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How to Flush DNS Cache

Updated: Sep 18, 2023


DNS cache clearing and flushing are essential processes for maintaining a smooth and secure internet browsing experience


Introduction

Have you ever found yourself puzzled by slow or inaccessible websites, even though your internet connection seems just fine? It's quite common to experience such issues due to a hidden culprit called the DNS cache.

Don't worry if you're not familiar with these technical terms – many people face similar confusion. In fact, Research shows that 40% of people will abandon your site entirely if it takes more than three seconds to load.

This is where the importance of clearing your DNS cache comes into play. Our article is here to guide you through this process in a simple and easy-to-understand manner, so you can bid farewell to those perplexing website hiccups.

What is DNS Cache?

DNS Cache, short for Domain Name System Cache, is like a memory bank that your computer, smartphone, or any internet-connected device maintains. It holds records of previously visited websites and their corresponding IP addresses.

This clever system helps speed up your internet experience by avoiding the need to look up the IP address of a website every single time you visit it. Instead, your device can quickly refer to the DNS cache to find the right address.

The Need for DNS Cache Clearing and Flushing

DNS cache clearing and flushing are essential processes for maintaining a smooth and secure internet browsing experience. DNS, or Domain Name System, is responsible for translating human-readable domain names (like www.example.com) into IP addresses, which computers use to locate servers on the internet.

DNS caching helps improve the efficiency of this translation process by storing previously resolved domain name-to-IP address mappings on the user's computer or the network's DNS server. This way, when you visit a website you've been to before, your computer doesn't need to repeatedly query a DNS server to find the IP address associated with the domain.

However, there are several important reasons why periodically clearing or flushing the DNS cache becomes necessary:

  1. IP Address Changes Websites and online services might change their hosting providers or IP addresses. If your computer or network's DNS cache still holds outdated information, you might be directed to the wrong server or experience slow loading times.

  2. Website Updates Dynamic websites often use content delivery networks (CDNs) to distribute content from various servers around the world. These servers might change frequently to ensure optimal performance. Flushing the DNS cache ensures you access the most up-to-date server.

  3. Security Concerns Cybersecurity threats, such as phishing attacks or malware, can exploit cached DNS data. Hackers might redirect users to malicious websites by manipulating the cached DNS records. Clearing the cache reduces the risk of falling victim to such attacks.

  4. Troubleshooting Network Issues When you encounter connectivity problems, flushing the DNS cache can help eliminate cached data as a potential source of the issue. This step is often part of the initial troubleshooting process recommended by technical support.

  5. Geolocation and Content Access Some websites provide different content based on the user's geographic location. Flushing the DNS cache can ensure that your requests are routed correctly to the server that provides content relevant to your current location.

  6. Performance Optimization Over time, a cluttered DNS cache might slow down your browsing experience. Clearing the cache can improve the efficiency of the DNS resolution process, leading to faster website loading times.



1. DNS Cache Clearing on Mac

Flushing the DNS cache on a Mac can help resolve issues related to domain name resolution and ensure that your system is using the most up-to-date DNS information. Here's how you can clear the DNS cache on a Mac:

Step # 01 — Open Finder

Launch Finder by clicking on the blue and white face icon located in the Dock or by pressing Command + Space to open Spotlight and then typing "Finder" and hitting Enter.

Step # 02 — Click Applications

In the Finder window, navigate to the "Applications" section located in the left sidebar. Click on "Applications" to access your installed applications.

Step # 03 — Scroll down to the Utilities folder and click it

Within the Applications folder, locate and click on the "Utilities" folder. This folder contains various system utilities that are useful for system maintenance and troubleshooting.

Step # 04 — Open Terminal

Inside the "Utilities" folder, find and double-click on the "Terminal" application. This will open a command-line interface where you can interact with your Mac's system using text commands.

Step # 05 — Use appropriate commands based on the Mac OS

  • For macOS Catalina and later (including Big Sur):

In the Terminal window, type the following command and press Enter:


Command: 
sudo dscacheutil -flushcache; sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

You might be prompted to enter your administrator password. When typing the password, you won't see any characters on the screen, but it's being entered.

  • For macOS Sierra, High Sierra, and Mojave:

The process is similar to the one above. In the Terminal window, type the following command and press Enter:


Command: 
sudo killall -HUP mDNSResponder

  • For older macOS versions:

In the Terminal window, type the following command and press Enter:



Command: 
sudo dscacheutil -flushcache

Step # 06 — Verify The Cache Clearing

After entering the appropriate command, the Terminal might not display any confirmation message. To verify that the DNS cache has been cleared, you can attempt to visit a website in your web browser. If the cache was cleared successfully, your browser should fetch the updated DNS information.

Remember that clearing the DNS cache can be useful if you're experiencing issues with domain name resolution, but it's not something that needs to be done frequently. It's generally a good troubleshooting step if you're encountering DNS-related problems on your Mac.

2. DNS Cache Clearing on Windows

Step 01 — Open Command Prompt as an Administrator

  • Click on the Start button (Windows logo) located at the bottom-left corner of your screen.

  • In the search bar, type "Command Prompt".

  • Right-click on the "Command Prompt" app in the search results.

  • From the context menu, select "Run as administrator". This will open the Command Prompt with administrative privileges.

Step 02 — Use "ipconfig /flushdns" Command

Once you have the Command Prompt with administrative privileges open, follow these steps to clear the DNS cache using the "ipconfig /flushdns" command:

  • In the Command Prompt window, type the following command:

Command: 
ipconfig /flushdns
  • Press the Enter key on your keyboard.

  • You should see a message indicating that the DNS Resolver Cache has been successfully flushed.

  • The DNS cache has now been cleared, and any outdated or incorrect DNS entries have been removed.

Step 03 — Verify DNS Cache Clearing

To ensure that the DNS cache has been cleared, you can perform a simple test by trying to access a website whose DNS information might have been cached previously.

If the website loads correctly, it indicates that the cache has been successfully cleared and your system is now fetching fresh DNS records.

Step 04 — Close Command Prompt

After you've successfully flushed the DNS cache and verified its clearing, you can close the Command Prompt window.


3. DNS Cache Management for Google Chrome

DNS caching is a mechanism that helps improve the efficiency and speed of web browsing by storing recently accessed domain name information locally. This prevents the need to query DNS servers every time a website is visited, reducing the overall load on the DNS infrastructure and decreasing latency.

Google Chrome, being one of the most popular web browsers, employs its own DNS caching mechanism to enhance user experience.

The Impact of DNS Cache on Chrome's Browsing Speed

The Domain Name System (DNS) plays a critical role in translating human-readable domain names into IP addresses that computers use to locate web servers. To enhance browsing speed and efficiency, web browsers like Chrome maintain a DNS cache—a temporary database that stores recent DNS lookups.

This cache helps reduce the time it takes to load websites, as the browser can quickly retrieve IP addresses without querying the DNS server every time a user visits a site.

However, over time, this cache can become cluttered with outdated or incorrect entries, leading to potential browsing issues and reduced speed.

A bloated DNS cache can cause delays in connecting to websites, as the browser may spend more time searching for the correct IP address.

If a website's IP address changes, the browser might still use the outdated information stored in the cache, resulting in an inability to access the updated version of the site.

Steps to Clear DNS Cache on Chrome

Here's an overview of how DNS cache management works in Chrome:

  • Step # 01 — Access Chrome's Clear Browsing Data Menu

  • Open Google Chrome on your computer.

  • Click on the three vertical dots (menu icon) in the top-right corner to open the Chrome menu.

  • Hover over "More tools" in the dropdown menu and then select "Clear browsing data."

  • Step # 02 — Choose Browsing Data to Clear

In the "Clear browsing data" window, you'll see various types of data that you can clear. Make sure "Cookies and other site data" and "Cached images and files" are selected.

  • Step # 03 — Select Time Range

Choose the time range for which you want to clear the data. You can select options like "Last hour," "Last 24 hours," "Last 7 days," and so on. To clear the entire DNS cache, you might want to select "All time."

  • Step # 04 — Clear Browsing Data

Once you've chosen the data types and time range, click the "Clear data" button. Chrome will start the process of clearing the selected browsing data, which includes the DNS cache.

  • Step # 05 — Restart Chrome

After the data has been cleared, close and restart Chrome for the changes to take effect.

By following these steps, you effectively clear the DNS cache in Chrome, allowing the browser to rebuild its cache with up-to-date information. This can help improve browsing speed and resolve potential issues related to outdated DNS records.

How to Ensure DNS Cache Privacy

While DNS caching enhances performance, it also raises concerns about privacy and security, as cached information can potentially be exploited for various purposes, including tracking user activities and conducting DNS spoofing attacks.

To mitigate these privacy risks and enhance DNS cache privacy, here are some steps you can take:

  1. Use a Privacy-Focused DNS Provider Consider switching your default DNS resolver to a privacy-focused DNS provider that respects your privacy rights. Providers like Cloudflare (1.1.1.1), Quad9 (9.9.9.9), and OpenDNS (208.67.222.222) offer encrypted DNS services that aim to enhance your privacy.

  2. Enable DNS over HTTPS (DoH) or DNS over TLS (DoT) These protocols encrypt your DNS traffic, making it more difficult for third parties to intercept or monitor your DNS requests. Many modern web browsers and operating systems support DoH and DoT, allowing you to enable them easily.

  3. Configure Your Router Some routers allow you to change the DNS settings at the router level. By configuring your router to use privacy-focused DNS servers, you can ensure that all devices connected to your network benefit from enhanced DNS cache privacy.

  4. Regularly Clear DNS Cache Your operating system and web browsers cache DNS data to speed up future requests. However, this cached data can potentially be accessed by malicious actors. Regularly clearing your DNS cache can minimize this risk. You can usually do this through your computer's command line or network settings.

  5. Use Private Browsing Mode When you use private or incognito browsing modes, your browser typically won't cache DNS data or save browsing history, providing an extra layer of privacy.

  6. Consider Using a VPN Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) encrypt your internet traffic and route it through servers in different locations. This can obscure your DNS requests and make it more difficult for ISPs and other entities to monitor your online activities.

  7. Employ Browser Extensions Some browser extensions and add-ons are designed to enhance privacy by blocking tracking scripts and other potentially invasive elements. Look for extensions that focus on DNS privacy and security.

  8. Keep Software Updated Regularly update your operating system, web browsers, and security software. Updates often include patches that address security vulnerabilities and enhance privacy features.

  9. Educate Yourself Take the time to understand DNS, how it works, and the potential privacy risks associated with it. This knowledge will empower you to make informed decisions about your online activities and privacy measures.

Conclusion

In the digital age, where swift and secure connectivity is a necessity, understanding the nuances of DNS cache and its clearing process can significantly enhance your online experience.

By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this guide, you can seamlessly clear your DNS cache on various devices and mitigate potential issues arising from stale cache entries.

Remember, regular maintenance is the cornerstone of a smooth online journey, ensuring you're always connected to the vast expanse of the World Wide Web.



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