What Does DNS Failure Mean?

Updated April 17, 2017

The Internet is supported with several databases and services that help the end user connect to websites. DNS is one of the principle technologies that allows the computer to manage the names of websites. Upon typing the address of the site into a Web browser, the browser will use the DNS to find its Internet address. DNS failure can cause problems concerning connecting to a specific web site.

DNS Overview

DNS stands for domain name system. The system is used to translate a computer's domain name into an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Websites use DNS so users can access the site by typing a simple address. Otherwise, the user would have to write the IP address, which is a complicated string of numbers. An organisation with a computer network or website will use at least one server to handle transforming the DNS into an IP address. The server contains a list of all the IP addresses on its network.

DNS Failure Reasons

Internet users experience a DNS failure when the server cannot convert the domain name into its corresponding IP address. The failure can occur on the website's personal network or server. In this case, the user must wait until the website fixes its servers. Users can also experience a DNS failure if their Internet service is off or disabled. A connection must be reestablished before accessing the Internet.


In the event that users have prolonged problems with their DNS servers, the HOSTS file may need to be checked. A HOSTS file is a computer file that is used to map a specific host name (also called a "URL") to an IP address. According to Computer World, "If your HOSTS file contains an incorrect or outdated listing, you won't be able to connect." To open the HOSTS file, click on the Notepad file called HOSTS located in "C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\Etc\HOSTS" on the computer. Some operating systems place the file in "C:\Winnt\System32\Drivers\HOSTS."

Adjust the Host Name

View the IP addresses and host names for the websites listed in the HOSTS file. If the host name has changed recently, this may be the reason why the DNS failed to convert the name to an IP address. Adjust the old host name to the new host name, and save the file. The computer should now be able to access the website.

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About the Author

Courtney Spratley is a professional writer of instructional articles specializing in social, accounting, technology and government-related topics. She holds a bachelor's degree in government from the University of Texas at Austin and is now pursuing a Master of Public Administration from the University of Houston.