Workstation Primary & Secondary DNS

Yann Shukor
Yann Shukor used Ask the Experts™

My networked Windows workstation has two DNS servers referenced in its IP config

The first, primary, DNS server is our local network's DNS server, the secondary,

If I ping a remote server, that isn't referenced by our local network's DNS server thern I don't obtain any responses

If, while seated in front of a PC that has as it's primary DNS server, I do the same, my pings all get a response back

Why is it that the secondary DNS server, configured on my PC, doesn't kick in to take ove where the primary one failed ?

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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Are you pinging the remote server by Name or by IP address. It should work by IP address. By Name requires DNS resolution where you are.  You can put the server name in your local HOSTS file and then you probably will be able to ping the remote server by name.

Alternate DNS will not help with this.

Generally I just use DHCP on a workstation as it is fully satisfactory and I do not need an alternate DNS. My networks need that.
I have always found issues when using anything but my own DNS. I have never used an outside DNS and never had any issues. Why are you using that anyway?
Let's take this back a step..

First, only your DNS server(s) should be listed in your IP config settings. If for some reason you cannot access a site using your own DNS server you will need to look into that problem.

Now, with that said, what is occurring is you are connected to your DNS server but it cannot resolve the web site name. Since your DNS server is answering your request, your PC won't roll to the secondary DNS server - this is normal. If your DNS server did not respond at all that is when the secondary would kick in. This is for redundancy.

So, the proper way to resolve that is to add the Public DNS (in your case Google's to your server's Forwarders (see steps below). When your DNS server fails to resolve the name via your ISP's DNS servers, or if your Router is not forwarding requests properly to the ISP (which is essentially the case), it will auto kick to the Forwarder IPs and resolve that way.

- Log into your DNS Server
- Launch DNS (Admin Tools - DNS)
- Right click your server name in the DNS Manager
- Select the 'Forwarders' tab
- Select 'Edit'
- You will see a line where it states "<Click here to add an IP address or DNS name>"
In that field you will clear out all words and type in
- Click off the line you typed in (click anywhere in the 'Edit Forwarders' box beneath your entry) it will save and then appear in your list with a green check mark if it resolves and the word 'OK' will appear in the 'Validated' column.
- Select OK

What this does is tell your DNS server to use that IP if all normal DNS queries fail.    

If the green check mark does not appear then you have other issues to work through. The screen shot below is what it will (mostly) look like - showing Google as Validated:
dns forwarder
Jeremy WeisingerSenior Network Consultant / Engineer
Machienet hit the nail on the head. The only thing I will add is that you should never configure computers with external DNS when you have internal DNS servers. The reason is that when a computer fails over to the secondary due to the primary not responding, it will never fail back until the secondary fails to respond, even if your primary is back online.

The only way to fix it is reset the network adapter (disable/enable, reboot, reconfig... all those actions reset the adapter).

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