Do you want to learn how to view DNS cache in Windows 10? If so, this tutorial is for you. On a Windows 10 PC, there are several methods you can use to display the DNS contents. First, here’s a summary of what the DNS cache means.

What Is the DNS Cache?

DNS, (Domain Name System) cache, sometimes referred to as DNS Resolver Cache, is a temporary storage of information. It is maintained by your computer, and it contains records of all the recently visited websites and their IP addresses.

It serves as a database that keeps a copy of a DNS lookup, locally stored on your browser or operating system. Your computer can quickly refer to it whenever trying to load a website. The DNS cache is like a phonebook that stores an index of all public websites and their IP addresses. Its main purpose is to speed up a request to load a website by handling name resolution of addresses that you recently visited before the request is sent out to tons of public DNS servers. Since the information is available locally, the process is much quicker.

How to Check DNS Cache on Windows 10

As noted earlier, there are various ways to display DNS cache on Windows 10. This can be useful if you want to diagnose DNS issues, for example, where an invalid or out of date DNS record might be cached.

Via Command Prompt

To display the contents of the DNS cache, you need to execute the following command in an elevated Command Prompt:

  1. Press the Win + S shortcut keys and type in “cmd” (without quotes).
  2. Click on Run as administrator on the right pane.
  3. On the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter:
    ipconfig /displaydns

Upon execution of the command, the following results will be displayed:

  • Record Name – This is the name you query the DNS for, and the records, such as addresses that belong to that name.
  • Record Type – This refers to the type of entry, displayed as a number (although they are commonly referred to by their names). Each DNS protocol has a number.
  • Time to Live (TTL) – This is a value that describes how long a cache entry is valid, displayed in seconds.
  • Data Length – This describes the length in bytes. For instance, the IPv4 address is four bytes, and the IPv6 address is 16 bytes.
  • Section – This is the answer to the query.
  • CNAME Record – This is the canonical name record.

You can export the results of the DNS cache using this command:
ipconfig /displaydns > dnscachecontents.txt

This will save the output in the text document, dnscachecontents.txt.

Via PowerShell

You can view the DNS cache using Windows PowerShell. And like in Command Prompt, you can also export or save the database. Here’s the procedure:

  1. Press the Win + X keyboard shortcut, and select Windows PowerShell Admin. Alternatively, if you can’t find that option, press the Win + S shortcut keys, type in “PowerShell” (no quotes) and select Run as Administrator on the right pane.
  2. Next, input the command “Get-DnsClientCache” (no quotes), and press Enter.
  3. Use the Get-Help cmdlet to get more information:
    Help Get-DnsClientCache –full

How to Clear DNS Cache

When you run into Internet connectivity issues, flushing or clearing the DNS cache usually resolves the problem.

You may want to clear your DNS cache for a varied number of reasons, including:

  • When attempting to troubleshoot connectivity issues, where you have difficulty accessing websites and applications: If the domain name in the cache has an incorrect or invalid IP address, the website won’t be able to return the correct information. Even if you clear your browser history, the DNS cache will still contain the old corrupt details. Flushing helps to get the DNS to update the results.
  • When attempting to troubleshoot or resolve DNS spoofing or DNS cache poisoning issues: Cybercriminals may try to access the cache and insert or change the IP address, with the intention to redirect you to a website designed to gather sensitive data like passwords and banking details. Clearing the DNS cache prevents this.
  • Protecting your privacy: Although the DNS cache does not contain personal data like cookies or JavaScript, it retains a history of addresses that you’ve visited recently, as well as those you visit frequently. Such kind of information can be dangerous in the hands of a skilled hacker. By clearing the DNS cache, you erase your address history, making it less likely for a hacker to track your online behavior.
  • Resolving stale or outdated information about visited sites: An example here would be if a website has moved servers.

Is It Safe to Flush DNS Cache?

It is important to note that flushing the DNS cache doesn’t have any negative impacts on your system. DNS cache ensures quick access to websites, and when you clear it, the first time you visit a website, it may take longer than usual to load. But afterward, the results will be quicker again.

To clear the DNS cache, for whatever reason, you can use a command line or Windows PowerShell.

Clearing DNS Cache Using Command Prompt

  1. Press the Windows Key + S, and type “CMD” (without quotes).
  2. Choose the “Run as administrator” option in the right pane.
  3. Type the following command in the prompt and hit Enter:
    ipconfig/flushdns

That’s it! You should get a notification indicating the cache has been successfully flushed.

If the issue is on the server instead of the local machine, you can still use Command Prompt to clear the DNS cache, but with a different command. In that case, the command would be:

  • dnscmd /clearcache

Clearing DNS Cache Using Windows PowerShell

You can also flush the DNS cache using Windows PowerShell. Depending on the type of cache you want to clear, you have a few options to implement:

  1. To clear the local DNS server cache, use the command line:
    Clear-DnsServerCache
  2. To clear the client cache, use this command:
    Clear-DnsClientCache

How to Disable DNS Cache in Windows 10

If for any reason you wish to disable DNS cache on your Windows 10 PC, you can use the “Service Controller” tool to stop the service:

  1. Press the Win + R keys, type in “services.msc” (no quotes) and press Enter or click OK.
  2. Locate the DNS Client service (or Dnscache on some computers) and double-click it to open its Properties.
  3. Change the Startup Type to Disabled.
  4. To re-enable the service, repeat the steps above and change the Startup Type to Automatic.

Alternatively, you can deactivate the DNS Client using Windows System Configuration:

  1. Press the Win + R keys, type in “msconfig” (no quotes)in the Run dialog box, and hit Enter or click OK.
  2. Move to the Services tab and find DNS Client.
  3. Uncheck the box next to the service and click Apply > OK.
  4. To re-enable the service, repeat the steps above and tick the checkbox again.

Keep in mind that disabling this service will affect the overall performance of your computer and the network traffic for DNS queries will increase, which means websites will load much slower than normal.

In Conclusion…

Like we mentioned above, DNS cache avoids having to lookup DNS each time you visit a website. All you have to do is visit the site once, and upon subsequent requests, your browser or operating system will use the cached DNS details to return requests much quicker.

While clearing the DNS cache is important to protecting your privacy and preventing instances of hacking, it won’t remove all traces of sensitive information. These details include activity history, login details, profile data, and traces of visits to adult websites. Even if you didn’t open them knowingly, you might have been redirected without your knowledge.

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