Name-server redundancy

Kevin Darcy kcd at
Mon Jun 9 21:32:15 UTC 2014

Well, you shouldn't be getting an NXDOMAIN just because some of your 
auth servers are off-line, but you could get some query timeouts if 
performance to your failover servers is really bad (or blocked, due to 
firewall rules, bad routes, etc.), or, if your expire times are *really* 
low, and the master's been down a while, it's possible the zone may have 
expired on the slaves.

In any of those cases, I'm suspecting you're using nslookup, and you 
might be suffering from its horrible misfeature where it searchlists on 
a query failure, and then reports the *last* RCODE it received as the 
result of the entire lookup. So, for example, if your query is and your searchlist ends in the domain, if the first query fails (e.g. with a timeout 
or a SERVFAIL), nslookup might work through the searchlist, ultimately 
querying, which returns 
NXDOMAIN, and that's what nslookup (mis-)reports as the result of the query.

You can avoid this by dot-terminating the original query (thus 
inhibiting nslookup's searchlist behavior), or even better, using a real 
DNS troubleshooting tool like dig or host. If you want to continue to 
use nslookup, at the very least add the -debug flag so you can see what 
it's really doing under the covers.

                     - Kevin
On 6/9/2014 4:36 PM, Sid Shapiro wrote:
> Hello,
> I've got 6 name-servers, 2 in each of 3 global regions. Each 
> name-server has a net connection. Each name-server is authoritative. 
> the domains it server have all six NS records.
> My question has to do with redundancy. If one of my "regions" goes 
> down, I would have expected that a query against a domain would reach 
> one of the other region's name-servers. However, during a maintenance 
> window when one regions was off the air, I did some simple queries. I 
> did not have a lot of time to do a lot of detailed testing and 
> tracing. I was simply trying to see if I could get a query resolved.
> What I got, was a "no name-server" error. I do not have the exact 
> message, nor the timings. I could see (somehow) that there might be 
> some time-out issue on the client, but the no name-servers response 
> came pretty quickly.
> This doesn't seem like a configuration problem, although I suppose it 
> might be. It seems more like a misunderstanding how redundancy works 
> at the domain level.
> Have I totally misunderstood a concept here?
> Thanks
> --
> Sid Shapiro sid_shapiro at <mailto:sid_shapiro at>
> Bio-Rad Corporate IT  - Desk: (510) 741-6846   Mobile: (510) 224-4343
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