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14 useful and FREE online tools for DNS and network troubleshooting

When troubleshooting network or DNS problems related to your website, server or other online services, it can be very useful to have access to online tools that can help you narrow down the problems. This article contains 14 useful online tools that can help you with this. And they are all free.

Different network and DNS tools

We will go through five categories of functionality, covering tools that let you:

  • Perform DNS lookups
  • Perform tests on DNS settings (DNS health)
  • Get information about an IP address
  • Test network connectivity
  • View status of networks on the Internet

Later in the article we will also list all the services separately, together with brief information about each one.

Many of the tools we mention fall within several of the categories we have specified, while others are more specialized and narrow in focus. We have done our best to pick tools that are truly useful. We actually use several of these tools from time to time ourselves here at Pingdom when we are helping customers troubleshoot website issues.

So let’s get started.

DNS lookups

Tools in this category allow you to perform DNS lookups, usually specific DNS records. Even though you can do these things from your own computers with Dig and Nslookup, it can often be useful to be able to perform DNS lookups from different locations to verify consistent DNS behavior and settings.

List of tools: DNSstuff, Serversniff.net, AjaxUtils.com, Webmaster Toolkit, IPtools.com, DNSgoodies.com, How is my DNS?, Ajax DNS, MyDNStools.info.

DNS health tests

These tests will look at the DNS settings for a domain name and its authoritative DNS servers and flag anything they consider a problem or potential problem. They can be very useful if you are having DNS-related problems that are hard to track down.

List of tools: IntoDNS, Serversniff.net, How is my DNS?, CheckDNS.net.

IP information

Sometimes it can be useful to get more information about an IP address, for example to see where it is hosted. The most common tool here is IP WHOIS, which is similar to a domain WHOIS but with information regarding who owns an IP address (often an ISP or data center).

List of tools: Serversniff.net, DNSstuff, AjaxUtils.com, Webmaster Toolkit, IPtools.com, DNSgoodies.com, Ajax DNS, MyDNStools.info.

Network tests

Basic network connectivity tests can be useful to do from different locations to help you narrow down a problem. For that reason it’s useful to have access to several different services that can perform ping and traceroutes (we can assume they all use different servers).

List of tools: DNSstuff, Serversniff.net, AjaxUtils.com, Webmaster Toolkit, IPtools.com, DNSgoodies.com, Pingdom Tools, Ajax DNS, MyDNStools.info.

Network status

Some sites provide continuously updated reports on the status of networks and servers. Here are two that you might find useful. Since what they provide is a bit different, we have given them a brief explanation. You can also read more further down in this article.

List of tools: Internet Health Report (connectivity status between different ISPs), Netcraft (uptime for a number of different websites and hosting providers).

Summary table

Online DNS and network tools and reports
Site DNS lookups DNS health IP info Network tests Network status
Serversniff.net X X X X
Internet Health Report X
Netcraft X
DNSstuff X (not free) X X
AjaxUtils.com X X X
Webmaster Toolkit X X
IPtools.com X X X
DNSgoodies.com X X X
How is my DNS? X X
CheckDNS.net X
Pingdom Tools X
Ajax DNS X X X
MyDNStools.info X X X
IntoDNS X

More about the tools

Here is an expanded explanation about the tools we included in this article. The best you can do, though, is to check them out yourself, play around with them, and bookmark the ones you feel are useful to you so you have them handy if you end up needing them.

  • Internet Health Report – This report from Keynote shows the status of peering connections between different ISPs and can be a good way to find out if there are general connectivity issues for a certain ISP.
  • Netcraft – Provides (among other things) an uptime report where you can look at the availability of a number of different websites and hosting providers.
  • Serversniff.net – Provides a very large number of tools related to networking, DNS and domain names.
  • DNSstuff – Probably the most well-known set of tools in this article. Has a wide variety of DNS, domain name and network-related tools. Also has a DNS health test, but that isn’t free.
  • AjaxUtils.com – Provides a small set of minimalistic, Ajax-driven DNS, domain name and network tools.
  • Webmaster Toolkit – Provides tools relating to DNS, domain names, networking and SEO.
  • IPtools.com – Similar in approach to DNSstuff, with a large set of tools related to DNS, domain names and networking.
  • DNSgoodies.com – Basic DNS and network tools.
  • How is my DNS? – As the name suggests, this tool focuses on DNS lookups and also has a DNS health test.
  • CheckDNS.net – Another dedicated DNS health test.
  • Pingdom Tools – A visual ping and traceroute tool from us here at Pingdom. Also includes a website load test.
  • Ajax DNS – A set of network and DNS tools.
  • MyDNStools.info – Provides a relatively large number of tools related to DNS and networking.
  • IntoDNS – A dedicated DNS health test with a good overview of the results.

Conclusion

The tools we have included range from the basic to the advanced. We wanted to give you a wide range of services to pick from and experiment with. Tastes differ, so while some for example prefer as much visual output as possible, others will prefer raw text output just as if they were sitting by a terminal. Also, as we pointed out earlier in the article, it is often useful to perform tests from more than one service (and by doing that from more than one location), so having access to several similar tools is a good thing.

We hope you found this article useful. If you feel we have missed a really good (free) network or DNS tool, please don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments.



5 comments
Bidone76
Bidone76

Hi, good list of dns healt tools, but probably you forget http://www.dnsqueries.com Actually they have a good dns health check, a dns traversal tool, a rbl check and a few other tools. I use it and is ok! Regards Bid

Neddy
Neddy

Hi all, was just going through some useful tools websites, and came across this page. May i add http://w3dt.net/ ? I work for an ISP, and use it almost every day to check things like dns, blacklists, traceroutes etc etc... It is quite fast and i have found it to be more reliable than bigpond's tools, mind you i am from Australia, and the Site comes from Australia also.

Paolo
Paolo

You probably forget www.alphapatrol.com! There is a lot of very usefull tools I use very often