Debugging Slow DNS Rollouts


Ever launch a new website and run into DNS delays? Ever curious what’s happening under the hood? Let’s take a closer look and DNS updates and some tips for troubleshooting the DNS rollout process.

There are great – and not so great – DNS providers.

The difference between a good DNS rollout and bad one comes down to two factors, TTL and the quality of the DNS provider. TTL stands for time to live. Every DNS record has a TTL which tells everyone else how often to check for updates. Having a really long TTL, like greater then 4 hours, can cause a bumpy DNS rollout versus a 1 hour TTL. However, using a quality DNS provider is more important than TTL.

Common issues when updating records with Network Solutions.

Updating DNS records with Network Solutions has always been a hassle. Recently, I was involved with migrating a batch of 10+ WordPress sites to a new host provider and had to deal with Network Solution’s DNS updates. Using dig from the command line can give a greater insight as to what’s happening.

First use dig to locate the nameservers of website your migrating.

dig domain-name.tld ns +short
ns1.worldnic.com
ns2.worldnic.com

With the nameservers known, we can query directly to see which IPs the nameservers are returning.

dig @ns1.worldnic.com domain-name.tld a +short
xxx.xxx.xxx.123

dig @ns2.worldnic.com domain-name.tld a +short
xxx.xxx.xxx.235

A quality nameserver will internally update their records within a few seconds of making a DNS update. However at Network Solutions, the IPs returned from their internal nameservers will bounce between the new old and new IP address for about an hour. 😖

This bouncing around is not related to DNS propagation.

DNS propagation has to do with how DNS updates spread throughout the internet. A great place to track that progress is whatsmydns.net. Only until the internal records stop bouncing around can DNS propagation begin to roll out properly. 🛫

Use a paid DNS provider.

The bouncing around issues described above are completely solved by using a quality DNS provider. I personally use Constellix. It’s fast, reliable, and I highly recommend using them. Generally, when making DNS changes with Constellix, I can successfully install a Let’s Encrypt SSL, which uses DNS for verification, within a few minutes. Compare that to an unnecessary hour delay with Network Solutions, and other lower quality DNS providers.