DNS monitoring is no less important than infrastructure monitoring. DNS monitoring allows you to see the quality of your connection between authoritative name servers and local recursive servers. Measuring the response time between these servers indicates the strength of your connection.
Monitoring DNS servers allow you to check for signs of poor performance like latency or even outright disconnections. Using a DNS server monitoring tool will allow you to see when your connection is failing you and enable you to step in. In particular, a DNS server monitoring tool with an alerts function will notify you if your connection is performing poorly. This is very useful for cutting down your manual workload.
Here is our list of the best DNS server monitoring and troubleshooting tools:
- SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor EDITOR’S CHOICE A combined server and applications monitor that also supervises cloud-based servers. This system includes specialized checks on DNS availability and operations. Available for Windows Server. Start a 30-day free trial.
- Site24x7 DNS Server Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) An online service that monitors IT infrastructure, applications, and user behavior on websites.
- Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL) An all-in-one monitor that includes network, server, and application monitors. Available for Windows Server.
- Datadog Network Performance Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) This package is delivered from a SaaS platform with local agents installed on your network. Its services include DNS server monitoring and network device health checks.
- Atera A system monitoring and management platform designed for use by MSPs. It monitors all services operating on a client site, including DNS servers
- Dotcom-Monitor A network monitor with specialized DNS server monitoring.
- Nagios XI An extensible network monitoring system that includes DNS server monitoring tools.
- ManageEngine Applications Manager This is part of a suite of infrastructure monitoring tools. It monitors servers as well as applications and includes DNS supervision modules.
- UpTrends A DNS monitoring tool with alert escalation.
- ThousandEyes A specialized DNS monitoring system.
- AppDynamics A customizable infrastructure monitor that includes server and application monitoring.
- NewRelic Application Performance Monitoring Monitors a long list of applications including DNS servers.
The best DNS server monitoring and troubleshooting tools
In this article, we’re going to show you the best DNS server monitoring tools on the market.
Our methodology for selecting a DNS server troubleshooting tool for your network
We reviewed the market for DNS server monitoring systems and analyzed tools based on the following criteria:
- A live monitor for all DNS transactions
- Root cause tracing
- DNS throughput monitoring and alerting
- DNS server availability tests
- Historical analysis functions
- A free trial or a demo system that lets you assess the tool without payment committing to it
- Good value for money from a system that offers a wide range of functions for a fair price
With these selection criteria in mind, we looked for constant monitoring systems for DNS servers that also offer tools to fix problems quickly.
1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor which includes the DNS Monitoring and Server Performance Management tool is one of the most popular server monitors available right now, but it is also known to deliver a top-of-the-range DNS monitoring experience as well. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor not only tests the performance of your connection but the health of your hardware as well. When testing your connection you can analyze how fast a DNS server responds to a record query.
- DNS server availability tests
- Response time measurements
- Performance alerts
- DNS query throughput tracking
- Broader application and server monitoring
The program analyzes the speed by assessing how fast the server responds to a record query and compares the response against a list of IP addresses. If the response time is lagging behind other IP addresses then the program flags that there is a problem. You don’t have to do everything manually either as SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor will notify you when a DNS server receives an unusually high number of requests. This allows you to take action quickly even when you’re not at your desk.
Hardware health is another area where SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor delivers a refreshing monitoring experience. You can view the health of servers based on elements such as status, CPU, battery, power, temperature, and fan speed. This is all color-coded so that if a server is experiencing difficulties it will be denoted with a Warning tag.
- Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps and inventory lists in real-time based on devices that enter the network
- Multiple integrations for alerting and scripted remediation
- Can monitor multiple services and applications including DNS
- Uses drag and drop widgets to customize the look and feel of the dashboard
- Tons of preconfigured templates, reports, and dashboard views
- This is a feature-rich enterprise tool designed for sysadmin, non-technical users may some features overwhelming
Whether you’re an SME or a large organization, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is a program you should definitely consider. It mixes a simple user interface with some of the cleanest DNS monitoring abilities you’ll see. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is available from a starting price of $2,995 (£2,320). If you’d like to try the program out first you can do so by downloading the 30-day free trial.
SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is our top pick for a DNS server monitoring and troubleshooting tool because it includes DNS monitoring in with a wide range of application and server monitoring capabilities. This extensive list of capabilities creates value for money because it doesn’t just offer DNS troubleshooting. The system creates a service dependency map so you can get to the underlying problems quickly when issues arise. The monitor also includes an alerting mechanism to bring you back to the dashboard if things go wrong.
Download: Download 30-day FREE Trial
Official Site: https://www.solarwinds.com/server-application-monitor/registration
OS: Windows Server 2012 R2 or later
2. Site24x7 DNS Server Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)
DNS errors out on the internet will prevent the world from accessing your website. Even if you pump money into an advertising campaign that gets your URL known, if that web address isn’t properly configured in the global DNS system, your website will be effectively blocked. The DNS monitoring system in Site24×7 alerts your technical staff to misconfigurations in the Domain Name System.
- Runs from a cloud platform
- Local and internet DNS monitoring
- Availability checks
- Performance alerts
The first step in fixing a problem is knowing that the problem exists. The Site24x7 service is able to check access to your website from more than 90 locations around the world. The system doesn’t just check that your site is visible to every corner of the globe, but why it can’t be reached when there appears to be an outage. The DNS monitor is just one of many different checks that the Site24x7 outage monitor performs.
The DNS checks run continuously and raises an alert when a DNS-based fault makes it impossible to reach your site. The altering system means that your technicians don’t need to watch the monitoring dashboard constantly because those notifications can be forwarded by email or SMS. Technical staff can perform other tasks and switch attention to the DNS only when problems arise.
- One of the most holistic monitoring tools available, supporting networks, infrastructure, and real user monitoring in a single platform
- Uses real-time data to discover devices and build charts, network maps, and inventory reports
- Easy to use without spending a lot of time customizing
- Can monitor servers, devices, and applications with set custom SLAs
- Supports a freeware version, a great option for smaller businesses
- Is a very detailed platform that will require time to fully learn all of its features and options
Companies that only need to monitor up to five websites or servers can use Site24x7 for free. For larger requirements, monitoring 10, 40, 100, or 500 sites can all be met by the four paid editions of the service. Each of those editions can be accessed for free on a 30-day trial.
3. Paessler PRTG Network Monitor (FREE TRIAL)
Anyone familiar with network monitoring is going to be familiar with Paessler’s PRTG Network Monitor, a tool that also provides a high-functioning DNS monitoring experience. The experience has been designed specifically to check the availability and performance of DNS servers. To make monitoring easier, PRTG Network Monitor has a dedicated DNS sensor and runs DNS monitoring automatically in the background.
- DNS server availability
- Live and historical data
- Response times
On the DNS sensor you can view an overview of your live or historic data. The DNS query response time is shown on a color-coded dial that is easy to read. Historic data can be viewed over the past 2 days, 30 days, or 365 days. The information included within the sensor provides you with the basics needed to assess what is going on and stay positioned appropriately.
Keeping the user experience as convenient as possible, PRTG Network Monitor also comes with an alerts system. Users can receive alerts via email, SMS, or push notifications. This reduces the need to focus on the screen and try to catch every small change. PRTG Network Monitor will do this for you and much more accurately than you could ever achieve yourself.
- Uses a combination of packet sniffing, WMI, and SNMP to report network performance as well as discover new devices
- Autodiscovery reflects the latest inventory changes almost instantaneously
- Drag and drop editor makes it easy to build custom views and reports
- Supports a wide range of alert mediums such as SMS, email, and third-party integration
- Supports a freeware version
- Is a very comprehensive platform with many features and moving parts that require time to learn
- Custom sensors can sometimes be challenging to manually configure
Overall PRTG Network Monitor is a product that is suitable for enterprises of all sizes that want a DNS monitoring experience with a premium user interface. This product works on a sensor-based pricing model. If you require less than 100 sensors then you can download PRTG for free. However, if you need more you’ll have to purchase 500 sensors for $1600 (£1,240). There are a number of other pricing options available until you reach the larger versions with 5000 sensors for $10500 (£8,138) and unlimited servers for $14500 (£11,239). You can evaluate PRTG Network Monitor on a 30-day free trial.
4. Datadog Network Performance Monitoring (FREE TRIAL)
Datadog Network Performance Monitoring is a package of network monitoring services that are delivered from the Cloud. This system, therefore, is not contained by the network that hosts it and a subscription to this service can monitor remote networks, enabling multi-site businesses to centralize the supervision of all of their systems.
- Cloud-based monitor
- Monitors network and internet DNS availability
- Centralizes monitoring for hybrid systems
The Network Performance Monitor includes DNS server monitoring along with a range of other services that will help you keep your network running at peak performance. The DNS server monitor offers a number of system performance visualization options. These arrive pre-configured in a specific screen in the network monitoring dashboard but you can customize that console and change the way it shows live data.
The console is hosted in the Cloud so it can be accessed from anywhere with any standard Web browser. The tool also includes a series of alerts, which you can choose to activate. The alerts automate DNS server monitoring because they can be set to forward notifications via email or Slack message so network administrators can get on with other tasks, knowing that they will be informed if problems start to develop.
The DNS server monitoring system can be used to track the operations of other equipment and services on your network. For example, you can use it to configure load balancers and monitor their load. It is also possible to use the Datadog system to validate external DNS systems.
- Integrated into system-wide network monitoring services
- Includes live DNS request volume monitoring
- Offers alerts with automated notifications
- Customizable Web-based dashboard
- Requires a reliable connection to the internet from the network
Datadog Network Performance Monitor is one of a series of monitoring packages offered on the Datadog platform. It is a subscription service and you can slot different Datadog packages together. For example, there is also a Network Device Monitoring package available. The service is paid for by subscription and Datadog offers all of its modules on a 14-day free trial.
Atera is a system monitor that enables managed service providers (MSPs) to remotely support the networks, servers, and applications operating on the sites of their clients. The application monitoring capabilities of this software include the supervision of DNS servers.
- Good for MSPs
- Remote monitoring for multiple sites
- Alerts for performance problems
The Atera platform is a remote monitoring and management (RMM) system. It is a bundle of utilities that enables a team of technicians to oversee all the technical infrastructure of a client’s site. However, the MSP itself doesn’t need to run its own servers or maintain software on its site because Atera is delivered from the cloud. Its system console is accessible over an internet connection through any standard web browser. The company also produces an app that lets technicians see the dashboard from mobile devices.
The DNS server of a client site is a process, like any other, running on a host on the site. The Atera system enables MSP technicians to access that server remotely and check on the statuses of all of its running processes, including the DNS server. The technician can stop and restart the DNS server process should its functions hang or if it loses its thread. The combination of different monitors is also able to spot server or network problems that might be blocking the DNS server from communicating successfully with other hosts on the network.
- Minimalistic interface makes it easy to view the metrics that matter most
- Flexible pricing model makes it a viable option for small businesses
- Includes multiple PSA features, great for helpdesk teams and growing MSPs
- Can track SLAs and includes a time tracking option for maintenance tasks
- Lacks automated remediation features found in similar tools
- The ticketing system can be confusing to set up, better out of the box templates would be a nice addition
- Lacks Azure AD support/integration
Atera is charged for by subscription with fees calculated per technician per month. There is also a yearly rate, which works out cheaper. The platform is available in three editions: Pro, Growth, and Power. You can get a 30-day free trial of any of these versions to test it out before committing money to the service.
Dotcom-Monitor is a network monitoring tool that has made waves as one of the simplest DNS monitoring tools on the market. This program works by assessing request times and instantly responding with a DNS trace and an alert if a problem is found. The DNS trace shows the full path of the connection including details like Resolving Host, Duration, Start Time, Addresses, and Aliases.
- Assesses DNS server response times
- Traces activity on problem servers
- Alerts for DNS server failure
If you’re not around to see this DNS trace first hand then you’ll still be able to receive the alert. The alert will show you what the problem is and provide you with links to view the trace straight from the alert window. This allows you to jump back into running damage control or changing configurations because you don’t need to waste time finding out what the problem was.
One of the most impressive aspects of Dotcom-Monitor is how many different types of records are supported. A, AAAA, NS, CNAME, SOA, TXT, MX, PTR, and SPF are all record types supported by Dotcom-Monitor. The diversity of record types helps immensely when it comes to troubleshooting because you have much more information to work with.
- Monitorings website traffic as well as its supporting infrastructure
- Great alert templates, highly customizable
- Can monitor page load speeds and alert to SLA breaches
- Reports can be time-consuming and difficult to set up
- Price is high compared to other tools in the market
There are multiple pricing options available for Dotcom-Monitor. There are four basic packages available, each with their own individual pricing ranges based on check frequency, targets, pages, or steps. The most relevant basic package for DNS Monitoring is the Server Monitoring package. This starts with 10 targets and a 15-minute check frequency for $16 (£12.40) a month. You can customize your requirements as needed but for 50 targets with a five-minute check frequency, the price is $50 (£38.75) per month. Finally, 100 targets with a one-minute check frequency is $120 per month (£92.99). You can also download the 30-day free trial.
7. Nagios XI
Nagios XI is a name that is synonymous with the network monitoring industry that also provides a fully-featured DNS monitoring experience as well. With Nagios XI you can monitor DNS servers, protocols, and queries. The process of doing this is very easy as you’re supported with the DNS Query Nagios XI Monitoring Wizard. This helps to eliminate any ambiguity during your monitoring.
- Monitors networks, servers, and applications
- Native DNS monitoring
- Plug-ins for extra DNS server performance supervision
The team behind Nagios XI has designed it to work well within fast-paced environments. In practice, this means near-immediate detection of network disruption and DNS hijacking. This gives you a mix of security and peace of mind because you can take action immediately to stop anything from adversely affecting your network performance.
One of the reasons why Nagios XI is so well known is on account of its plugins. Thankfully there are a number of plugins available for DNS monitoring. These include plugins such as Check DNS Replacement, Check DNS via PowerShell, check_dnsbl (blacklist), and check_dyndns_logon. Check DNS Via PowerShell was designed to allow users to check DNS status conveniently by using a PowerShell script.
- Plugins keep the base installation light, while still offering option features for those who want it
- Uses autodiscover to help save time and eliminate the need for manually hunting devices down
- Can monitor both internally as well as externally
- Generous 60-day trial
- Requires virtualization to run in a Windows operating system
- Pricing for the enterprise version is high when compared to leading products
- Reporting features could be made easier to use
Nagios XI is a program that delivers a DNS monitoring experience on par with any other tool on this list. It also carries a competitive price tag. Nagios XI starts from a price of $1,995 (£1,546) for the Standard Edition which includes configuration wizards, custom dashboards, and reporting.
The next version is the Enterprise Edition which can be purchased for $3,495 (£2,708) which adds capacity planning reports and scheduled reports to the mix as well. We recommend you go with the standard edition unless you want to use Nagios XI for your wider network monitoring as well. There is also a 60-day free trial.
8. ManageEngine Applications Manager
ManageEngine Applications Manager is a product that has executed the DNS monitoring experience almost flawlessly. Whether you’re looking for performance or availability monitoring for your DNS service you can do it with this platform. ManageEngine Applications Monitor provides you with metrics such as Response Time, Search Time, Record Available, Search Value Status, and Search field. This allows you to see the status of your DNS service loud and clear.
- Application dependency mapping
- Live and historical DNS server performance data
- Root cause analysis
All this information can be viewed with graphs and charts to provide further clarity. This is useful because if you’re dealing with a large volume of data, a graph helps you to pick up on the trends in a way that raw numbers don’t always do.
ManageEngine Applications Manager has its own alerts system that notifies you when certain behavior is recognized. The alerts system is threshold-based and you can set thresholds for your alerts so that you receive a notification when a parameter has been reached.
- Offers on-premise and cloud deployment options, giving companies more choices for install
- Can highlight interdependencies between applications to map out how performance issues can impact businesses operations
- Offers log monitoring to track metrics like memory usage, disk IO, and cache status, providing a holistic view into your database health
- Can automatically detect databases, server hardware, and devices for real-time asset management
- Can take time to fully explore all features and options available
ManageEngine Applications Manager is available in three editions: Free, Professional, and Enterprise. The Free version allows you to monitor up to five apps or servers. If this isn’t enough then you can purchase the Professional Edition. The Professional Edition starts at a price of $945 (£732) for 25 monitors and ends with 250 monitors for $7,195 (£5,576) on an annual subscription. The Enterprise Edition includes even more monitors ranging from $9,595 (£7,436) for 250 monitors to $83,995 (£65,099) for 5000 monitors. There is also a free trial available.
UpTrends is a DNS lookup tool that offers an excellent and cost-effective DNS monitoring experience. With UpTrends you can monitor key records such as A, AAAA, SOA, TXT, and MX. This platform also enables worldwide tests as the company has 184 regional checkpoints distributed throughout the globe. The advantage of this approach is that it identifies any regional problems before they make their way through your network.
- Cloud-based service
- DNS server availability checks
- Response time reporting
However, this tool is far from limited to the basic records. UpTrend also monitors SOA serial numbers to see when a DNS entry changes. This allows you to spot subtler changes that you’d miss if you were just checking the alphabet records.
This tool doesn’t scrimp on additional features like reports and alerts either. You can receive daily reports showing the status of your DNS service helping you to see if there are any problems. Similarly, alerts keep you notified in the event that something problematic is happening that needs you to take action.
- Web-based tool, does not require installation or onboarding
- Supports remote checks from multiple locations
- Offers service monitoring, including automatic escalation for DNS failures
- Uses data captured by real visitors to access performance and speed
- Can alert to multiple channels, including Slack
- The interface is a bit barebones, and could be made more user friendly
- Graphical reporting feels dated
UpTrends provides a sophisticated DNS monitoring experience. It is no surprise that names as grand as Microsoft, HP, and Volkswagen are making use of this product. Visit UpTrends to download.
The mysteriously named ThousandEyes is another product that gets DNS monitoring right. ThousandEyes has been designed with the principle of transparency kept firmly in mind. You can monitor everything from DNS caching servers to external providers. You can check the availability and resolution time of connected servers to assess the performance of your network.
- Tracks the DNS chain
- Checks on caching servers
- Alerts for outages
ThousandEyes has gone to great efforts to make the software as accessible to new users as possible. This is seen immediately through the onboard autodiscovery feature which links up to connected servers without the need for complex configurations.
In addition, ThousandEyes also has its own alerts system to keep you up-to-date on all current developments. You can generate alerts on the availability of your DNS and Record mappings. These alerts are customizable based on what you want to screen for and you can also export alerts as the need arises. This allows you to pass on alert information to other members of your team.
- Clean and easy to use interface, makes great use of visualizations
- Offers VoIP traffic simulation, excellent for replicating issues and capacity planning
- Designed to streamline the troubleshooting process
- Can monitor multi DNS services and servers
- Lacks integrations into other popular platforms
- More customization options in the dashboard and reporting section would be a welcomed change
ThousandEyes operates a usage-based pricing structure based on three factors: Test Units, Endpoints, and Devices. For DNS monitoring, the Test Units package makes the most sense. This provides you with a monitoring experience delivered from cloud and enterprise agents. However, you’ll need to request a quote in order to see a price tag. Alternatively, you can download a free trial.
AppDynamics is one of the most popular infrastructure monitoring platforms that money can buy right now. You can view a variety of servers to view for performance issues. The server monitoring has been set up so that you can start monitoring in a matter of minutes. The positive here is that you don’t have to spend time entering your own configurations before you can start.
- AI-based application monitoring
- Application dependency mapping
- Automated responses
This tool is convenient to use for server monitoring because it utilizes a hierarchical overview. The overview shows you all connected servers detailing server health. This allows you to assess the health of services at a glance. In the event that a performance issue is recognized, AppDynamics allows you to configure automated responses to address performance issues in their infancy. There are event alerts systems such as ServiceNow, PagerDuty, and JIRA integrated on board.
Overall, this is a product that is customizable in line with your needs. The user interface is one of the most scalable of its kind. The ability to view your infrastructure with such clarity allows you to develop a clear impression of what is going on almost instantaneously.
- Tailored for large-scale enterprise use
- Excellent dependency mapping and visualizations to help troubleshoot complex application systems
- Includes a free version
- Priced higher than similar tools on the market
- Can have a steep learning curve, could use more tutorials
- Deployment/onboarding can be complex
- Mobile app could use improvement
You need to contact AppDynamics in order to view a price tag, or you can download and trial the software.
12. NewRelic Application Performance Monitoring
NewRelic Application Performance Monitoring offers a compelling DNS monitoring experience from start to finish. With this DNS monitor, you can analyze the response time of your infrastructure to assess how well the service is performing. This information is rendered in a clear and color-coded graph that makes things easy to read. You can run regular DNS health checks to make sure that response times aren’t too high.
- Scheduled DNS health checks
- Availability testing
- Alerts for performance problems
There is also a flexible alerting system that is completely customizable. You can set your own thresholds for alerts that determine what behavior you receive an alert for. The result is an experience that incorporates automation and reduces your administrative burdens.
- Great visualization options for monitoring app performance
- Can integrate into hosted server solution such as Rackspace
- Uniquely offers built-in team collaboration features, great for NOC teams and developers
- Fairly steep learning curve when compared to similar tools
- Filters take time to configure
- Monitoring of cloud and microservices need improvements and support to monitor more metrics
- Alerting could use more customization options
- Interface could be simplified and made easier to use
The pricing structure of NewRelic Application Performance Monitoring is quite complex. The price you pay is impacted by your instance size, runtime, quantity, and the cloud services you want such as AWS, Google, Microsoft and Rackspace. There is also a free trial.
As you can see, all of the tools above can hold their own within a large enterprise environment. Based on the quality of the design and the depth of its DNS monitoring features, PRTG Network Monitor stands out as one of the best products on this list. It combines concise visual displays with a dedicated DNS sensor and an alerts system that keeps you in the loop round the clock.
However, if this doesn’t quite line up with your needs we’ve provided you with plenty of alternative tools to sink your teeth into. The most important thing is to pick a platform that aligns with your organization’s needs and your personal preferences. Another great choice is SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor. This product is excellent because it allows you to keep track of requests and response times to view performance with ease.
DNS Server FAQs
Why is DNS monitoring important?
DNS lies at the heart of your addressing system. If DNS is not kept up to date, applications running on your network that rely on hostnames rather than IP addresses will stop working. On the web, DNS is even more vital. Without correct DNS entries, your website ceases to exist.
What is the most popular DNS server software available?
The most widely used DNS server system is called BIND. The current version of this system is BIND 10 and it is open source. The BIND service is built into most versions of Unix and Linux.