DNS tools

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

DNS tools

There are a number of utilities for administering, monitoring, and troubleshooting both DNS servers and clients. These utilities include:

  • The DNS console, which is part of Administrative Tools.

  • Command-line utilities, such as Nslookup, which can be used to troubleshoot DNS problems.

  • Logging features, such as the DNS server log, which can be viewed using the DNS console or Event Viewer. File-based logs can also be used temporarily as an advanced debugging option to log and trace selected service events.

  • Performance monitoring utilities, such as statistical counters to measure and monitor DNS server activity with System Monitor.

  • Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), a standard technology for accessing management information in an enterprise environment.

  • Platform Software Developer Kit (SDK).

The DNS console

The primary tool that you use to manage DNS servers is the DNS console, which is located in the Administrative Tools folder in the Start menu's Programs folder. The DNS console can be used on its own or as a Microsoft Management Console (MMC) , further integrating DNS administration into your total network management.

The DNS console can only be used after DNS is installed on the server. You can use the DNS console to perform these basic administrative server tasks:

  1. Performing initial configuration of a new DNS server.

  2. Connecting to and managing a local DNS server on the same computer, or remote DNS servers on other computers.

  3. Adding and removing forward and reverse lookup zones as needed.

  4. Adding, removing, and updating resource records in zones.

  5. Modifying how zones are stored and replicated between servers.

  6. Modifying how servers process queries and handle dynamic updates.

  7. Modifying security for specific zones or resource records.

In addition, you can also use the DNS console to perform the following tasks:

  • Perform maintenance on the server. You can start, stop, pause, or resume the server, or manually update server data files.

  • Monitor the contents of the server cache and, as needed, clear it.

  • Tune advanced server options.

  • Configure and perform aging and scavenging of stale resource records stored by the server.

In addition, you can also operate the DNS console from a workstation to remotely administer DNS servers. For more information, see Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack.


  • The DNS console can only be used to manage DNS servers running Microsoft® Windows® and cannot be used to manage other DNS servers, such as BIND.


  • The DNS console provides new ways to perform familiar DNS administrative tasks previously performed in Microsoft® Windows® NT Server 4.0 using DNS Manager. For more information, see New ways to do familiar DNS tasks.

  • To use the DNS console from another non-server computer, such as one running Microsoft® Windows® XP Professional, you must install the Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack

  • For information on installing DNS, see Install a DNS server.

Command-line utilities

There are several command-line utilities you can use to manage and troubleshoot DNS servers and clients. The following table describes each of these utilities, which can be run either by typing them at a command prompt or by entering them in batch files for scripted use.

Command Description


Used to perform query testing of the DNS domain namespace. For more information, see Nslookup.


A command-line interface for managing DNS servers. This utility is useful in scripting batch files to help automate routine DNS management tasks, or to perform simple unattended setup and configuration of new DNS servers on your network. For more information, see Server administration using Dnscmd.


This command is used to view and modify IP configuration details used by the computer. Additional command-line options are included with this utility to provide help in troubleshooting and supporting DNS clients. For more information, see Flush and reset a client resolver cache using the ipconfig command or Renew DNS client registration using the ipconfig command.

For information about other command-line utilities, see Command-line reference A-Z. For more information about manageability, see Management Strategies and Tools.

Event monitoring utilities

The Windows Server 2003 family includes two options for monitoring DNS servers:

  • Default logging of DNS server event messages to the DNS server log.

    DNS server event messages are separated and kept in their own system event log, the DNS server log, which can be viewed using the DNS console or Event Viewer. For more information, see View the DNS server system event log.

    The DNS server log contains events logged by the DNS Server service. For example, when the DNS server starts or stops, a corresponding event message is written to this log. Most additional critical DNS Server service events are also logged here, such as when the server starts but cannot locate initializing data, such as zones or boot information stored in the registry or (in some cases) Active Directory.

    The event types logged by DNS servers can be changed using the DNS console. For more information, see DNS server log reference.

    You can use Event Viewer to view and monitor client-related DNS events. These appear in the System log and are written by the DNS Client service at any computers running Windows (all versions). For more information, see Windows interface administrative tool reference A-Z: Event Viewer.

  • Optional debug options for trace logging to a text file on the DNS server computer.

    You can also use the DNS console to selectively enable additional debug logging options for temporary trace logging to a text-based file of DNS server activity. The file created and used for this feature, Dns.log, is stored in the systemroot\System32\Dns folder.

    For more information, see Using server debug logging options.

Performance monitoring utilities

Performance monitoring for DNS servers can be done using additional service-specific counters that measure DNS server performance. These counters are accessible through System Monitor, which is provided in the Performance console.

When using System Monitor, you can create charts and graphs of server performance trends over time for any of your DNS servers. These can be further studied and analyzed to determine if additional server tuning is needed.

By measuring and reviewing server metrics over a period of time, it is possible to determine performance benchmarks and decide if further adjustments can be made to optimize the system. For more information, see Monitoring DNS server performance.

Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI)

WMI is the Microsoft implementation of Web-Based Enterprise Management (WBEM), which is an industry initiative to develop a standard technology for accessing management information in an enterprise environment. WMI uses the Common Information Model (CIM) industry standard to represent systems, applications, networks, devices, and other managed components in an enterprise environment. For more information about Windows Management Instrumentation, see the Microsoft Platform SDK Web site.

Platform Software Developer Kit (SDK)

Computers running a product in the Windows Server 2003 family provide functions that enable application programmers to use DNS, such as programmatically making DNS queries, comparing records, and looking up names.

Programmable DNS components are designed for use by C/C++ programmers. Familiarity with networking and with DNS is required. Programmers should be familiar with the IP protocol suite, as well as the DNS protocol and how DNS operates.