Being On Hold and the Art of Debugging DNS Discrepancies

So as you know, I recently switched hosts. I host a small site for a short animated film which is still in post production.

When I switched host, I needed to update that site’s record of who is handling the domain name. Friday night, I logged into the domain registrar and found the page which lets me update the nameservers. I am told this is called updating the zone file.

When I do this, it is supposed to propagate the changes through the all of the DNS servers around the world within the space of 24 hours. That’s how it works. Problem solved.

Not with this domain name. Monday morning rolled around, and still the domain name was pointing at the old host’s servers.

This is weird, because and are reporting the dns records correctly.

So I get in contact with the registrar who handles the domain name. The lady on the other end of my web-based IM session told me it’s probably Telecom’s fault, as this kind of thing isn’t surprising, and on request provides me with phone numbers to Telecom.

After 15 minutes on hold (because of the power cuts in Auckland recently) I get through to a guy in Complex Technical Support (yes, that’s what the department is called at Telecom/Xtra), and I explain to him my problem, and stubbornly refuses to believe that their systems are as bad as I have been informed — I asked that he flush their dns cache for me, but he refused. After frustrating attempts to get him to see what I was seeing, I took his name down and department in case I needed to stick it to him.

So I talk to my System Administrator here at Natcoll, and he introduces me to a tool called dig which will let me see what different DNS servers are saying about domain names. After checking a few low level DNS servers, such as Paradise and Xtra, we checked the A-level DNS servers — and the first B level DNS server I checked was mis-reporting too! No wonder we’re having these problems.

So, after trying to raise an IM session with the registrar, I tracked down their phone number and called them for real. I got a helpful soul who said aha, no, what I was told by the other staff member is incorrect. Turns out that they are not a .com registrar themselves, but have to go through a US company to register .com domains on behalf of their customers, and it would seem that the propagation of the zone file changes I requested had failed, and they would need to request them to happen by telephone.

So all’s well that ends well. I’ve called Complex Tech Support back and asked that a message be left for the employee I spoke with, telling him that he was right, and I was fed bad information from my registrar and I wanted to apologise.

Hopefully the site will be up tomorrow morning! I guess we’ll see, eh?

One thought on “Being On Hold and the Art of Debugging DNS Discrepancies

  1. bssn

    to use Dreamhost’s dns server

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