How to Fix DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN Error: 3 Easy Ways To Solve It

By Anthony·November 24, 2021·6 min read

Due to the distributed nature of the Internet, DNS errors are unsurprisingly common. They can happen regardless of which browser or device type you're using.

In this guide we'll explore what DNS is, why this error happens, and explore 3 possible solutions that work on macOS, Windows, iOS and Android.

What does it mean?

The DNS_PROBE_FINISHED_NXDOMAIN error means that your DNS setup failed to resolve the address you're trying to open in your browser. The NXDOMAIN part refers to Non-Existent Domain, meaning there were issues finding the IP-address for the domain name you requested.

DNS error on Chrome The DNS probe error as shown in Google Chrome.

Depending on your browser, you might also see a human friendly message shown, for example:

  • "The site can't be reached" in Google Chrome and Brave.
  • "Hmm. We're having trouble finding that site" in Firefox.
  • "Safari Can't Find the Server" in Safari.

Why does it happen?

There's several reasons why this error might happen, but let's explore some of the most common:

  • Your open system's DNS cache is outdated
  • Your DNS client is misconfigured
  • Your DNS server is unavailable
  • Your browser is misconfigured or caching DNS longer than expected
  • Your firewall or VPN is blocking the connection

Luckily, most of these situations can be fixed quickly and often even resolve on their own. For example, when your DNS cache is outdated, it's often just a matter of waiting a couple of minutes or hours until the records expire and are automatically refreshed.

How to fix it

Below you'll find three suggestions to fix this DNS error. The instructions have been tested on macOS, Windows 10, iOS and Android devices.

Solution #1: Change your DNS server

The specific DNS servers you are using can sometimes become unavailable, or cache outdated records. You can try a different DNS server, just make sure to use one that you trust.

Here's a few popular ones:

  • Cloudflare DNS: 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1
  • Google DNS: 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4
  • OpenDNS: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220

How to change your DNS server depends on which operating system you're using. Here's the instructions for the most common ones:

macOS

  • Go to System Preferences
  • Click on Network, then Advanced
  • Select the DNS tab
  • Replace any IP addresses listed with the ones of the DNS server you'd like to use (examples mentioned before)
  • Click OK and then Apply to save your changes

Windows 10

  • Go to the Start menu, then Settings
  • Go to Network and Internet, then click on Change Adapter Settings
  • Right-click on the network you're connected to and select Properties
  • Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (IPv4)
  • Go to Properties and click on Use The Following DNS Server Addresses
  • Replace any IP addresses listed with the ones of the DNS server you'd like to use (examples mentioned before)
  • Click OK to save your changes and Close

iOS

  • Go to Settings and then on Wi-Fi
  • Tap on the info icon ("i") next to the network you're connected to
  • Scroll down to Configure DNS and tap it
  • It should say Automatic by default, change it to Manual
  • Tap on Add Server
  • Add the IP addresses of the DNS server you'd like to use (examples mentioned before)
  • Tap Save, that's it!

Android

  • Go to your Settings and select Wi-Fi
  • Press and hold on the network you're connected to
  • Tap on Modify Network
  • Select Show Advanced Options
  • Set the IP Setting to Static
  • Replace any IP addresses listed with the ones of the DNS server you'd like to use (examples mentioned before)
  • Tap Save. You might need to reconnect to the network for the changes to take effect

Solution #2: Flush your DNS cache

macOS

  • Open your Terminal app (you can use Spotlight Search to find it, or you can also find it within the Applications > Utilities directory)
  • Type dscacheutil -flushcache and hit Return to execute the command
  • Your DNS cache has been cleared (don't worry there's no success message shown)

Windows 10

  • Go to Start and then type cmd
  • Right-click on Command Prompt and choose Run as Administrator
  • Type ipconfig /flushdns
  • Click on OK - you're DNS cache has been cleared

iOS

The easiest way to clear out the DNS cache on iOS is to toggle Airplane mode on and off:

  • Open Settings
  • Toggle Airplane mode on and off
  • That's it! You can now check if the issue has been resolved

You can also reset your network settings in case that didn't work for you:

  • Open Settings
  • Go to General and then Reset
  • Tap on Reset Network Settings and confirm (be careful - do not select any other form of reset!)
  • Wait for your device to reboot and check if the problem has been resolved

Android

  • Go to Settings, then Apps, and select the browser you're using
  • Select Storage
  • Tap on Clear Cache
  • Done! Try and see if the issue has been resolved

Solution #3: Disable your VPN

Consumer and corporate VPNs often have DNS caches that keep records longer than necessary. This often interferes with your regular web browsing, and might be worth checking if this is causing the DNS error you're experiencing.

Here's instructions on how to temporarily disable a VPN service on your device:

macOS

  • Go to System Preferences and then on Network
  • Select the VPN connection you're currently using from the panel
  • Click on Disconnect
  • Check if the issue has been resolved (you might need to reconnect to your network)

iOS

  • Go to your Settings and then General
  • Tap on VPN
  • Locate the VPN you're currently connected to, tap to toggle off

Windows 10

  • Go to the Start menu, then Settings
  • Click on Network and Internet, and then on VPN
  • Select the VPN you're currently connected to
  • Click on Disconnect

Android

  • Go to Settings, then Network and Internet
  • Select VPN
  • Locate the VPN you're currently connected to, tap to toggle off

What is DNS?

In plain words, the Domain Name System (DNS) is how your browser is able to translate a domain name (eg. google.com) into the IP-address of the nearest server that can reply to your request (eg. 123.123.123.123).

As you might imagine, this system needs to handle a very large amount of requests every second. After all, every single device in the world is using it in one way or another to communicate over the Internet.

To handle its inherent global scale, the system is distributed across thousands of servers around the world. It's a large network of DNS servers coordinating to resolve a given domain name into the correct IP-address for every publicly available website.

How to monitor for DNS problems on your website

As a website owner, it's often difficult to understand if you're often losing traffic due to DNS issues. Maybe the DNS servers you're using are not as reliable as you might hope, or they're misconfigured and causing issues for your end users.

At Panelbear, many of our customers requested we offer a way to monitor DNS issues on their websites. That's why we added this feature as part of our Real User Monitoring solution.

DNS monitoring DNS monitoring in Panelbear.

Our solution gives you real-time analytics about your website's end user performance. It's simple, and privacy-friendly out of the box: all data is anonymized by default and never sold to third parties for advertising purposes (or any reason at all). Furthermore, this data cannot be traced back to a person - not even by us. Giving you and your visitors peace of mind.

Our customers have been using it to understand how their websites perform under real world conditions, get alerted when something goes wrong, and quickly fix issues before it affects a large portion of their traffic.

You can try it out for free and ensure you're delivering a great experience on your website at all times.

Panelbear analytics charts

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