During the VPN configuration process, you will likely have already come across the term DNS. This guide explains all you need to know about using DNS and how to correctly configure DNS settings for your VPN connection.
What is DNS and when do I need it?
DNS stands for Domain Name System. It lets you translate a URL or domain name (e.g. "vpntracker.com") into the IP address your device needs in order to reach the service.
When talking about DNS, it's helpful to distinguish between two different kinds of DNS:
This refers to the DNS records of websites that are publicly available to everyone on the internet (i.e. google.com, amazon.com, etc.). This is usually provided by your internet service provider.
Private DNS is for network resources that aren't publicly available to everyone (e. g. an intranet webpage, the internal address of a server, etc.).
When is private DNS needed?
IP addresses are difficult to memorize, so it's useful to set up a private DNS so users can quickly and easily access internal services like intranet, file servers, etc. via URLs (e.g. intranet.greenhaven.net) instead of having to enter IP addresses.
In order for this to work, the network admin needs to configure a private DNS server for the network.
How to configure DNS settings for a VPN connection
Use Remote DNS Server
Select this checkbox to tell VPN Tracker that you have configured a private DNS server for your network.
You will then have two options:
Receive settings from VPN Gateway
Select this option to tell VPN Tracker to receive DNS settings from your VPN gateway. This doesn't work with all setups, but is worth trying first.
Manually add DNS settings
If your VPN doesn't automatically provide DNS settings, you can uncheck that option to manually enter the DNS servers you want to use.
Enter the IP address of your DNS server. VPN Tracker will tell your device to query this server when you're connected to VPN.
Enter the domain name you have registered for your network to reach internal services (e.g. "internal.example.com").
Use DNS Server for
Here you have the option to choose between only using the DNS server for your internal search domains - and using your ISP for all other services - or using your DNS for all domains (including public). Please see the troubleshooting section for further tips.
If DNS allows us to find the IP address for a given hostname, reverse DNS allows us to find the hostname for a given IP address. This is used by certain networking tools to let you figure out which hostnames you can use on the VPN.
Troubleshooting: Common DNS problems while connected to VPN
No DNS settings configured on the VPN gateway
If you select the option in VPN Tracker to "Receive DNS Settings from VPN Gateway", please ensure you or your admin has configured DNS on your gateway. If not, you will not be able to reach websites and other services, as VPN Tracker will be referring to settings which do not exist.
Use DNS for all domains
If you tell VPN Tracker to use your DNS server for all domains when your server has only been configured for specific search domains, your internet access will be restricted whenever you connect to VPN.
To rectify this, select search domains only and enter the domains you need to use DNS for (e.g. greenhaven.net.)
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