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Checking DNS records for developers

DNS management tools

In this article, you will learn several things about checking DNS records for domains. Ideal for developers or web professionals who want to learn how to move and manage domains in the most professional manner. It contains various management tools and explanations for using the DIG command via the command line interface / Terminal.

Looking up public DNS references

Dig, which stands for 'Domain Information Groper', allows you to check DNS records quickly and easily. Dig is a network management tool used to retrieve details from a Domain Name System. It is useful for verifying and resolving DNS issues and performing DNS searches.

Use the commands below to look up to which IP address a DNS rule type of a domain actively refers to on the public internet. This is useful for looking up an IP address or for quickly looking up name servers or mail servers.

dig NS hoasted.com
dig MX hoasted.com
dig A hoasted.com
dig TXT hoasted.com

This is how you see it with dig MX hoasted.com Google's mail server details come up, indicating that mail is going through G Suite.

hoasted.com. 300 IN MX 10 aspmx.l.google.com.
hoasted.com. 300 IN MX 20 alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.
hoasted.com. 300 IN MX 20 alt2.aspmx.l.google.com.
hoasted.com. 300 IN MX 30 aspmx2.googlemail.com.
hoasted.com. 300 IN MX 30 aspmx3.googlemail.com.

View TTL

When you do a dig A on a domain, the results also show the TTL (time to live) as a number expressed in seconds (300 in this example, 5 minutes minimum):

domain.nl. 300 IN A 158.65.98.139

This indicates how long it takes for the DNS data to be retrieved again by your provider, at the relevant nameservers of doom. In most cases, this is the number of seconds you have to wait for a domain transfer until the new IP address is visible.

Look up whois data and domain details

With the commands below you can find the underlying details of a domain. With a whois on a domain or an IP address you can quickly see what the status of a domain is, whether a domain lock is active and which name servers are active. With a whois on an IP address you can see who is the administrator of the IP and which network is used.

whois domain.nl
whois 178.33.223.161

Look up reverse hostname

If you want to see which server hostname is used on an IP address, you can use the so-called host command. For example, you can see in the example below that this IP refers to server s1114 at Hoasted.
host 178.33.223.161

Look up DNS details on other name servers

If you want to transfer a domain and check in advance whether all DNS records with the new provider are correct, you can also look up the DNS records within specific name servers. In the case of Hoasted, the first name server is ns1.hoasted.nl. This way you can quickly see if you have already set everything correctly. To do this, place the relevant name server behind the dig command, with which you no longer search the public internet, but only in that specific name server (so @ ns1.hoasted.nl ensures that the name server is searched):

dig MX hoasted.com @ ns1.hoasted.nl

Look up old DNS data

If you want to retrieve historical DNS records, you can use the tool below:

https://www.dnstrails.com/

  1. Go to https://www.dnstrails.com/
  2. Enter the domain
  3. Go to the historical data tab
  4. There you can see all the history of all DNS records

Domain and DNS tools in the browser

In addition to using the command line to search for DNS queries, there are several tools to search for DNS records using various web tools on the Internet. The tools below are the most used and favorite websites by us. 

Whats My DNS

Ideal for doing a quick check worldwide whether a domain already points to the desired DNS record. This is especially useful during the transfer process, where you can see when the domeni actively refers to the new IP or, for example, the newly configured name servers.

https://www.whatsmydns.net/

Dig web interface

This tool is the command line version in the browser and offers all possibilities to make DNS requests from different types of records and options. Here you can even register specific name servers to search in the Hoasted DNS zone (specify myself, enter @ ns1.hoasted.nl)

https://www.digwebinterface.com/

Google DIG

https://toolbox.googleapps.com/apps/dig/#MX/

Set CloudFlare DNS resolver on your computer

You have the option to adjust the default DNS resolver of your internet provider (for example Ziggo, UPC or KPN) to the resolvers of CloudFlare. This will make your DNS requests (and thus your website loading times) for your own computer a bit faster and more up to date. This is ideal for developers and web professionals and set up with the manuals below:

Other useful websites and tools

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