Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

How can I test if my forward lookups are working on my windows server 2003 machine and where do you specify the forward dns server addresses?

I suspect it is not working as I set up a workstation with a static ip and typed in that server's address as the sole dns server. DNS lookups all failed, for example if I typed "ping" it would not resolve. As soon as I put in a secondary dns server (an outside machine) it resolves fine.

I am guessing the server is not properly set up with forward lookup servers (hopefully that is the correct term).

So, where do those normally get entered in the Microsoft DNS management console and how would I test that it is / is not working?

share|improve this question
You are conflating two different things that just happen to have the word "forward" in their names. – JdeBP Jul 22 '11 at 15:43

I'm not 100% sure that this is what you're looking for, but it's an excellent guide for correctly setting up Windows Server 2003 with the DNS Server Role.

Server 2003 DNS Configuration Guide

Good luck!

share|improve this answer

To set up DNS forwarders, open the DNS MMC, right-click on the server in question and select Properties, then the Forwarders tab. You can use the DNS servers from your ISP, or I usually just use a few of Verizon's public DNS servers which are,,, and

Then flush your DNS cache and try pinging the address in question again.

share|improve this answer
I prefer google's myself., – Daniel B. Jul 18 '11 at 14:53
You've followed in the questioner's erroneous footsteps of conflating forward lookups, which are name→address lookups, with query forwarding, which is passing a query off to another proxy DNS server that is to do the grunt work of query resolution. – JdeBP Jul 22 '11 at 15:42

You may want to make sure that you have the roots.hint (CACHED.dns) file in the Windows\System32\dns folder. This file should have a listing of all the ROOT servers A, B, C .... You can download a copy of the most recent one by googling for it. You may have to stop and start DNS (Not sure) but the root servers allows the query to go out to Internet and follow the DNS path down to the relevant DNS server based on your query.

share|improve this answer
up vote 0 down vote accepted

In my case, I found the problem had to do with no reverse zone defined for the problem subnet. The way I discovered it was by typing "nslookup" at the command prompt and it told me there was a problem with the reverse/ptr record for the dns server. So I created a reverse lookup zone for this subnet and added the dns server and I believe it is working fine now.

share|improve this answer
That's a daft nslookup message resulting from bad design. It doesn't produce the behaviour described in your question for lookups of et al., nor does the existence of reverse lookup zones affect such forward lookups. – JdeBP Jul 22 '11 at 16:23
I think because it was unable to resolve the server name (reverse ptr lookup) it was considering the dns server to be invalid. So, the issue was not that forward lookup was broken, it was that the server did not have a reverse ptr record and was not being used at all I believe. – Scott Szretter Jul 26 '11 at 12:29

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.