DNS Performance and the Effectiveness of Caching

Jaeyeon Jung, Emil Sit, Hari Balakrishnan, Robert Morris
Proc. ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Workshop, 2001

This paper presents a detailed analysis of traces of DNS and associated TCP traffic collected on the Internet links of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). The first part of the analysis details how clients at these institutions interact with the wide-area DNS system, focusing on performance and prevalence of failures. The second part evaluates the effectiveness of DNS caching.

In the most recent MIT trace, 23% of lookups receive no answer; these lookups account for more than half of all traced DNS packets since they are retransmitted multiple times. About 13% of all lookups result in an answer that indicates a failure. Many of these failures appear to be caused by missing inverse (IP-to-name) mappings or NS records that point to non-existent or inappropriate hosts. 27% of the queries sent to the root name servers result in such failures.

The paper presents trace-driven simulations that explore the effect of varying TTLs and varying degrees of cache sharing on DNS cache hit rates. The results show that reducing the TTLs of address (A) records to as low as a few hundred seconds has little adverse effect on hit rates, and that little benefit is obtained from sharing a forwarding DNS cache among more than 10 or 20 clients. These results suggest that the performance of DNS is not as dependent on aggressive caching as is commonly believed, and that the widespread use of dynamic, low-TTL A-record bindings should not degrade DNS performance.

A revised version of the paper for IEEE/ACM Transaction on Networking (it appeared on the issue of October 2002 Volume 10, Number 5) is available in

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