SERVFAIL Explained: What It Means and How to Resolve It

A problem that can disrupt online experiences is the SERVFAIL error. If you’ve come across this term and are puzzled about what it means and how to tackle it, you’re in the right place. We will dive into the specifics of this error, its causes, and effective strategies to resolve it.


SERVFAIL is a DNS (Domain Name System) error indicating a server failure. When your device tries to connect to a website, it queries a DNS server to translate the human-readable domain name (like into an IP address (like If the DNS server encounters an issue during this process and cannot fulfil the request, it returns a SERVFAIL error.

Common Causes of SERVFAIL

Several factors can lead to a SERVFAIL error, including:

  • Server Configuration Issues: Misconfigurations on the DNS server can prevent it from processing requests correctly.
  • Network Problems: Connectivity issues between your device and the DNS server can interrupt the query process.
  • Zone File Errors: Errors in the zone file, which contains information about domain names and IP addresses, can cause failures.
  • Rate Limiting: Some DNS servers impose rate limits to prevent abuse, and exceeding these limits can result in SERVFAIL errors.
  • Resource Exhaustion: If the DNS server runs out of memory or other resources, it may be unable to process requests, leading to a SERVFAIL.

How to Resolve SERVFAIL?

Resolving these errors involves a mix of troubleshooting steps and preventive measures. Here’s a comprehensive guide to tackling this issue:

  • Verify DNS Configuration: Ensure that your DNS server’s configuration is correct. Check for syntax errors in configuration files and ensure all necessary settings are properly configured.
  • Inspect Zone Files: Examine the zone files for errors. Common mistakes include typos, missing records, or incorrect formatting.
  • Check Server Resources: Monitor the DNS server’s resource usage. High CPU or memory utilization can impair its ability to handle requests. Consider upgrading your hardware or optimizing server performance.
  • Network Connectivity: Ensure there are no network issues between your device and the DNS server. This includes checking firewall settings, router configurations, and network stability. Tools like ping and traceroute can help diagnose connectivity problems.
  • Rate Limiting: If your DNS server imposes rate limits, ensure that legitimate traffic is not being blocked. Adjust rate limiting settings if necessary to accommodate expected traffic volumes.
  • Secondary DNS: Utilize secondary DNS servers as a fallback. This can provide redundancy and improve reliability. Configure your DNS settings to query multiple servers in case one fails.
  • Clear DNS Cache: Sometimes, cached DNS records can cause persistent issues. Clear the DNS cache on your device and, if applicable, on your DNS server.
  • Update DNS Software: Ensure that your DNS server software is up to date. Updates often include bug fixes and performance improvements that can resolve underlying issues causing SERVFAIL errors.

Preventive Measures

To minimize the risk of encountering SERVFAIL errors in the future, consider the following preventive measures:

  • Regular Backups: Keep regular backups of your DNS configuration and zone files.
  • Monitoring and Alerts: Implement monitoring tools to alert you of any issues with your DNS server.
  • Load Balancing: Distribute DNS queries across multiple servers to prevent overloading a single server.


SERVFAIL errors, while frustrating, are not insurmountable. By understanding their causes and implementing systematic troubleshooting steps, you can resolve these issues and ensure smoother internet connectivity. Regular maintenance and proactive measures will further help in keeping your DNS infrastructure robust and reliable. Stay vigilant, keep your systems updated, and you’ll minimize the disruptions caused by these errors.

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