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9 methods to fix the “DNS server not responding” error

Seeing the “DNS server not responding” message pop up when trying to access a web page is extremely annoying. Thankfully, this issue is usually quick and easy to fix whether you use Windows or macOS. In this article, we’ll explore ways to fix the “DNS server not responding” error.

9 methods to fix the “DNS server not responding” error

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

What is the “DNS server not responding” error?

The “DNS server not responding” error relates to the Domain Name System (DNS). The DNS works like an address book for the internet. When visiting a particular website, we usually enter the domain name, which is the main part of the web address or URL. For example, “” is a domain name.

When you type in a domain name, your router sends information from your device to the website’s server. Every device and server connected to the internet has a unique IP address. When the website opens, a link is formed between the IP addresses of the website and your device.

During this process, the DNS automatically translates the domain name you type into the matching IP address for that website. The DNS server contains a library of domain names for thousands of websites. This system saves you from having to remember the IP addresses of the websites you use regularly. Remembering a domain name URL is much easier than an IP address.

However, DNS servers sometimes don’t automatically retrieve the correct IP address when you try to access a web page. This creates the “DNS server not responding” error message. If the DNS doesn’t translate the domain name into an IP address, you can’t access the website. This issue usually happens when your browser fails to connect to the internet.

DNS server errors often occur because of a user-side issue. Thankfully, you can usually fix the issue yourself using several quick and easy methods.

How to fix the “DNS server is not responding” error

The “DNS server not responding” error is a common problem that many computer users face. The error is usually easy to fix using fairly straightforward methods. However, you may need to try several things to pinpoint the specific issue. Let’s look at nine methods for fixing the “DNS server not responding” error.

1. Troubleshoot your network connection

If you receive a “DNS server not responding” error message, look for problems with your network connection. Run a network diagnostic to troubleshoot and solve potential network problems. If the diagnostic identifies a problem, it should also provide a solution.

Troubleshooting your network connection before trying other methods may save you time and effort. See how you can do it on your Windows and macOS computers below.

Troubleshooting your network connection on Windows

If you have a Windows computer, you can troubleshoot your network connection by doing the following:

  1. Open your Control Panel, then click “Network and internet” and “Network and sharing center.”
  2. Under the “Change your networking settings” menu, select “Troubleshoot problems.”
  3. Click on “Additional troubleshooters,” then “Internet connections,” then “Run the troubleshooter.”
  4. Allow the troubleshooter to run. If an error is discovered, follow the suggested instructions.

Troubleshooting your network connection on macOS

All macOS users can follow these steps to run a network diagnostic:

  1. Close all the apps that you’re currently using.
  2. Connect to the network that’s experiencing the error message.
  3. Hold down the “Option” key while clicking on the Wi-Fi icon on your menu bar.
  4. Click on “Open wireless diagnostics” and follow the on-screen instructions.
  5. After the diagnostic is complete, look at the entries in the “Summary” window. To learn more about each suggestion, click on the Info icons next to each entry.

Turning off network connections on Windows

Here’s how to turn off other network connections on your Windows device:

  1. Open the Command Prompt menu by pressing the Windows and R keys simultaneously.
  2. Type “ncpa.cpl” in the “Open” box and press the “Enter” key. This step takes you to the Network Connections page, which shows you every connection on your device.
  3. Right-click on each of the extra networks and then click “Disable.”
  4. Repeat this step until your Wi-Fi connection is the only active connection. Then, try accessing the web page again.

Turning off network connections on macOS

macOS users can turn off other network connections by following these steps:

  1. Open the Apple menu and click “System settings,” then “Network.”
  2. You will see all active connections in this window. Disable all connections until Wi-Fi is the only active connection remaining.
  3. Try opening the web page again in your browser.

2. Restart your router

The “DNS server not responding” error may occur if there’s a problem with your router. Restarting your router may fix the problem and dismiss the error message. Press the power button and unplug the power cable to restart your computer. Wait approximately 30 seconds before plugging the power cable back in and turning the router back on.

Open your web browser and try to access the website you were trying to open when the error message popped up. If you still get a DNS error message, try another solution.

3. Flush DNS cache

Flushing your DNS cache may get rid of the DNS error message. This step clears all the data from your DNS cache, including IP addresses. Flushing your DNS caches works differently depending on whether you use Windows or macOS. Let’s take a look at how to flush your DNS cache for each operating system.

Clearing your DNS cache in Windows

You can follow these steps to clear your DNS cache in your Windows computer:

  1. Access the Command Prompt by pressing the “Windows” and “R” keys simultaneously.
  2. Type in “cmd” in the “Open” box and click “OK.”
  3. Once the Command Prompt window opens, type in “ipconfig/flushdns” before pressing Enter.
  4. A confirmation message should appear telling you the DNS cache has been cleared.

Clearing your DNS cache in macOS

Clearing your DNS cache in macOS is easy with the following steps:

  1. Press F4 and type “terminal” in the Launchpad search box.
  2. In the Terminal, type in the command to clear the DNS cache. Different versions of the macOS require different commands for this.

Find the correct command depending on the operating system of your device:

Mac Operating SystemCommand
Big Sursudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponde
Catalina, High Sierra, Mojave, Sierra, X El Capitan, X Lion, X Mavericks, X Mountain Lionsudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder
X Snow Leopardsudo dscacheutil -flushcache
X Yosemitesudo discoveryutil udnsflushcaches
X Leopard and belowsudo lookupd -flushcache

If clearing the DNS cache doesn’t solve the issue, choose one of the other methods to try.

4. Try using a different device or web browser

One of the easiest ways to deal with a DNS server error is to try using a different device or web browser. This process may help you figure out where the issue is coming from.

If the DNS server isn’t responding to your default web browser, try using an alternative web browser. For example, if you normally use Google Chrome, try Mozilla Firefox instead. If switching to an alternative web browser solves the issue, use that one as your default browser. You could also try updating your previous web browser and see if it helps.

You can also try using a different device to access the desired web page. Connect the second device to your Wi-Fi and try again. If the second device experiences the same issue, try accessing the web page using mobile data instead. This step helps you determine whether your Wi-Fi connection is causing the problem.

If the problem persists across multiple browsers or devices, there may be an issue with your Wi-Fi connection. However, the error could also be caused by a DNS server outage rather than a problem on your end.

5. Change your DNS server address

If your default DNS server isn’t working, it’s possible to change your DNS server address. Usually, your device automatically uses a default DNS server chosen by your internet service provider (ISP). However, if your provider is having a temporary outage, you won’t be able to use that DNS server.

Thankfully, changing to a different DNS server address may solve the problem. Google offers a free public DNS server, which is a good option. Other companies may also provide alternative DNS server addresses.

Changing DNS server address in Windows

Here’s how to change your DNS server address if you use Windows:

  1. Press the “Windows” and “R” keys simultaneously to open the Command Prompt window.
  2. Type “ncpa.cpl” into the “Open” bar and press Enter. This step brings up a list of all the network connections that your computer is using.
  3. Find your current Wi-Fi network and right-click on it. Then click on “Properties.”
  4. In the next window, click on “Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4),” then click on “Properties.”
  5. In the next menu, click on the “Obtain an IP address automatically” box and then on the “Use the following DNS server addresses” box.
  6. In the “Preferred DNS server” and “Alternate DNS server” sections, type in your chosen replacement DNS server addresses. For example, if you’re using Google’s Public DNS service, the addresses are “” and “”
  7. Check the box labeled “Validate settings upon exit,” then click “OK.”

Changing DNS server address in macOS

To change the DNS server address on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Apple menu and click “System settings” followed by “Network.”
  2. Click on your current Wi-Fi network, click “Details,” and then click “DNS.”
  3. Click on the “+” button and enter the address of your alternative DNS server.
  4. Click on “OK,” then on “Apply.”

After changing the DNS server address, try accessing the internet again. Try another solution if you still get the message that the DNS server is not responding.

6. Update your computer’s network adapter driver

You might need to update your computer’s network adapter driver if you are unable to connect to the internet because the network adapter installed on your computer is not functioning properly.

Updating your Windows computer’s network adapter drive

You can enable, update, and reset your Windows 10 computer’s network adapter by taking the following steps:

  1. Right-click the “Start” menu button on your desktop.
  2. Select “Device manager.”
  3. Select “Network adapters.” In the list that appears, you will see a LAN network adapter, which allows your computer to connect to the internet while plugged into the modem with an ethernet cable. You may also have a wireless network adapter. Determine if your internet-related issue occurs while you are directly connected to the modem, or only through wireless, and find the appropriate network adapter in the list.
  4. Right-click on this driver. You’ll see a list of options, including “Properties,” “Enable” or “Disable,” and “Update.”
  5. Select the “Update” option and allow the update manager to run and install any new versions of the driver. If it doesn’t find any updates or resolves the issue, you can right click on the driver again and select “Disable.” Wait a few seconds and choose “Enable” to reset the driver.
  6. Reconnect to your network and test the connection again.

Updating your Mac’s network adapter driver

You can also enable, update, or reset your network adapter on your macOS computer:

  1. Find the Wi-Fi AirPort icon on your desktop and click on it to make the drop-down list appear.
  2. Find “Turn Wi-Fi off” in the list, click on it, and wait a full minute.
  3. Repeat the first step, but this time click on “Turn Wi-Fi on.”
  4. Reconnect to your network and test the connection again.

7. Disable IPv6 on your computer

Every device that accesses the internet uses a version of the Internet Protocol (IP) to communicate with websites. The latest version is IPv6. However, this version hasn’t yet been fully adopted across all devices and websites because it can cause issues. One potential issue is the DNS error message.

To fix a DNS issue, you may want to disable IPv6 on your computer. Some websites still use IPv4 rather than IPv6, and disabling IPv6 should allow you to access these websites. This is one of the advantages of using IPv4 vs IPv6. Thankfully, disabling IPv6 on your computer is fairly straightforward.

Turning off IPv6 on Windows

To turn off IPv6 on Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click the network icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen and select “Open network and internet settings.”
  2. Click on “Network and sharing center.”
  3. Then, click on “Change adapter settings” in the left sidebar.
  4. Right-click on your active Wi-Fi connection and click on “Properties.”
  5. Scroll down in the “Networking” tab and untick the box named “Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6).
  6. Click “OK” to save changes.
  7. Restart your computer.

Turning off IPv6 on macOS

To turn off IPv6 on macOS, complete these steps:

  1. Open “System settings.”
  2. Click “Network.”
  3. Click on your active network connection, then click on “Details.”
  4. Click on the “TCP/IP” section.
  5. Click on the drop-down menu named “Configure IPv6.”
  6. Click “Link-local only.”
  7. Click “OK” to complete the process and then restart your Mac.

8. Temporarily deactivate your antivirus, firewall, or VPN

Your antivirus software, firewall, or VPN encrypts your data and keeps your computer safe. However, if these programs have restrictions, they may interfere with your connection to a DNS server. Temporarily deactivating these programs allows you to check if they are causing the issue. That said, leaving them deactivated permanently is not recommended.

Here’s how to access the antivirus and firewall settings if you’re using Windows:

  1. Open the Start menu and click “Settings,” then “Updates and security.”
  2. Click on “Windows security,” then “Virus and threat protection.”
  3. Open the antivirus and firewall apps you have installed and temporarily deactivate them.
  4. To deactivate your VPN on Windows, open “Settings” and then click “Network and internet.”
  5. Click on “VPN” on the left-hand side.
  6. Click on your current VPN and then click “Disconnect.”

To deactivate your firewall on a Mac, open up “System preferences” in the Apple menu. Then select “Privacy and security.” Click “Firewall.” Then, turn the firewall off.

After deactivating your antivirus software, firewall, and VPN, try to open the website you were attempting to access. If you still get the “DNS server not responding” error message, reactivate your security measures and try a different option.

9. Restart your PC in safe mode

If you’ve tried several other methods and still get a DNS error message, restart your computer in safe mode. Using safe mode helps you eliminate possible reasons why you’re receiving the DNS error message.

Accessing safe mode on Windows

On a Windows computer, access safe mode:

  1. Open the “Start” menu, then click on the “Power” button.
  2. Hold down the “Shift” key while clicking “Restart.”
  3. Once the “Choose an option” window appears, click on “Troubleshoot” and then “Advanced options.”
  4. In the “Advanced options” menu, select “Startup settings,” then click “Restart.”
  5. After your computer restarts, a list of options will appear. Press the “F5” key to access “Safe mode with networking.”
  6. Try to open the website that you were previously trying to access.
  7. If you still get the DNS error message, you may have to start uninstalling newer applications and software. Uninstall these programs individually and try accessing the website again to pinpoint the issue.

Accessing safe mode on macOS

To use safe mode on a Mac, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Apple menu and click on “Shut down.”
  2. Wait approximately 10 seconds, then turn your Mac back on while pressing and holding the “Shift” key.
  3. When the login screen reappears, you’ll be in safe mode. Try accessing the website again.
  4. If the DNS error message doesn’t reappear, a piece of software will probably be causing the issue. You’ll need to uninstall newer applications from your Mac. Do this until the DNS error message no longer appears when you try accessing the web page.

Why do you get the “DNS server not responding” error?

The “DNS server not responding” error appears when the DNS server doesn’t match a domain name to a website’s IP address. There are various reasons for this, so let’s take a look at some of the more common ones:

  • Network connectivity issues. If your computer has problems connecting to the internet, you’ll likely receive DNS error messages. Network connectivity issues are often caused by a poor signal or incorrect network or server settings. Troubleshooting your network connection or restarting your internet router should solve these issues.
  • Hardware issues. You may receive a DNS error message if there’s a problem with some of the hardware connected to your computer. The most common culprits are modems, network adapters, and routers. Testing and changing these connections should fix the issue.
  • Interference from antivirus software. Although antivirus software, firewalls, and VPNs keep your computer safe, they occasionally cause issues elsewhere. Extremely strict security measures may stop the vital communications between your device and the DNS server. Temporarily deactivating these security measures may solve the problem.
  • Incorrect DNS records. You may get an error message if the DNS server address for a website is incorrect. If a website’s IP address changes, the accompanying DNS server address must also be updated. However, if the new IP address was entered incorrectly, or hasn’t been updated in the DNS server, it won’t be able to find the right domain name.
  • DNS server outages. Most DNS problems occur on the user’s end. However, sometimes, DNS servers may experience a temporary outage. This outage may happen due to high traffic or a technical fault. With their device unable to access a DNS server, users won’t be able to access the websites they want.