The DNS Doctor Will See You Now: 6 Must-Have Tools to Prevent and Treat DNS Disasters

Think your website is loading slowly lately? Users having trouble getting to your site or sending email? There‘s a good chance DNS is to blame.

As the largely invisible backbone that routes traffic for every website and internet-connected device, DNS issues tend to wreak havoc undetected…until your CEO can‘t access your corporate site during an important investor meeting. 😱

75% of organizations have dealt with DNS outages costing over $100,000 in the past year according to IDC Research. And websites lose a staggering $250,000 PER HOUR during DNS-related downtime per recent stats from ThousandEyes.

Beyond website availability, DNS misconfigurations open up dangerous security holes for exploits like DNS hijacking and cache poisoning attacks to leak sensitive data. Performance and user experience suffer from sluggish DNS lookups or propagation delays.

Clearly, every organization needs to take DNS health seriously. Take it from me, every seasoned IT pro keeps a close eye for early signs of DNS deterioration or misconfiguration. Catching minor glitches early prevents corrosive compound issues over the long run.

In this definitive guide, we’ll explore 6 versatile tools to monitor the vital signs of your DNS infrastructure and troubleshoot any festering issues before they become full-on, website-killing diseases:

An Ounce of DNS Monitoring Prevents Website Outage Pounds

Before diving into the tools, it helps to understand the most common DNS health issues that can plague websites big and small:

1. Connectivity Failures – Nameservers become unavailable, failing to respond to lookup requests. This prevents visitors from accessing your site.

2. Poor Performance – Latency spikes from DNS infrastructure degrades website load times. Queries take too long to return IP addresses.

3. Propagation Delays – DNS record changes don‘t propagate to caches globally for 24+ hours. Users receive stale, incorrect site/email data.

4. Misconfigurations – Simple typos or invalid changes trigger lookup failures and bounce email. Security best practices like DNSSEC omitted.

5. Expired Records – DNS entries expire from registries/zone files without renewal. Your domain essentially goes "dark" on the internet.

6. Security Vulnerabilities – DNS hijacking, spoofing, cache poisoning redirects visitors or siphons data through malicious sites.

Now let‘s explore 6 versatile DNS diagnostics tools to prevent and treat the DNS diseases above…

#1: DNS Spy – Comprehensive DNS Physical for Total Visibility

Think of DNS Spy as your full-service DNS monitoring specialist, giving your domains a physical across connectivity, performance, security, and record health.

DNS Spy‘s detailed reporting dashboard reveals exactly where DNS might be breaking bad in plain speak.

Granular checks include:

  • Connectivity: Nameserver reachability and response times
  • Performance: Lookup latency from multiple geographic regions
  • Security: Adoption of DNSSEC and other best practices
  • Record Validation: All DNS record types resolving properly

Sample alerts warn of issues like:

  • NXDOMAIN Errors – Record lookup failures
  • DNS Zone Transfer Failures
  • Excessive DNS Latency by Region
  • Invalid MX Records

For more continuous visibility, DNS Spy offers affordable paid plans starting around $9 per month to track DNS over time. This allows detecting short intermittent issues that one-off checks could miss.

Overall our #1 pick for full-spectrum DNS health insight from a specialized monitoring service purpose built around DNS.

#2: IntoDNS – Rapid DNS Sanity Checking

IntoDNS lives up to its name – getting you straight to the DNS layer when you suspect issues.

It runs sanity check validations on your:

  • Nameservers
  • Hostnames
  • Mail Servers
  • Zone records

And calls out misconfigurations like:

❌ Invalid nameservers
❌ Broken MX records
❌ Missing zone serial numbers

For valid configs, IntoDNS reports extra details like nameserver IPs and host CNAME/A duplications that can signal future troubles.

The simple, focused interface removes clutter to spotlight potential DNS vulnerabilities. Our top pick for manual spot checks after changes or during an incident response.

#3: MXToolbox – One-Stop DNS and Domain Health Validation

With over 300 website, email, network, and security checks, MXToolbox is a powerhouse performance clinic for total domain health.

Right from the main dashboard, you get red/yellow flag notifications of DNS issues including:

  • Nameserver failures
  • Reverse DNS problems
  • DNS propagation and caching errors
  • Blacklist status

Drilling down reveals in-depth lookups for:

  • Record timestamps
  • DNS plot analysis
  • Global propagation auditing
  • Mail flow testing

With so many offerings spanning DNS, email, network, and security, MXToolbox should be a regular health screening for mission-critical domains.

#4: dig – Advanced DNS Diagnostics from the Command Line

While GUI tools simplify DNS analysis for many, seasoned engineers often rely on dig for nitty gritty troubleshooting and forensics.

Dig is included on most UNIX/Linux platforms and lets you manually investigate DNS from the comfort of your terminal with advanced parameters.

Here are just some of the ways dig can help diagnose DNS outages:

  • Identify the last functioning nameserver
  • Localize DNS latency issues
  • Verify record propagation status
  • Trace email routing failures

With so many options available, dig can seem intimidating initially. But taking the time to learn 10-15 common queries will give you DNS superpowers no amount of clicking in GUIs can match!

#5: DNSChecker – One-Click Global DNS Propagation Testing

When making DNS infrastructure changes, a top priority is validating global propagation across the hundreds of DNS caches worldwide.

DNSChecker makes this easy with an extensive propagation checker highlighting lookup status across continents and major regions.

This geographical coverage reveals whether your end users can all resolve records fast and reliably.

Beyond propagation checks, DNSChecker provides utilities for inspecting:

  • DNS record types
  • Nameserver details
  • Blacklist status
  • Mail routing traceability

While the interface looks dated next to slick commercial suites, DNSChecker has delivered reliable DNS diagnostics since 1999. Recommended for simple propagation checks and backup auditing of DNS configs.

#6: Geekflare DNS Lookup – Rapid Record Verification

Among its security and speed-focused toolkit, Geekflare operates a handy DNS Lookup utility.

It generates a quick report summarizing the current status of all DNS record types including:

  • A
  • TXT
  • MX
  • NS

This delivers immense value when you need to instantly verify:

  • Successful DNS modifications
  • Record values during migrations
  • Alleged "DNS hacking" incidents

Geekflare DNS Lookup acts as a quick second set of eyes on your DNS health from an independent perspective when rapid insights matter most.

Don‘t Let DNS Deterioration Lead to Downtime Disasters!

I hope this guide gave you a headstart using the 6 tools above to protect your online assets and users from the site crashes, data leaks, and performance pains potentially lurking within DNS.

Remember, early detection of DNS distress signals pays dividends over time as you remediate issues prior to outages and keep services humming smoothly.

Here are a few key takeaways as you form proactive DNS monitoring habits:

✅ Use DNS Spy for continuous, full-spectrum health tracking of all record types

✅ Leverage IntoDNS to rapidly spot check configs after changes

✅ Run regular checkups with MXToolbox for holistic domain/email audit

✅ Master dig commands to troubleshoot obscure DNS issues

✅ Validate propagation with DNSChecker to guarantee global availability

✅ Verify records in seconds with Geekflare Lookup when you suspect foul play

Feel free to reach out via Twitter @myhandle if you have any other tips for keeping your DNS fit! Thanks for reading.