is equipped with 3200+ servers in over 65 countries. Additionally, the entire server fleet utilizes RAM-only technology, ensuring that no data is stored on hard drives. Furthermore, performance is excellent with the modern and open-source WireGuard tunneling protocol.

One of the most appealing features of Surfshark is that it allows an unlimited number of connections. That way, you can conveniently protect your entire household and even share the benefits of security with your friends and family. Additionally, this VPN service is packed with excellent security features, such as CleanWeb, NoBorders mode, and MultiHop.

You can get a taste of this provider by grabbing a Surfshark free trial on either the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. You can use the VPN however you please for seven days. Once those are over, you can subscribe for as little as $2.49/month. Plus, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee if you’re still unsure.

For a deeper investigation of Surfshark VPN, read our Surfshark VPN review.

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VyprVPN

Last but certainly not least is VyprVPN. This VPN provider is located in Switzerland and has also been audited independently by third parties. Additionally, it’s one of the most affordable and secure VPN options available.

First off, VyprVPN owns 700+ servers in 70+ countries around the world. The team retains complete control over the server infrastructure, guaranteeing that no third parties get the chance to intrude in any way. Additionally, the VPN ensures stellar performance with the WireGuard tunneling protocol. And for added security, you can take advantage of their proprietary Chameleon tunneling protocol.

One VyprVPN subscription allows you to connect up to five different devices simultaneously. Luckily, you can increase this number further by installing the VPN on a router. Plus, this VPN is one of the few providers with a dedicated router app, making the setup process a breeze.

With subscriptions starting at $1.67/month, you don’t want to skip out on this provider. Moreover, each plan is secured with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

For a deeper investigation of VyprVPN, read our VyprVPN review.

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A wide range of DNS issues

DNS issues come in many shapes and forms. Additionally, they can plague a wide range of different devices. Therefore, we will cover the following problems and how to solve them:

Nintendo Switch DNS error

You may have been hit with a Nintendo Switch DNS error while using a DNS server at home to play games. This usually surfaces as the 2110-3127 error code. Users have often spent weeks enjoying uninterrupted connections to the router with no issues when this suddenly pops up.

Never fear, though, for there are a few quick fixes that you can try. One of them should solve the DNS error.

  1. Restart your device
  2. Disconnect your router for up to a minute and plug it in again
  3. Set your DNS servers to Google’s servers (8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4)
  4. Manually assign an IP Address to your Nintendo Switch
  5. Change your network security settings by switching between the WPA2-PSK and WPA-PSK network security protocols

If none of these solutions work, you may have to contact Nintendo customer support.

Sony PlayStation DNS errors

Continuing the gaming theme, you may encounter DNS server errors on other consoles, such as the PS3 through PS5. And while there are some manual fixes that you can try, a console-compatible gaming VPN will also do the trick.

How to fix DNS issues on PS3

When that happens with a PS3, you’ll be graced with the 80710102 error code. Once it pops up, it means that there has been an issue with the IP address stopping your PS3 from connecting to the router. Several PS3 errors can occur, but the 80710102 is the most common of these.

To get everything up and running again, here are a few steps you need to take:

  1. Open a browser and type in the IP address of the router
  2. Log in with your router admin credentials
  3. Disable UPnP settings and save
  4. Close the browser and restart the PlayStation

At this point, you can close the browser and restart the PlayStation with everything – hopefully – working normally.

How to fix DNS issues on PS4

PS4 DNS server errors are also a regular occurrence. Again, there are many different errors, but with the PS4, the most common is denoted by the error code NW-31247-7. As with the PS3, the PS4 can be working fine for months and then suddenly come up with a DNS error.

Usually, this error comes with the accompanying message that the DNS server cannot be used. This error is often caused by a network problem such as a poorly configured server or outright server failure.

To fix this, you can try a couple of things:

  1. Restart your router
  2. Manually assign a DNS address by going to the PS4 settings

How to fix DNS issues on PS5

Sadly, fresh consoles are still plagued by old problems, and the PlayStation 5 is no exception. In this case, you’ll be notified by the NW-102308-4 error if you’re experiencing DNS issues. Luckily, there are plenty of fixes that you can try to resolve this nuisance:

  1. Check the status of the PSN to see if there’s any scheduled maintenance or downtime
  2. Restart your console and connect with an ethernet cable if possible
  3. Restart your router and modem
  4. Open the network settings and set up a static IP manually
  5. Set the DNS address to another that’s free and publicly accessible

Poorly configured DNS records

Many DNS issues come from improperly configured DNS records that occur when you don’t put in the right values or the correct IP addresses during the recording process. This means that there is a greater chance of receiving DNS issues.

For instance, MX, DKIM, and SPF records, essential for delivering emails, will fail when the DNS records aren’t configured correctly.

If you are looking for the answer to fixing a DNS error, it involves initially narrowing it down to find the real issue. For example, in the case of poor email delivery, checking out the aforementioned records would be an excellent place to start. Once you have located the problem, it is a few relatively simple steps to reconfigure the DNS records correctly and get everything back to working efficiently as before. Of course, the necessary steps will depend on the system and context in which you are working.

Network Down

The most commonly seen DNS error is the Network Down error. As we have mentioned before, it can occur on many different devices, from computers to smart TVs and game consoles. On mobile devices, you can avoid this issue by using a DNS resolver, such as Trust DNS by Surfshark.

The Network Down error can arise from various issues, making it difficult to pinpoint what has caused the problem.

In many cases, the cause of the error can just be one single server failing to relay the correct information to the next server. It can even be as simple as one setting being wrong, or even that a cord was not connected correctly when someone added a new server.

As all of these issues can result in a DNS error, solving it can be time-consuming. The process of elimination to solve this error involves ensuring solid connections. Thankfully, there are several different ways that you can search out and solve the problem.

  1. Run Network Diagnostics
  2. Go to the Control Panel, open the Networks and Sharing tab, and click on Troubleshoot problems. If you find any issues, fix them and restart the router.

TTL values are too high

TTL, or Time to Live, are values that exist in your DNS records. If these get too high, they can cause high waiting times during propagation. This can cause some severe downtimes when there is traffic going from server to server. Essentially, this means that everything slows down, and in some bad cases, stops altogether.

To combat this, it is crucial to change the TTL to lower values. However, even this has its issues as the lower values can cause a high query load, which is generally not a problem if the server can handle this increased load.

You should also note that, in some cases, ISPs totally ignore TTL settings and simply perform an override of their own to rectify the issue. This isn’t surprising as internet service providers are notorious for a lot of bad practices, for example, throttling your data.

DDoS attacks

DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service attacks, are malicious attacks that disrupt regular traffic or specific servers. They do this by forcing an overwhelming amount of traffic into the server or the infrastructure in the immediate area. The aim here is to send so much traffic that the server or site eventually crashes.

These attacks can be successful when they manage to utilize multiple computers at the same time. However, it is crucial to note that such attacks can only happen if someone directs them, i.e., a hacker orchestrating the event. DDoS attacks can happen in many different ways and can be made up of many different layers, which means that they can be hard to prevent if you don’t know what the telltale signs are.

There are ways to prevent DDoS attacks from occurring, and this is through the use of a DDoS mitigation device or even a secure VPN.

Unfortunately, these types of attacks are constantly evolving, which means that the methods used to combat them must also improve, providing a multi-layered solution to the security issues that arise. They also need to have reporting tools and analysis tools to prevent such attacks in the future.

Hardware or network fails

In some cases, a DNS server failure is nothing more than a hardware issue. These failures can still occur in several different places, though usually, they happen on the user machine.

If this is the case, then some of the previously mentioned solutions will help you, and you can troubleshoot through your network to solve the issue. However, this isn’t always the case, as sometimes the network failure is out of your control.

This means it is not at your end of the network, making the issue unsolvable by yourself. Unless the specific machine is in the immediate work environment, you won’t sort out the problem. Different operating systems will have other methods to fix the issue, so no one method covers all.

The primary way to solve these issues is through troubleshooting the specific configuration settings within the network or the hardware itself. This is the way you need to proceed to identify the root cause of the issue.

We suggest starting with the configuration settings, as this is the issue the vast majority of the time. You can check for errors by using the ping command on many computers. It will help you to see whether there is even any connection to the network at all.

Pinging in this fashion will enable you to see if you can connect to other routers or even computers, thus revealing the problem. If you attempt to sort out the configuration settings, you need to go to the troubleshooting section. If an issue pops up, your computer will prompt to repair, returning everything to normal.

DNS latency

If you are suffering from high DNS latency, you will notice that there are high loading times. This means that you will see that things are taking longer to open. High DNS latency is often a result of the DNS name servers not being geographically close to most users accessing a particular website.

Of course, another reason could also be that there is severe network congestion from a large amount of traffic trying to access the site simultaneously. The solution to this issue will depend on where the problem is.

However, the simplest solution is to change the location of the DNS servers to servers that are closer to the majority of the visitors. If this fails, you’ll need to check out configurations made before the high latency period.

DLL issues

If all the basics have been checked out within your network and computer, yet you are still suffering from DNS issues, there may be another problem to root out. This could be what is known as a DLL issue. A DLL, also known as a Dynamic Link Library, connects the various elements within a program.

This creates a module setup that enables the computer and the network to operate much more smoothly while also saving space. When you start seeing issues, it is because there are now problems with the system.

Sometimes they stem from an update, and sometimes something has overwritten a vital connection that ensures the DLL keeps running. These types of problems can make the entire system stop running. When these errors occur on a website, visitors can see the error as well.

DLL files can be hard to troubleshoot when finding the cause as there are many different types around.

Fixing these errors can be time-consuming, depending on the type of problem. Here are some solutions that are worth considering:

  1. Restart the computer
  2. Restore DLL files from the recycle bin
  3. Use a DLL recovery program to retrieve missing DLL files
  4. Reinstall the program that’s running into issues
  5. If all else fails, restore the system to a backup state

Malware issues

The final and possibly the most critical area that can cause an issue with your DNS server is malware. Malware is software that is created to disrupt and destroy information, computers, and computer networks. If you get a DNS error, specifically if you visit websites that you come back to often, this could be because there is some malware lodged into your computer system. Some of the more recent malware is embedded in Javascript, meaning that you can pick it up simply by clicking on a link.

Clicking on these links can cause the malware to download straight to your computer, where it will start disrupting your system. There are several ways to get rid of malware, as long as you know it is there, of course!

  1. Run anti-malware programs
  2. Use a VPN that can block malicious online domains, for example, NordVPN
  3. Don’t immediately click on links that get sent your way

Conclusion

We hope this article has helped you understand and fix DNS issues. As a takeaway message, the main point here is that when there is a DNS issue, you always need to figure out whether the DNS server is returning the same response even when used from varying locations. In addition, it is vital to ensure that the domain name is active and that there is a stable ISP in place at all times.

However, suppose the issues are occurring within a company’s infrastructure. In that case, we highly recommend calling in a specialist who will solve any current and future problems efficiently, rather than fixing the issues yourself, preventing any potentially disastrous outcomes, such as hackers breaching security.

Meanwhile, solving DNS issues at home might be more complicated, especially if you’re not a networking specialist. In that case, it’s advisable to simply use a commercial VPN service. That way, the software will take care of any VPN DNS issues automatically. Plus, you can enjoy numerous other benefits with the help of a VPN, such as changing your location and securing your online data.


You may also like to read:
Should I leave my VPN on all the time?
How to stop DNS leaks
How to flush DNS cache
What is dynamic DNS


FAQ

How to check for DNS leaks?

You can look for DNS leaks on specialized websites that check your IP address and perform DNS tests. One such website is BrowserLeaks.

How to avoid DNS leaks?

You can avoid DNS leaks by enabling a VPN with solid DNS leak prevention measures and a reliable kill switch.

What is the best service to prevent VPN DNS issues?

The best VPN service against DNS issues is NordVPN. It is around for almost ten years, works reliably, has an extensive server network, has its own DNS servers, and has excellent technical and security credentials.

Will DNS affect VPN?

When using a VPN service, the VPN configures the DNS settings to fit the current situation. You will only need to change them manually on the rare occasion if a DNS error occurs.

Top VPN providers
NordVPN
9.6 / 10
30-day money-back guarantee
Military grade encryption
Friendly support
Surfshark VPN
9.4 / 10
Strong encryption
Excellent performance
Unlimited simultaneous connections

Disclaimer: Affiliate links help us produce good content. Learn more.

5 comments
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  1. Hyacinthe O

    That was helpful ! I know very little about DNS and more specific subjects concerning computers and IT in general, and this article is clear and simple to understand ! That’s great content !


  2. balloonboy11

    Usually whenever this happens to me at home, there’s something wrong with the internet service provider that I can’t control. The internet will cut out for a few minutes and nothing will help it no matter what actions I take. It’s good to know a little bit more about what causes it, so thanks for that.


  3. Riles J

    Oh that’s a great article there. Thanks for all the informations and solutions, I wasn’t sure of what it was exactly and what could cause it. Great content !!


  4. Mollie Pollard

    Now I know what a DNS error really means! I was unaware that there are a variety of elements that can influence things and lead to a DNS error. Thanks for explaining the different types and the possible solutions. Some blogs are quick to list problems, but they don’t give you any troubleshooting tips!


  5. Mikey

    This guide is going to save me so much time! I hadn’t understood what was causing these errors, but now I’ve got some answers.

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