DNS Server Not Responding Error: Complete Troubleshooting Guide

6 min. read
The DNS Server Not Responding error can be frustrating. You may see this error message on your website and are anxious about losing potential customers.

The bad news is that a wide range of things can cause DNS errors. The good news is that most of these errors can be fixed. In fact, in some cases, fixing the DNS error is as easy as starting your PC in safe mode or changing the browser. 


This article will explain what a DNS Server Not Responding error means and walk you step by step through 10 solutions for fixing it, regardless of whether you're using Windows or macOS.


What Is DNS?

The Domain Name System Server, or DNS server, is what turns web addresses like “google.com” into numbers that computers can understand. In short, it's what makes the entire internet work. Think of it as a translation guide for the web.


Most users on the web access web pages by simply typing in the address of the site, like amazon.com or facebook.com. But your browser needs to know the IP address of the site you're trying to access. So it sends a request to the DNS server, which acts as the internet's version of Yellow Pages, that matches a site's URL to an IP address.


Thanks to DNS servers, the internet is incredibly easy to use, especially for people who lack advanced tech capabilities. Instead of typing in numerical IP addresses every time we want to surf the web, we can only type in the name of the site we want to visit, and the DNS will do the rest for us.


10 Strategies for Fixing the “DNS Server Not Responding” Error

Now that you learned what DNS is and why it is important in the online world, it's time to start fixing the issue. Here are ten strategies for fixing the DNS Server Not Responding error on your computer. 

Solution #1: Restart Your Router

The first and probably one of the easiest troubleshooting strategies on the list is to simply restart your router. 


By restarting your router, you're actually flushing the router's cache. Doing so can fix the DNS Server Not Responding error. 


Find the power button on your router to turn it off. Wait a minute or two before turning it back on. Once the router reestablishes a connection, check whether you can access the internet using your browser. In some cases, turning the router off won't be enough. You'll need to unplug it entirely and wait a minute or so before plugging it back in.


Solution #2: Switch to Another Browser

In some cases, fixing the problem can be as easy as switching to another browser. 


Let's say that you're using Google Chrome. Try accessing your website from a different browser, like Safari or Mozilla Firefox. 


If doing so fixes the issue, you'll need to update your default browser to its latest version. Another solution is to uninstall and reinstall it on your device. But if the issue still persists, that means that your browser is not what's causing the problem, and you can jump to solution #3. 


Solution #3: Start Your PC in Safe Mode

The next tip on the list is to start your PC in safe mode. Using your PC in safe mode limits the files and resources used for running the OS, which can effectively troubleshoot the error.


Follow these instructions if you're using an Intel-based Mac:


  • Go to the Apple menu and click Shut Down.

  • Wait 10 seconds for your Mac to shut down.

  • Restart your Mac, then immediately press and hold the Shift key.

  • As soon as you see the login window, release the Shift key.

Follow these instructions if you're using a Mac with Apple silicon:


  • Go to your Apple menu and click Shut Down.

  • Wait 10 seconds for your Mac to shut down.

  • Press and hold the power button on your Mac until the startup options window appears showing available startup disks and Options.

  • Select a startup disk.

  • Press and hold the Shift key, click Continue in Safe Mode, then release the Shift key.


The process is similar if you're using Windows 10: 


  • Go to the Windows button and hover over the Power icon. 

  • Hold down the Shift key and click Restart, which will open a Window.

  • Click on Troubleshoot > Advanced. Under Advanced options, choose Start-Up Settings, and then Restart. 

  • More options will appear on the screen. You can pick 4 or 5 to Enable Safe Mode or Enable Safe Mode with Networking respectively. 

  • Your device will restart in Safe Mode.


If you're using an older version of Windows (Windows 7 or earlier), go to Power and click Restart. While your device is booting up, hold down the F8 key. 


Now that your device is in safe mode access your website again. If the error is fixed, the problem may be third-party software on your device, such as your antivirus application.


Solution #4: Deactivate Your Firewall Temporarily

If the three troubleshooting tips didn't help you fix the error, the next thing you can do is temporarily deactivate your firewall. Although antivirus software is critical for protecting you and your device against cyberattacks, these applications can often cause issues that interfere with network connections.


Follow these steps if you're a Mac user:


  • Navigate to System Preferences > Security & Privacy > Firewall.

  • Deactivate your Firewall.

Windows users can deactivate their Firewall by following these steps:


  • Go to the Control Panel.

  • Navigate to Update & Security > Windows Security > Virus & Threat Protection > Manage Settings.

Once your firewall is deactivated, open your website again from your browser. If the error is fixed, consider using different antivirus software from the one you're currently using. Another solution is to reconfigure the settings of your existing application.

Solution #5: Disable All Secondary Connections

You're probably reading solution #5 because all other troubleshooting tips didn't help you fix the error. 


The next thing you can do is disable all secondary connections on your device. The only connection that should be active is the one you're currently using.


If you're a Mac user, follow the steps below:


  • Go to System Preferences > Network. 

  • You'll find all connections on the left side of the window.

  • To disconnect or disable a connection, right-click on one and then select Disable.


If you're a Windows user, follow the steps below:


  • Type in "Network connections” into the search box of your desktop taskbar.

  • Click on View network connections.

  • You'll be directed to the Network Connections page.

  • To disconnect or disable a connection, right-click on one, and then select Disable.

Once you disable all connections, restart your browser and go to your website.

Solution #6: Disable the Windows Peer-to-Peer Feature

The next troubleshooting tip applies only to those using a Windows device. Mac users can skip to the next item on the list.


In short, the peer-to-peer feature on Windows helps preserve the download bandwidth of your device. The feature lets you download an update one time and then uses your device to share the updated version across other computers using your local network. 


Despite the perks, this feature can, in some cases, interfere with your DNS processes. For this reason, you can try disabling it to see if doing so will fix the DNS Server Not Responding error.


Here are step-by-step instructions on how to quickly disable it:


  • Click on the Windows icon.

  • Go to Settings > Update & Security.

  • On the left-hand side of the window, select Delivery Optimization.

  • Toggle the ‘Allow downloads from other PCs’ switch to disable the feature. 

  • Restart your computer and try accessing your website again.

Solution #7:Update Your Network Adapter Driver

It's possible that your DNS server doesn't respond because your network adapter driver is outdated. There are two ways to update it: manually and by using an automated tool.


You can update the network adapter driver manually only if you're familiar with drivers. If not, consider using a tool like Snappy Driver Installer or Driver Easy.


Once you update your drivers, restart your computer. If the DNS Server Not Responding error persists, continue to read the next solution.


Solution #8: Flush Your DNS Cache and Reset Your IP

If all the troubleshooting tips we mentioned above didn't help fix the issue, it might be worth trying flushing your DNS cache and resetting your IP. It's possible that your DNS needs to be cleared so that it can connect to the internet or that your IP needs a reset. 


Here's how Mac users can flush their DNS cache:


  • Press Command + Space key to open the Terminal application.

  • Enter the following code in the Terminal application window:dscacheutil -flushcache

  • Press the Enter key.

For Windows users, follow the step-by-step instructions below:

  • Type “cmd” into the search field along the taskbar.

  • Select the Command Prompt app.

  • In the window that appears on the screen, enter ipconfig/flushdns (no comma).

  • Click Enter. 


You'll see a message informing you that the DNS cache was successfully cleaned. Repeat the same process for the following commands: 


  • ipconfig /registerdns 

  • ipconfig /release 

  • ipconfig /renew

Solution #9: Disable IPv6

In case you don't know, IPv6 is the most recent version of the Internet Protocol (IP), which allows communication and data transfers to take place over the network. However, it can also be the cause for the DNS Server Not Responding error. 


Here's how you can disable the function if you're a Mac user:


  • Click on System Preferences.

  • Open Network.

  • Select the network that you are currently using and click on Advanced.

  • Set Configure IPv6 to Off.

  • Refresh your browser to see if the DNS Server Not Responding error is fixed.

Here's how you can disable the function if you're using Windows:


  • Open your Network Connections control panel.

  • Right-click on your current connection and select Properties in the drop-down menu.

  • On the Networking tab of the panel that opens, scroll down until you see Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6). 

  • Unselect the box and click on OK. 

  • Try connecting to the internet.

Solution #10: Change Your DNS Server Address

If everything else fails, the last tip we have for you is to change your default DNS server address. 


Here's how to do it in macOS:


  • Go to System Preferences.

  • Select the Network icon. 

  • Choose your current network, and click on the Advanced button.

  • Go to the DNS tab and click the (+) button next to “IPv4 or IPv6 addresses”, and click Enter.

  • Enter the new DNS information and click on OK followed by Apply. 

  • Restart your web browser. 


When entering new DNS information, you can enter Google's DNS server, for example, under Preferred DNS server. You can do so by entering 8.8. 8.8, which is the primary DNS server for Google DNS. You can add “8.8.4.4” under Alternative DNS server, and click OK.


Follow the steps below if you're using Windows:


  • Click on the Windows button in the bottom-left corner of the task bar. 

  • In the search field, type “Network connections”.

  • In the menu that appears, choose View network connections.

  • Choose the internet adapter you’re currently using. Right-click on the internet adapter, and then on Properties.

  • A new window will open. Choose Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4), and then click on the Properties button.

  • Choose Use the following DNS server addresses and add the address of an alternative server.

  • Restart your web browser. 

Conclusion

Not being able to access your website due to a DNS Server Not Responding error can be frustrating and worrisome. The issue can be due to a number of reasons, but luckily, there are some things you can do to fix the issue. 


To sum up, the 10 strategies for fixing the DNS Server Not Responding error are:


  • Restart your router to flush the router's cache.

  • Try accessing your website from a different browser.

  • Start your PC in safe mode.

  • Temporarily deactivate your firewall. 

  • Disable all secondary connections on your device.

  • Disable the peer-to-peer feature on Windows.

  • Update the network adapter driver manually or by using an automated tool. 

  • Try flushing your DNS cache and resetting your IP.

  • Disable IPv6.

  • Change your default DNS server address.

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