Don‘t Fly Blind: 12 Essential DNS Monitoring Tools to Protect Your Online Presence

Imagine this: It‘s Black Friday, and your ecommerce site gets slammed with 4x its usual traffic. But suddenly, customers start getting weird errors when they try to access your domain. Sales grind to a halt. After some frantic digging, you realize your DNS servers have crashed under the load!

This DNS outage ends up costing you 17% of your annual revenue as customers flock to other sites that stayed operational. Not great.

Could proactive monitoring have saved the day? Let‘s explore that question now by examining why DNS deserves so much attention and survey tools to keep it running smoothly.

Why Stress Over DNS?

For the uninitiated, DNS (Domain Name System) is the backbone that connects memorable web URLs like to the underlying server IP addresses making them accessible. Much like a phonebook for the internet.

Small DNS hiccups and outages are surprisingly common, even among big tech brands. Back in 2022, both Amazon and Google Cloud DNS saw brief regional interruptions. In 2021, a Cloudflare DNS failure knocked popular services like Discord, DoorDash, and NordVPN offline temporarily.

While short-lived, these incidents impacted millions of users. And longer eventslasting hours can devastate business revenue. According to research by the International Institute of Business Analysis, the average cost of a single hour of DNS downtime exceeds $100,000 for 64% of firms. Yikes!

Outages only represent one facet of DNS risk. Improper DNS configurations, account hijacking attacks, traffic overload events, and spying/censoring via DNS manipulation all threaten online operations in 2023. A global survey by EfficientIP found that 75% of organizations suffered DNS security breaches averaging $973,000 per incident.

Clearly securing always-on DNS should be priority #1 for companies operating online properties. Now let‘s cover efficient tools to get that job done!

Core Capabilities Worth Monitoring

DNS management involves configuring zone records that map domain names to destination servers. Monitoring means continually validating everything works as intended. Key aspects to track include:

Availability – Ensure DNS servers stay accessible and resolve queries correctly from networks globally.

Performance – Slow DNS hampers website/app response times. Measure latency from diverse locations.

Correctness – Validate DNS returns proper IP addresses for your domains without unexpected alterations.

Security – Detect suspicious activity like flood attacks or unauthorized configuration changes.

Advanced monitoring solutions track these facets 24/7 and alert IT teams the moment deviations occur. Let‘s highlight top options across different environments and use cases now!

Top DNS Monitoring Tools

Tool Key Strengths Ideal For
SolarWinds® Pingdom 70+ global monitoring locations, DNS performance analytics Websites, web apps
DNS Spy DNS security scanning, change alerts Security-focus
ThousandEyes Huge enterprise scale, advanced analytics Multi-cloud environments
Dynatrace AI-powered, end-user experience correlation Massive digital ecosystems
Site24x7 Unified infrastructure + DNS monitoring Consolidated oversight
NeuStar UltraDNS Managed DNS provider, turnkey solution Outsourcing domain/DNS administration
DNSPerf Diagnostic performance testing Quantifying improvements

This table highlights top contenders focused on different specialties. Now let‘s dig deeper into 12 capable options with something for everyone!

1. SolarWinds® Pingdom – Top Performance Insights

Veteran IT monitoring firm SolarWinds enjoys widespread fame for its Pingdom solutions. Major customers include Apple, BMW, McDonald‘s, and other giants. 50 million tests daily across 70 regions position them as DNS leaders.

Pingdom tracks DNS reachability and page load performance affected by DNS speed. The free plan handles one URL check from three locations. Upgrading enables:

  • Custom API/webhook alerts
  • PageSpeed metrics pinpointing DNS impact
  • Uptime monitoring for unlimited servers
  • SMS and phone call notifications
  • Team collaboration functions

SolarWinds adds research resources like their 2022 web performance report with data from billions of tests. For easy DNS management alongside monitoring, Pingdom enables editing records directly.

2. DNS Spy – Configuration & Security Focus

DNS Spy keeps organisations secure through intensive monitoring to catch misconfigurations and block threats like hijacking or DDoS attacks. It scans your current DNS infrastructure automatically then continues monitoring settings and traffic 24/7.

After adding your domain, DNS Spy provides visibility like:

  • Misconfiguration warnings with fix guidance
  • Alerts when alterations signify credential abuse
  • Replay attacks revealing vulnerabilities
  • DNSSEC validation ensuring in-transit security
  • Recursive traffic insights across authoritative nameservers

For multi-domain oversight at scale, DNS Spy Pro adds single sign-on authentication, API integrations, custom alerts, and role-based access controls.

If staying on top of DNS security is your primary goal, DNS Spy has your back through proactive reconnaissance and ongoing surveillance.

3. ThousandEyes – Heavy-Duty Multi-Cloud Environments

ThousandEyes positions itself as an intelligent network analytics platform built for enormous scale, complexity, and criticality. Monitoring capabilities span web infrastructure, network gear, VoIP, endpoints, cloud services, and more.

Its DNS component tracks domain records, name server availability, and web traffic routing integrity across an extensive mesh of vantage points resembling its Internet Intelligence Map:

ThousandEyes Global Monitoring Nodes

With nodes deployed across 180+ PoPs inside ISP networks plus enterprise datacenters and cloud environments, few visibility gaps exist. Agents installed locally on endpoints also aid troubleshooting.

While overkill for many single-site situations, ThousandEyes shines for teams juggling hybrid/multi-cloud architecture or distributed applications needing unified monitoring. Integrations with infrastructure management platforms like Splunk reduce manual analysis overhead further.

4. Dynatrace – Top-Shelf User Experience Focus

Expanding beyond its roots resolving application performance issues, Dynatrace now provides an AI-powered cloud ecosystem management module dubbed Davis AIOps. It ingests massive telemetry volumes automatically detecting, prioritizing, and explaining infrastructure/service degradations.

DNS tracking provides deep visibility into traffic patterns, query errors/failures, cache performance, security threats, and configuration correctness. But Dynatrace‘s ace card is correlating DNS behavior directly to customer web experiences via:

  • Contextual session replay showing DNS failure points
  • User impact scoring from Apdex satisfaction metrics
  • Journey heartbeats tracing cross-service processes

Pricing scales based on volume ingested from the sprawling environments Dynatrace targets – massive multi-cloud setups with intricate dependencies and endless telemetry. But for large digital presences demanding robust monitoring, Dynatrace is proven.

5. Site24x7 – Consolidated Infrastructure Insights

Site24x7 monitor IMF comes from Zoho Corp supporting integrated oversight of diverse infrastructure:

  • Servers and virtual machines
  • Cloud platforms like AWS and Azure
  • Containers and serverless apps
  • Websites and web applications
  • DNS and other network services

Admins gain unified visibility through the centralized dashboard instead of toggling across specialized tools. Specific DNS monitoring capabilities include:

  • World map displaying DNS response time by geography
  • Query failure and timeout tracking
  • Caching efficiency and network latency metrics
  • Threshold-based alerts triggered by anomalies

While not matching specialized DNS tools for security recon capabilities, Site24x7 provides broader performance baseline history leveraging its consolidated infrastructure telemetry.

6. NeuStar UltraDNS – Premium Managed Provider

Moving beyond self-service monitoring tools, Neustar UltraDNS offers an elite managed solution for enterprise DNS needs across monitoring, security, performance, and compliance domains.

They own and operate a mammoth Anycast network reaching 99.999% of internet destinations within 50 milliseconds. DDoS mitigation, DNSSEC support, extensive caching, custom GSLB algorithms, and other proprietary technologies provide leading edge DNS capabilities.

For observability, UltraDNS tracking spans:

  • Usage volume patterns
  • Record change auditing
  • Anomaly detection exposing issues
  • Filtering identifying threats like bots
  • Visibility into global resolution speed

For organizations seeking a fully handled DNS environment with monitoring integration plus optimal responsiveness and security built-in, UltraDNS warrants a close look. But buyers sacrificing control over infrastructure you manage directly.

7. Circonus – Metric Data Analytics Specialist

Circonus focuses on stream handling and metrics analysis for SaaS platforms and other complex environments processing high volumes of machine data. They handle ingestion, visualization, anomaly detection, forecasting, and management automation based on telemetry patterns.

Specifically for DNS, Circonus tracks availability, query performance, traffic volumes, errors, security events, and configuration data around your domains. Features like automated baselining and machine learning algorithms spotlight anomalies suggesting potential DNS issues.

While DNS constitutes a small use case for Circonus relative to its broader infrastructure analytics capabilities, teams needing custom insights from DNS metrics at scale find great value in mining their data further.

8. DNSPerf – Dedicated Diagnostic Testing

Network toolmaker SolarWinds strikes again with DNSPerf. Unlike the performance-oriented Pingdom monitor, DNSPerf focuses solely on in-depth DNS server testing. It runs your target domain through diagnostic query sets to measure:

  • Lookup latency distribution
  • Bandwidth utilization
  • Packet loss and truncation
  • Zone transfer performance
  • Cache effectiveness
  • NXDOMAIN hijacking protection

DNSPerf renders results easily understood even by non-technical folks while still providing technical teams enough detail for meaningful performance benchmarking. It lacks change tracking and advanced alerting included with tools like DNS Spy but gives straightforward visibility into DNS speed and reliability.

9. GoDaddy DNS Manager – Bundled Domain Management

As one of the largest domain registrars globally, GoDaddy allows customers to monitor and manage DNS setup directly from their account dashboard. The integrated DNS Manager provides:

  • Intuitive editor to modify records
  • DNSSEC signing for enhanced security
  • Real-time record change monitoring
  • Zone file downloading
  • Collaboration tools for shared access

For those purchasing domains and web hosting services through GoDaddy already, using their native DNS Manager unifies management and oversight nicely. But it lacks more advanced capabilities like performance/usage tracking offered by standalone tools above.

10. Netcraft – Generous Free Service

Respected web technology provider Netcraft makes a free DNS monitoring tool quite capable for basic users. It allows:

  • Checking 5 domains without paying
  • 500k DNS queries monthly before upgrade needed
  • Notifications via email and web alerts
  • Worldwide monitoring regions for global DNS visibility

Upgrading to premium plans adds phone call/SMS alerts, API access, unlimited checks, and further history/metrics. The free offering gives a nice taste though suitable for many small site owners.

11. Control Tower by NS1

Rounding out the list, managed DNS provider NS1 bundles robust monitoring into its Control Tower solution alongside DNS traffic management and security capabilities.

NS1 customers gain built-in visibility into:

  • Real-time DNS traffic analytics
  • Query volumes by record type
  • Filtering to block security threats
  • Accelerated health checks via EdgePoPs
  • Response time breakdown across key metrics

Well-suited for buyers seeking an integrated DNS platform with oversight fully handled. But customers wanting standalone monitoring tools or preferring DNS providers like Cloudflare gain more flexibility combining best-of-breed options.

Survival Steps When Your Monitoring Fails

Even reliable DNS monitors can miss serious problems or suffer their own outages at times. When crisis strikes unexpectedly, follow these steps to begin diagnosing and recovering:

1. Confirm outage – Try accessing your domain from networks globally to localize issues.

2. Review DNS configuration – Ensure your registrar has correct name servers listed, confirming with dig web query tool.

3. Check alerts – Monitor error notifications indicating outages or traffic overload.

4. Inspect server logs – Your DNS hosting provider records forensic data for post-mortem analysis.

5. Failover to backups – Maintain alternate DNS server configurations and domain registrar accounts to quickly switch during disasters.

And regardless of your monitoring solution, also enact fundamental measures like distributed DNS infrastructure, proactive patching, access controls, and principles like zero trust. Combined with oversight tools, you significantly reduce both downtime likelihood and duration.

Don‘t Fly Blind!

DNS forms the foundation on which all online properties stand. Without consistent Domain Name System availability and security enabling reliable access to websites and applications via human-readable URLs, sustaining business operations becomes nearly impossible.

Hopefully this guide has illuminated capable tools for keeping your DNS infrastructure monitored 24/7/365 so issues get caught early before causing costly disruptions. Just remember even the best oversight solutions can‘t single-handedly guarantee 100% uptime. Combine monitoring with redundancy, failover processes, access controls, and ongoing best practice adoption for fully reliable DNS ops!

What DNS monitoring tools handle observability in your environments? Have you endured DNS failures causing losses before? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!