How to Fix the “DNS Server Not Responding” Error on Windows

The “DNS Server Not Responding” error is a common issue that can prevent you from accessing websites and other internet resources on your Windows PC. This error occurs when your computer is unable to contact the DNS server which translates domain names into IP addresses.

Fortunately, there are a number of troubleshooting steps you can take to resolve this error and restore full internet connectivity. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through all the potential causes and solutions for fixing the DNS server not responding problem in Windows.

What Causes the DNS Server Not Responding Error?

Before we get into the specific fixes, let’s first understand what causes this error in the first place. Here are some of the most common reasons your Windows PC may show the DNS server not responding message:

DNS Server is Down

The most straightforward cause is that the DNS server your computer is configured to use is down or unreachable. This could be your ISP’s DNS server or a public DNS server like Google or Cloudflare. If the server is offline or experiencing an outage, your PC won’t be able to resolve domain names.

Network Connectivity Issues

Problems with your internet connection can also lead to a DNS error. An unstable Wi-Fi signal, faulty network hardware, or ISP outage can interrupt the connection between your PC and the DNS server.

Incorrect DNS Settings

If your DNS server settings are invalid or point to a non-working server, the DNS query will fail. Incorrect DNS server IP addresses configured manually or by your router’s DHCP server will cause this issue.

Malware or Viruses

DNS settings and traffic can sometimes be hijacked by malware or viruses designed to redirect your traffic for malicious purposes. If infected, your PC may be unable to reach the intended DNS server.

Firewall Blocking Access

Overly restrictive firewall settings either on your local machine or network can block access to DNS servers. Windows Firewall or a third-party antivirus software misconfiguration are common culprits.

System File Corruption

Corrupted Windows system files, registry issues, or malware infections can lead to name resolution failures. The DNS client, Winsock, TCP/IP stack, and related files help facilitate DNS queries.

Now that we know what’s behind the “DNS server not responding” error, let’s go through the top solutions for addressing it on Windows machines.

How to fix DNS Server Not Responding

How to Fix the DNS Server Not Responding Problem

1. Flush the DNS Resolver Cache

Flushing the DNS cache forces your PC to discard any stored DNS records and re-query the DNS server. This can resolve issues caused by invalid entries in the cache.

To flush the DNS cache in Windows:

  • Open the Command Prompt as administrator
  • Run the command ipconfig /flushdns
  • Restart your computer

Flushing the DNS cache resets Windows DNS client settings which may fix name resolution problems if they were caused by corrupted cache data.

2. Renew IP Address and Reset Network Adapter

If the problem stems from invalid network configurations or instability, renewing your IP address and resetting the network adapter is worth trying:

  • Open an elevated Command Prompt
  • Type ipconfig /release and press Enter to release current IP configuration
  • Now run ipconfig /renew to request fresh IP address from the DHCP server
  • Enter ipconfig /flushdns again to flush any records retrieved with old configuration
  • Finally, reset your network adapter with netsh int ip reset
  • Reboot computer

This will wipe out any problematic IP settings, force renewal from the DHCP server, clear the DNS cache, and reinitialize the network adapter.

How to Fix the "DNS Server Not Responding" Error on Windows 1

3. Set DNS Server to Google or Cloudflare Public DNS

Using a public DNS server like Google ( and or Cloudflare ( and can bypass issues with your ISP’s DNS server.

To set Google or Cloudflare as the DNS server on Windows:

  • Go to Network Connections settings
  • Locate your network adapter and open Properties
  • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)
  • Click Properties and use Google or Cloudflare DNS under ‘Use the following DNS server addresses
  • Restart your computer

This will configure your system to use free public DNS servers which often resolve connectivity problems caused by ISP DNS server outages.

4. Disable VPN or Proxy Settings if Configured

VPN services and proxies often perform their own DNS resolution which can lead to conflicts. If you have a VPN or proxy enabled, try disabling it temporarily to see if this fixes the DNS issue.

  • Open Settings > Network & Internet > VPN
  • Switch the toggle Off for any active VPN connections
  • Go to Settings > Network & Internet > Proxy
  • Make sure Automatically detect settings is selected

After disconnecting the VPN and proxies, restart your computer and test if DNS queries now succeed without these extra network layers interfering.

5. Reset TCP/IP Stack with Netsh Commands

Resetting the TCP/IP stack will reinitialize all network protocol settings – this can resolve DNS problems caused by corruption.

Follow these steps to reset TCP/IP in Windows:

  • Open an elevated Command Prompt
  • Type netsh int ip reset
  • Next run netsh winsock reset
  • Restart your PC

This will reset TCP/IP configurations, refresh the network component’s state, and restart associated services.

6. Scan for Malware and Run Antivirus

As mentioned before, malware and viruses can sometimes modify DNS settings or tamper with DNS traffic for malicious intent. Running a malware scan and antivirus check could identify and remove any infections responsible for the DNS issues.

  • Run a full scan with your installed antivirus software
  • Download and run the Malwarebytes Anti-Malware tool
  • Restart after scans to clear any detected infections

Take action to address any threats found during the scans that could be interfering with DNS functionality on your system.

7. Update Network and DNS Driver Software

Outdated or buggy network adapters or DNS client drivers can trigger connection issues like DNS failure. Updating to the latest driver versions often resolves these problems.

  • Open Device Manager
  • Expand ‘Network adapters’ and right-click your adapter
  • Select ‘Update driver’ and choose to automatically search for updated driver software, then install updates
  • Expand ‘Other devices’ and update any devices marked with yellow exclamation alerts
  • Download and install the latest DNS Client service update for your Windows version

Updating your network adapter, Windows components, and DNS client software can help fix DNS query failures caused by bugs or incompatibilities.

8. Change DNS Server Settings on Router

In many home and office networks, the DNS server settings distributed to connected PCs are configured on the router level. Check your router’s admin interface to validate that proper DNS servers are set:

  • Log into your router admin page ( or check manual)
  • Navigate to DNS server or DHCP settings
  • Verify working public or ISP DNS servers are entered ( or your ISP’s preferred servers)
  • Save settings and restart the router

Double check the router is handing out valid DNS server addresses to connected devices. Set static DNS servers if the router’s dynamic assignment is malfunctioning.

How to Fix the "DNS Server Not Responding" Error on Windows 2

9. Disable or Allow DNS Port on Firewall

If a software firewall on your Windows machine or network is misconfigured, it could block access to DNS servers. Ensure TCP and UDP port 53 access is allowed:

  • Open Windows Firewall settings
  • Click ‘Allow an app or feature through firewall’
  • Ensure ‘Domain Name System (DNS)’ is checked under allowed apps/features
  • For advanced firewalls, create rules to allow TCP/UDP 53 inbound/outbound

Additionally, you can temporarily disable the Windows firewall entirely to isolate whether it is interfering with DNS queries.

10. Modify Hosts File and WINSOCK Settings

In some instances, hardcoded changes to DNS or network settings can cause “server not responding” errors. Undo any manual hosts file or interface modifications:

  • Open Notepad as admin and navigate to C:\Windows\System32\drivers\etc
  • Open the ‘hosts’ file and remove any custom entries
  • Delete the entire contents if corrupted
  • Restore backups or default hosts files as needed
  • Reset TCP/IP stack and network adapters as described in earlier tips

Reverting any incorrect manual DNS or WINSOCK configurations can restore proper name resolution functionality on Windows.

Advanced DNS Server Troubleshooting

If you’ve tried all the basic fixes but are still unable to resolve the DNS server not responding error, some of these advanced steps may be needed for troubleshooting the issue:

Use nslookup to Test DNS Resolution

The nslookup command lets you verify DNS query functionality for a specific domain. Open Command Prompt and run:


If it fails to resolve, there is still an issue with DNS lookups on your system. nslookup can also be used to query specific DNS servers to isolate the problem:


Change TCP/IP DNS Properties

In the TCP/IP settings for your network connection, try changing ‘Append these DNS suffixes’ to your ISP’s domain and ‘Append parent suffixes of the primary DNS suffix’ to the end.

Manually setting the proper DNS suffix search lists can fix resolution for local domains.

Flush the DNS Using the ipconfig Command

The ipconfig utility provides a way to flush DNS independently from Command Prompt:

ipconfig /flushdns

You can also register DNS records again with ipconfig:

ipconfig /registerdns

And refresh all network component operations:

ipconfig /registerdns
ipconfig /flushdns
ipconfig /renew
netsh int ip reset
netsh winsock reset

Contact ISP if DNS Server Unreachable

If you can confirm the DNS servers specified by your ISP or router are not responding, contact technical support to have them investigate and resolve the DNS outage.

Problems with ISP DNS infrastructure must be addressed at the source. A DNS server failure or misconfiguration on their side can cause connectivity issues for all customers.

Reinstall Network Adapter Drivers

A corrupted network adapter driver may need to be completely uninstalled and reinstalled, rather than just updated to the latest version. Download the latest drivers from your manufacturer and:

  • Open Device Manager
  • Right click your network adapter and select Uninstall
  • Restart your computer
  • Install the network adapter drivers you downloaded
  • Reboot again

This will fully refresh the adapter’s driver files which could fix the DNS error.

Troubleshoot with Microsoft Network Monitor or Wireshark

Advanced tools like Microsoft Network Monitor or Wireshark can capture DNS traffic and analyze what is occurring when DNS queries fail. They can decode where requests are going and what responses come back to help isolate the cause.

Microsoft Network Monitor comes pre-installed on Windows Server platforms. Wireshark can be installed on both client and server versions. Both are complex tools but can provide in-depth DNS debugging capability.

Test with Third-Party DNS Servers

Troubleshoot DNS connectivity by testing with some alternative third-party public DNS servers:

  • Quad9: and
  • OpenDNS: and
  • Level3: and
  • Comodo: and

If DNS works properly when pointing to one of these but not your ISP’s server, it confirms an issue with your configured domains rather than the local PC.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps if Issue Persists

Some key takeaways to keep in mind when dealing with the DNS server not responding error:

  • Flush the DNS cache and renew your IP address/adapter to reset configurations
  • Use public DNS servers like Google or Cloudflare as alternates to test connectivity
  • Check VPN, proxies, firewall for interference with DNS traffic
  • Scan for malware and update networking drivers
  • Validate router DHCP settings are handing out proper DNS server addresses
  • nslookup, Network Monitor and Wireshark help advanced troubleshooting
  • Contact ISP support if they can confirm an outage with their DNS servers

If you still can’t determine the cause of the DNS failure after exhausting all these steps, a few next actions include:

  • Trying a different network such as tethering your phone, public Wi-Fi or even reinstalling the OS as a last resort
  • Posting details on tech help forums for external troubleshooting ideas
  • Engaging professional support technicians who can inspect your network
  • Testing on multiple machines to isolate the issue to an adapter or the network

Often the DNS not responding error can be resolved with one of the easier fixes like flushing the DNS or changing servers. But for persistent issues with no clear cause, deeper troubleshooting is required working through both software and hardware scenarios. Withocused trial and elimination of each potential failure point, the source of the DNS problem can eventually be uncovered.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my DNS server keep failing?

Some common reasons a DNS server fails repeatedly include:

  • Unstable internet connection causing intermittent DNS outages
  • Incorrect DNS configuration on the router providing invalid DNS server addresses
  • Local network firewall blocking TCP/UDP port 53 access to DNS servers
  • DNS cache getting corrupted and needing frequent flushing
  • Persistent malware redirecting DNS traffic or altering settings

How do I know if my DNS server is down?

Ways to confirm DNS server failure:

  • Get “DNS server not responding” error when opening websites
  • nslookup unable to resolve domain names to IPs
  • Internet connection works but most sites time out
  • Traceroute shows timeouts when contacting DNS servers
  • Provider confirms outage of their DNS servers

What port does DNS use?

DNS primarily uses TCP and UDP port 53 for requests from DNS clients to DNS servers. This port needs to be open for successful name resolution.

Can multiple DNS servers be used?

Yes, you can configure multiple DNS servers with one set as primary and others as secondary servers. Windows will query the primary server first and failover to secondary servers if the primary is unresponsive.

What is the most reliable public DNS server?

Google ( and and Cloudflare ( and are among the most reliable and fastest public DNS resolvers. However, your ISP’s own DNS servers normally provide optimal performance for your network.


DNS server errors can disrupt your internet connectivity and prevent access to websites and networked resources. There are many potential causes – from server outages to firewall misconfigurations – that should be investigated through systematic troubleshooting.

Quick fixes like flushing the DNS cache and changing to public DNS servers can provide temporary relief. For permanent resolution, settings like router DHCP, VPNs, network adapters and Windows DNS client configurations need to be optimized based on the identified root cause.

Taking the time to thoroughly test each factor and rule out variables will avoid wasted effort and lead you to the real issue. Patience and persistence is key when faced with “DNS server not responding” errors. Careful attention to detail during troubleshooting will ultimately uncover the culprit and lead to stable DNS resolution.

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