DNS failover (non-cluster) in Windows Server

Posted on 2009-12-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-08
I'm trying to understand why I can't get failover to work correctly between the two DNS servers I have set up in our domain. They are both Windows Server 2008 machines. The clients all have pointers to both in primary/secondary DNS entries. Each server points to itself for primary and the other for secondary.

When I disable the network connection on the primary, the secondary should take over DNS resolution for clients but it does not. Web browsers just time out. I had this working correctly for awhile when I had both servers running Server 2003, but since I upgraded to 2008, it hasn't worked. I think I have the configuration really close to the same, if not exactly the same, but now it doesn't work.

What am I missing here? I know that NSLOOKUP won't resolve correctly if the primary goes down, but web browsing should and I need this to work for failover purposes.
    LVL 7

    Accepted Solution

    point nslookup to the secondary when the primary is down, does it resolve anything?
    use nslookup on the secondard server itself, does it resolve anything? can you ping anything (like or even the gateway) from the secondary?

    Author Comment

    i can ping from the secondary, just no DNS resolution. i don't know how to point nslookup to a different server. nslookup on secondary fails.

    Author Comment

    AHHH, you helped me figure it out! thank you!

    the forwarders i set up originally were for Qwest. even though they were supposedly "authoritative", they seemed to stop resolving after a week. I changed them to & on the other server and thought I had done it on this one, but it was still using Qwest's addresses. I realized after your post that the secondary wasn't able to resolve either, which is why none of the clients could do so. after changing the forwarders, it's working correctly now.

    Thanks much.

    Author Comment

    BTW, how do you change the pointer for nslookup?
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    get into nslookup
    type "server = xyz"
    or type "server ="
    then enter what you want to lookup on each line

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