Can the DNS Server Do Recursive Queries?


Heather Bennett

Can the DNS Server Do Recursive Queries?

When it comes to understanding how the Domain Name System (DNS) works, one question that often arises is whether or not a DNS server can perform recursive queries. In this article, we will delve into the concept of recursive queries and explore how DNS servers handle them.

Understanding Recursive Queries

A recursive query is a type of query where a DNS server is tasked with resolving a domain name on behalf of a client. When a client initiates a recursive query, it sends a request to its configured DNS server, asking it to resolve the domain name specified in the query.

Upon receiving a recursive query, the DNS server starts by checking its cache for any previously resolved entries for the requested domain name. If no cached entry is found, the server needs to contact other DNS servers in order to find the answer.

Here’s where recursion comes into play. The DNS server can perform recursive queries by contacting other DNS servers on behalf of the client until it gets an authoritative answer. This process involves sending iterative queries to different DNS servers and following referrals until an authoritative server is reached.

The Role of Caching

Caching plays a crucial role in optimizing the performance of DNS servers. When a DNS server receives an authoritative answer for a particular domain name, it stores this information in its cache for future use. This way, if another client requests resolution for the same domain name later on, the server can provide the answer directly from its cache without performing additional queries.

The Difference Between Iterative and Recursive Queries

It’s important to note that iterative and recursive queries are different from each other. In an iterative query, instead of contacting other servers on behalf of the client, the DNS server simply provides a referral to the client, indicating which server to contact next. The client is then responsible for initiating subsequent queries until it reaches an authoritative server.

On the other hand, recursive queries involve the DNS server actively performing queries on behalf of the client, following referrals and contacting other servers until it obtains an authoritative answer.

Configuring DNS Servers for Recursive Queries

In most cases, DNS servers are configured to allow recursive queries by default. This is because enabling recursive queries allows the server to provide resolution services to clients and retrieve information from other DNS servers when necessary.

However, it’s important to consider security implications when enabling recursive queries. An improperly configured DNS server may become vulnerable to various attacks, such as cache poisoning or denial-of-service attacks. Therefore, it is recommended to ensure that proper security measures are in place and that the server is only allowing recursive queries from trusted sources.


In conclusion, a DNS server can indeed perform recursive queries. When a client initiates a query for domain name resolution, the DNS server will use recursion to contact other servers on behalf of the client until it obtains an authoritative answer. Recursive queries play a crucial role in the functioning of the Domain Name System and allow for efficient resolution of domain names.

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