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DNS Tools

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

There are a number of utilities for administering, monitoring, and troubleshooting both Domain Name System (DNS) servers and clients. These utilities include the following:

  • DNS Manager (DNS on the Administrative Tools menu).

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

  • Logging features, such as the DNS server log, which you can view by using DNS Manager or Event Viewer. You can also use file-based logs 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).

DNS Manager

The primary tool that you use to manage DNS servers is DNS Manager, the DNS snap-in in Microsoft Management Console (MMC), which appears as DNS in Administrative Tools on the Start menu. You can use DNS Manager along with other snap-ins in MMC, further integrating DNS administration into your total network management. It is also available in Server Manager on computers with the DNS Server role installed.

You can use DNS Manager to perform the following basic administrative server tasks:

  • Performing initial configuration of a new DNS server.

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

  • Adding and removing forward and reverse lookup zones, as necessary.

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

  • Modifying how zones are stored and replicated between servers.

  • Modifying how servers process queries and handle dynamic updates.

  • Modifying security for specific zones or resource records.

In addition, you can also use DNS Manager 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 necessary, clear it.

  • Tune advanced server options.

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

In addition, you can also operate DNS Manager from a workstation to remotely administer DNS servers.


You can use DNS Manager only to manage DNS servers running Windows Server operating systems. The console cannot be used to manage other DNS servers, such as BIND servers.

Command-line utilities

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

Command Description


Performs query testing of the DNS domain namespace.


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.


Displays and modifies IP configuration details that are used by the computer. Additional command-line options are included with this utility to provide help in troubleshooting and supporting DNS clients.

Event-monitoring utilities

The Windows Server 2008 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 you can view using DNS Manager or Event Viewer.

    The DNS server log contains events that are 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, for example, when the server starts but cannot locate initializing data and zones or boot information stored in the registry or (in some cases) Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS).

    You can use Event Viewer to view and monitor client-related DNS events. These events appear in the System log, and they are written by the DNS Client service at any computers running Windows (all versions).

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

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

Performance-monitoring utilities

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

When you use 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.

Through measurement and review of 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.

Windows Management Instrumentation

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 WMI, see Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) (

Platform Software Developer Kit

Computers that run a product in the Windows Server 2008 family provide functions that make it possible for application programmers to use DNS, for example, 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 DNS is required. Programmers should be familiar with the IP protocol suite, as well as the DNS protocol and DNS operations.