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ICANN Experts Explain the Latest DNS Troubleshooting Tools

31 May 2023
By and

The Domain Name System (DNS) serves as a fundamental pillar of Internet infrastructure, enabling the translation of domain names into Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. This allows users to access websites, send and receive emails, and use various Internet resources.

The DNS, like other protocols, is susceptible to errors that can disrupt online services and hinder Internet user experience. Resolving these errors quickly and effectively is crucial to maintaining a smooth and reliable Internet. Below are two proposed solutions to help find and resolve DNS woes quickly and efficiently.

Improving Understanding of DNS Errors

When DNS errors occur, it is often challenging to pinpoint where the exact problems occurred and the necessary steps to mitigate them. Such errors can manifest as website unavailability, slow loading speeds, or failure in delivering emails to intended recipients. Multiple factors can contribute to DNS errors, including misconfigurations, server failures, software glitches, network issues, or even malicious attacks

Traditionally, DNS error codes provide limited information, making troubleshooting a complex, time-consuming process requiring a lot of skill. A recent enhancement called Extended DNS Errors (RFC 8914) enables the DNS to convey more detailed error information to clients and network operators. By offering specific error details, DNS elements implementing Extended DNS Errors facilitate the identification and resolution of DNS issues, streamlining the troubleshooting process.

Reporting DNS Errors Automatically

Uncovering DNS errors promptly and accurately is crucial for organizations to take corrective action. To enable more efficient error reporting, the DNS Operations Working Group at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is working on a new DNS protocol extension, named DNS Error Reporting. This extension empowers the DNS to report errors automatically.

This would help in analyzing and investigating reported errors, and subsequently notifying responsible parties. The automated reporting processes use the DNS protocol itself, which streamlines identification and resolution of errors, reducing the need for organizations to rely on external sources like social media to learn about issues with their domains.


A proposal for DNS Error Reporting was initially presented to the IETF's DNS Operations Working Group in October 2020 and adopted as a work item in April 2021. In addition to protocol development, substantial progress has been made with the implementation of running code over the past two years. The protocol extension is anticipated to become a proposed standard before the end of this year.


DNS errors can have significant implications for Internet users and organizations. Advancements such as Extended DNS Errors and the forthcoming DNS protocol extension for reporting errors will be instrumental in improving the troubleshooting process. With clearer error descriptions and automated reporting mechanisms, organizations will be able to identify and resolve DNS issues promptly, ensuring a smoother and more reliable online experience for everyone. These developments bolster the overall stability and functionality of the Internet.


Matt Larson

Matt Larson

Vice President, Research, and Managing Director - Washington D.C.

Roy Arends

Principal Research Scientist