How to fix the DNS server unavailable error in Windows 11

Milan Stanojevic
by Milan Stanojevic
Windows & Software Expert
Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more
Affiliate Disclosure
  • The DNS server unavailable message in Windows 11 can appear if you have problems with the cache, so be sure to clear it properly.
  • Changing the network settings or your server can also help with this type of problem.
  • To resolve such DNS issues, try disabling your antivirus temporarily or restarting your router.
dns server unavailable windows 11
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For your Windows 11 PC to connect to the Internet, multiple components need to work properly, including your network adapter and drivers.

However, components such as DNS servers are crucial if you want to access any website. Unfortunately, certain users receive a repeated DNS server unavailable message in Windows 11.

When this issue appears, you won’t be able to access any website, and this is why it’s important that you fix it as soon as possible.

This error usually occurs due to network hardware glitches or improper network settings, but it can be easily solved with our solutions. Just follow them and you’ll be able to get access to your favorite websites, in a matter of minutes.

What is the main function of a DNS server?

A DNS server is a special component that processes your requests and helps you connect to the website that you’re trying to access.

When you type a website name in your browser, the server will look for its location and send it to the browser so it can access it.

This works similarly to a large phonebook since it allows you to find the IP address of any website that you’re trying to access and helps you connect to it.

If for some reason you’re having issues with this feature, be sure to check our DNS server cannot be reached guide.

How does DNS work?

First, you need to type the web page name in the browser, and the request is received by the DNS recursive resolver. Next, the resolver sends the request to the root nameserver.

The root server then delivers the address of the top-level domain server to the resolver. Now the resolver sends the request to the top-level domain and the server responds with the location of the domain’s nameserver.

DNS lookup flowchart (Source: Cloudflare)

The resolver now contacts the nameserver, and the IP address of the website is now returned to the resolver and forwarded to the web browser.

Lastly, the client sends the HTTP request and the server renders the web page.

How can I fix the DNS server unavailable error on Windows 11?

1. Use the built-in troubleshooter

  1. Open the Start Menu and choose Settings.
  2. In the left pane go to System and in the right pane, select Troubleshoot.
  3. Select Other troubleshooters.
  4. Click the Run button next to the Internet troubleshooter.
  5. Wait for the troubleshooting process to finish.
  6. If the problem persists, run the Network adapter and Incoming connections troubleshooters.

If you’re unable to open the Settings app, just take a look at our article on what to do if the Settings app crashes for some quick solutions.

2. Use the command line

  1. Press Windows Key + X and select Windows Terminal (Admin) from the menu.
  2. Now run the following commands one by one:
    ipconfig /flushdns
    ipconfig /release
    ipconfig /renew

3. Change the DNS

  1. Click the Search icon in the Taskbar.
  2. Enter network connections and select View network connections.
  3. Right-click your connection and select Properties.
  4. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click on Properties.
  5. Now select Use the following DNS server addresses and set the following:
    • Preferred DNS server: 8.8.8.8
    • Alternate DNS server:8.8.4.4
  6. Click OK to save changes.
  7. Now select Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv4) and change the DNS server like in previous steps.

In case you’re having problems using the search feature, our Search bar not working guide will definitely help you, so don’t hesitate to take a closer look.

4. Restart the DNS services

  1. Press Windows Key + R and enter services.msc. Press Enter or click OK.
  2. Locate the DHCP Client service, right-click it and choose Restart from the menu.
  3. Now right-click DNS Client service and choose Restart if available.

5. Disable the proxy

  1. Open the Run window by pressing Windows Key + R.
  2. Type inetcpl.cpl and press Enter.
  3. Navigate to the Connections tab and click on LAN settings.
  4. Uncheck Use a proxy server for your LAN and click OK.

6. Disable your antivirus temporarily

  1. Locate your antivirus icon in the system tray.
  2. Right-click it and choose the option to turn off real-time protection.

Once the antivirus software is disabled, check if the problem is still there. If the issue doesn’t appear, it means that the antivirus configuration is interfering with your network connection, so be sure to adjust it accordingly.

Alternatively, you can consider switching to a different antivirus that is compatible with Windows 11. Making an informed choice when it comes to protecting your PC can be difficult considering the wide range of options available so we’re sure you’ll find our top picks useful.

What does changing the DNS server do?

By default, your PC is using your ISP’s DNS server that handles all your requests. However, there are people who tend to use Google’s public server because it’s sometimes faster and more secure.

Most notably, if you can’t access a certain website, Google’s server might help. By making this change, all your requests will be handled by Google and not by your ISP.

What is DNS over HTTPS?

This is a new protocol that should encrypt all your requests using HTTPS. Currently, all requests are sent in plaintext, allowing your ISP and sometimes hackers to see them.

DNS over HTTPS in action (Source: Cloudflare)

However, that’s about to change with the new protocol. We have a detailed guide on how to use DNS over HTTPS in Windows 11, so be sure to check it out.

The DNS server unavailable message will prevent you from browsing the web, but as you can see, in most cases, you can fix this problem simply by using the command line, or by changing the required network settings.

The same alert telling you that something isn’t working properly and you can’t connect to the Internet until all the issues are being fixed appears in Windows 10 as well. Check out this guide on how to fix DNS server unavailable in this OS and solve the issue for good.

Did you find a solution to this problem on your own? Let us know in the comments below.

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