The global domain name system makes extensive use of caching. This means that changes you make won't always be reflected immediately. 

DNS data can be cached at many levels and retrieved from various sources:

  • in the browser
  • by another application on your operating system
  • at the operating system level...
  • ... including manual configuration on your operating system
  • a server on your local network
  • your network router
  • your service provider
  • a DNS server you're using, that's sitting somewhere on the Internet

Every single one of these is capable of returning stale or incorrect data. Most of the time, all you need to do is wait a little longer for the data to be updated. However, this can be rather frustrating when you've made a change and want to see if it has worked!

Checking DNS values

Most operating systems provide command-line tools for checking DNS values. Favourites are nslookup, dig and host. For example:

➜   host aldryn.com

aldryn.com has address 52.29.95.42
aldryn.com has address 52.28.117.55
aldryn.com mail is handled by 1 aspmx.l.google.com.
aldryn.com mail is handled by 5 alt1.aspmx.l.google.com.
aldryn.com mail is handled by 5 alt2.aspmx.l.google.com.
aldryn.com mail is handled by 10 aspmx2.googlemail.com.
aldryn.com mail is handled by 10 aspmx3.googlemail.com.

This will tell you what data your operating system is reporting for that domain.

You can compare it with what other systems might be reporting by using an online lookup, such as Google's nslookup tool.

It's beyond the scope of this article to explain the intricacies of these tools, but there is plenty of information online.

Clearing DNS caches

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