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How To Use dig To Test Your DNS Records

April 2, 2023 | By David Selden-Treiman | Filed in: DNS.


Hey there! If you’re working with websites or internet services, you’ve probably come across the term “DNS” before. DNS stands for Domain Name System, and it’s a fundamental component of how the internet functions. Essentially, it’s the phonebook of the internet, translating human-friendly domain names like “” into IP addresses that computers use to identify each other.

Testing and validating DNS records is essential for ensuring that your website or service is accessible and functioning properly. One of the best tools for doing this is the “dig” utility. Dig, short for Domain Information Groper, is a powerful command-line tool that allows you to query DNS servers and retrieve valuable information about your DNS records. It’s available on various platforms, including Linux, Windows, and MacOS.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the installation and usage of the dig utility, providing examples for each step along the way. By the end, you’ll be well-equipped to test your DNS records and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. Let’s get started!

Installation of dig

Great! Now that you’re familiar with the basics of DNS and the dig utility, let’s move on to installing dig on your system. The installation process varies depending on your operating system, so follow the steps that correspond to your platform.


If you’re using a Linux-based system, the installation process depends on the specific distribution you’re using. Here’s how you can install dig on some popular Linux distributions:

Debian-based distributions (like Ubuntu and Debian)

For Debian-based systems, you can use the apt-get package manager to install the dnsutils package, which includes the dig utility. Simply open a terminal and run the following command:

sudo apt-get install dnsutils

RHEL-based distributions (such as Fedora, CentOS, and RHEL)

If you’re on a RHEL-based system, use the yum package manager to install the bind-utils package, which contains dig. Just enter this command in your terminal:

sudo yum install bind-utils

SUSE-based distributions (like OpenSUSE and SLES)

For SUSE-based distributions, you’ll want to use the zypper package manager to install bind-utils. Type the following command in your terminal:

sudo zypper install bind-utils


For Windows users, the process is slightly different. You’ll need to download the BIND package for Windows, which includes the dig utility. Here’s how:

  1. Visit the ISC website and download the BIND package for Windows.
  2. Once downloaded, extract the contents of the zip file to a folder on your system.
  3. To use dig from the command prompt, you’ll need to add the extracted folder to your system’s PATH variable. You can find instructions on how to do this here.


For MacOS users, the easiest way to install dig is by using the Homebrew package manager. If you don’t already have Homebrew installed, you can find the installation instructions at Once you have Homebrew set up, simply run the following command in your terminal to install the bind package, which includes dig:

brew install bind

And that’s it! You should now have the dig utility installed on your system, regardless of your operating system. In the next sections, we’ll explore how to use dig to test your DNS records with various commands and examples.

Basic dig Commands

Now that you’ve got dig installed on your system, it’s time to start testing your DNS records. Don’t worry; we’ll walk you through the process step by step. Dig has a variety of commands to help you retrieve information about your DNS records. Let’s begin with some basic dig commands that you’ll find useful.

Query A Records (IPv4 Addresses)

To find the IPv4 address associated with a domain name, you’ll want to query its A record. Type the following command in your terminal or command prompt, replacing “” with your domain name:

dig A

Query AAAA Records (IPv6 Addresses)

If you need to retrieve the IPv6 address of a domain, query its AAAA record using the following command:

dig AAAA

Query MX Records (Mail Exchange Servers)

To find the mail exchange servers associated with a domain, which are responsible for handling email delivery, query its MX records with this command:

dig MX

Query NS Records (Name Servers)

To identify the name servers responsible for managing the DNS records of a domain, use this command to query its NS records:

dig NS

Query CNAME Records (Canonical Name)

If a domain has a CNAME record, it means that it’s an alias for another domain. You can find the target domain by querying the CNAME record like this:


Query TXT Records (Text Records)

TXT records are used for various purposes, such as verifying domain ownership or providing SPF information for email validation. Use the following command to query a domain’s TXT records:

dig TXT

Query SOA records (Start of Authority)

The SOA record provides information about the authoritative DNS server for a domain and some essential configuration details. You can retrieve this information using this command:

dig SOA

These are just the basic dig commands to get you started with querying your DNS records. In the next section, we’ll delve into some advanced dig commands that offer more functionality and control over your DNS testing.

Advanced dig Commands

You’re doing great! Now that you’ve got the hang of the basic dig commands, let’s dive into some advanced options that will give you even more control over your DNS testing. These commands can be combined with the basic commands to refine your queries and get the specific information you need.

Specify a Custom DNS Server

If you want to query a specific DNS server instead of the default one your system uses, you can do so by specifying the server’s IP address with the “@” symbol. For example, to query Google’s DNS server (, use the following command:

dig @

Set Query Timeout

Sometimes, you may want to limit the amount of time dig spends waiting for a response from a DNS server. You can set a custom timeout (in seconds) using the “+time” option. Here’s an example with a 5-second timeout:

dig +time=5

Perform Reverse DNS Lookup

Reverse DNS lookups let you find the domain name associated with a given IP address. To perform a reverse lookup, use the “-x” flag followed by the IP address:


Enable Trace Mode

Trace mode allows you to see the entire path a DNS query takes, which can be helpful for identifying issues in the DNS hierarchy. To enable trace mode, use the “+trace” option:

dig +trace

Display Only the Answer Section

If you want a more concise output that shows only the answer section of the DNS response, use the “+short” option:

dig +short

Change Query Type Using the ANY Flag

The ANY flag allows you to retrieve all available DNS records for a domain in a single query. Keep in mind that some DNS servers may not support this query type. To use the ANY flag, simply type:

dig ANY

With these advanced dig commands under your belt, you’re well-equipped to test and troubleshoot your DNS records like a pro. In the next section, we’ll discuss how to use dig for troubleshooting common DNS issues.

Troubleshooting DNS Issues Using dig

You’ve made it this far, and now you’re ready to tackle DNS issues head-on! Dig is a fantastic tool for diagnosing and resolving common DNS problems. In this section, we’ll cover some typical scenarios where dig can come in handy for troubleshooting.

DNS Propagation Check

When you make changes to your DNS records, it can take some time for those updates to propagate across the internet. With dig, you can check the status of your DNS propagation by querying different DNS servers. For example, you can compare the results from Google’s DNS server ( and Cloudflare’s DNS server (

dig @
dig @

DNS Server Response Time Comparison

If you’re experiencing slow DNS resolution times, you can use dig to compare the response times of different DNS servers. The “Query time” field in the dig output shows how long it took for the server to respond. By testing multiple servers, you can identify if the issue is with your DNS provider or your local network.

dig @
dig @

Checking DNS Records Consistency

To ensure that all your name servers have consistent DNS records, you can query each name server individually using dig. First, use the following command to retrieve your domain’s name servers:

dig NS

Then, for each name server returned, query the specific DNS records you want to check:

dig A
dig A

Identifying DNS Server Misconfiguration

If you suspect a misconfiguration in your DNS settings, you can use dig to retrieve various DNS records and identify inconsistencies or errors. For example, you can check if your domain’s A record points to the correct IP address, or if your MX records are properly set up for email delivery.

dig A
dig MX

Testing DNSSEC Validation

DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) is a security protocol that helps protect against DNS spoofing and other attacks. You can use dig to test if your domain has valid DNSSEC signatures. To do this, append the “+dnssec” option to your dig command:

dig A +dnssec

If DNSSEC is correctly configured, you should see an “RRSIG” record in the output.

By using dig to troubleshoot these common DNS issues, you can quickly identify and resolve problems with your domain’s DNS configuration. Keep practicing with dig, and you’ll become a DNS troubleshooting expert in no time!


You’ve come a long way in mastering the dig utility! By now, you should be well-equipped to use dig for testing and troubleshooting your DNS records across Linux, Windows, and MacOS platforms. You’ve learned how to install dig, use basic and advanced commands, and apply those skills to resolve common DNS issues.

As you continue to work with DNS and dig, you’ll gain more confidence and experience in managing your domain’s DNS records effectively. Keep practicing and experimenting with the different dig options to truly become an expert in DNS server administration.

Remember, dig is an invaluable tool for keeping your website or internet services running smoothly. Don’t hesitate to turn to dig whenever you need to verify, troubleshoot, or diagnose DNS-related issues. Good luck, and happy digging!

David Selden-Treiman, Director of Operations at Potent Pages.

David Selden-Treiman is Director of Operations and a project manager at Potent Pages. He specializes in custom web crawler development, website optimization, server management, web application development, and custom programming. Working at Potent Pages since 2012 and programming since 2003, David has extensive expertise solving problems using programming for dozens of clients. He also has extensive experience managing and optimizing servers, managing dozens of servers for both Potent Pages and other clients.


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