What Are Forwarders in DNS Server?


Angela Bailey

In the world of Domain Name System (DNS), forwarders play a crucial role. They act as intermediaries between DNS servers, helping to resolve queries and provide efficient and reliable domain name resolution. In this article, we will explore what forwarders are, how they work, and why they are important in a DNS server setup.

What are Forwarders?

Forwarders, in simple terms, are DNS servers that help resolve queries by forwarding them to other DNS servers. When a DNS server receives a query for which it doesn’t have the answer, it can pass the query to another DNS server known as a forwarder. Forwarders have access to a broader network of DNS servers and can obtain the answer more efficiently.

Using forwarders improves the efficiency of domain name resolution by offloading the responsibility of resolving queries to specialized DNS servers that are optimized for this task. Instead of the local DNS server performing iterative lookups until it finds an answer or reaches a root server, it can rely on forwarders to handle the resolution process.

How do Forwarders Work?

When a DNS server receives a query from a client or another DNS server, it first checks its cache to see if it has previously resolved that domain name. If the answer is not in its cache, it consults its configured forwarders.

To configure forwarders in a DNS server, administrators specify one or more IP addresses of other DNS servers that will act as their forwarders. These forwarder IP addresses can be those provided by an Internet Service Provider (ISP) or public DNS services like Google Public DNS or OpenDNS.

The local DNS server then sends the query packet to one of its configured forwarder IP addresses. The forwarder processes the query and either provides an answer if it has it cached or forwards the query to another DNS server it is configured to use as a forwarder. This process continues until the answer is found or until there are no more forwarders available.

Why are Forwarders Important?

Forwarders provide several benefits in a DNS server setup:

  • Improved Performance: By offloading the responsibility of resolving queries to specialized DNS servers, forwarders can provide faster responses and reduce the overall query resolution time.
  • Traffic Optimization: Instead of each DNS server performing iterative lookups for every query, forwarders reduce network traffic by efficiently forwarding queries to other DNS servers.
  • Enhanced Security: Forwarders can be configured to only forward queries to trusted DNS servers, adding an additional layer of security by reducing exposure to potentially malicious or untrustworthy DNS sources.
  • Caching Efficiency: Forwarders often have larger caches and can store frequently accessed domain name resolutions. This reduces the need for repeated queries and improves efficiency.


In summary, forwarders are an essential component of a DNS server setup. They act as intermediaries between DNS servers, improving performance, optimizing network traffic, enhancing security, and increasing caching efficiency. By utilizing forwarders effectively, organizations can provide reliable and efficient domain name resolution services for their clients and users.

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