Question of the day: What are pros and cons of using Third Party DNS Validation Tools and Command Line Tools?

Third Party DNS validation tools and command line tools can both be used to your advantage in order to debug and solve configuration errors. However, both have their pros and cons.

Here’s a quick rundown of the pros and cons for both of these tools.

Third Party DNS Validation

Third party DNS validation tools can be used to check the status of DNS services externally from a client’s local network. Moreover, there are also tools that be used to verify if a record is resolving properly.

Third Party DNS validation tools can be extremely beneficial. Here are some of pros for why it is helpful to use Third Party DNS Validation tools. First, it gives you an outside worldview of your DNS query. Alas, the world may see things differently than what you are seeing locally. Second, it usually does not require a high level of understanding and will usually only result in a “red X” when things are not working or configured correctly. Finally, they often allow you to check from multiple views around the world.

However, there is a downside to web-based tools, because they are developed through code which might run the risk of having bugs. That’s one con. Another con is that they can be hidden and subjective, that is, whomever partnered with the company can create misleading results, giving that company preferential treatment in the returns. Finally, these tools can sometimes miss information and then charge you a fee to view the information in its entirety.

Here’s a short list of third party monitoring tools:

Of course, Third Party DNS validation tools aren’t the only available options.

Command Line Tools

Indeed, there are also command line tools. The pros are as follows: these tools allow precise queries to be run on exactly what you’re looking for. With the right knowledge, these tools provide a greater level of understand to help troubleshoot issues.

Command line tools have their faults, too. While command line tools are good to use, they can be prone to human error as well (in the event that the tool is not used in the right way). This will also lead to incorrect results based upon local network problems that the client might end up having. These tools also only give you access to the inside view of a DNS query. Meaning, the outside world may see things differently. It also requires a greater level of understanding on how to make a DNS query. Finally, there is no support, so, again, it requires that you have direct knowledge of how to do it yourself.

Here’s a short list of command line DNS tools:
– dig
– host
– nslookup
– dnsip, dnsipq, dnsname, dnsmc, dnstxt  (from Dan Bernstein)

In short, there are pluses and minuses to using third party validation tools or command line tools.

Bottom line is this: regardless of what tool you choose to use, accuracy is key.

What tools have you found most useful?