I have an OpenVPN server setup in data center and use tunnelblick as a client. Once connected it add routes to my DC LAN network and uses as primary DNS, as secondary DNS. host my subdomain DNS entries in dc.example.com

The issue is when the VPN tunnel established, DNS resolution does not work consistently.

As I checked, both /etc/resolve.conf and "System Preference - Network - DNS Servers" shows the same result, which has "" and "" as expected.

However, in the terminal, I got mixed result between "dig" and "ping". For dig I can get sth like

➜  ~ dig ftp.dc.example.com

; <<>> DiG 9.8.3-P1 <<>> ftp.dc.example.com
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 22990
;; flags: qr aa rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;ftp.dc.example.com.        IN  A

ftp.dc.example.com. 3600    IN  A

;; Query time: 84 msec
;; WHEN: Thu Nov 24 15:39:21 2016
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 55

But for ping I got

➜  ~ ping ftp.dc.example.com
ping: cannot resolve ftp.dc.example.com: Unknown host

And in other application like browser I got the same result as "ping", basically unresolvable.

As you can see there's no network issue or issue with DNS server, otherwise "dig" wouldn't work.

But, if I query "www.google.com" then both "ping" and "dig" will work.

So it seems when the VPN connection established, the resolve.conf is updated accordingly, but some applications might be still querying old DNS server.

I tried to reopen terminal application, or use different terminal like iTerm, same result. But if I wait for a while, say 10-15 minutes, then ping and browser will work.


When OS X is configured with multiple DNS servers (e.g. and, they system resolver does not treat them as primary vs. secondary or anything like that, it just uses all of them. So when you try to reach ftp.dc.example.com, it might try to look that name up with the server (and succeed), or it might try with the server (and fail). Which one it uses for any given lookup is more or less random.

The only solution I know of is to not include DNS servers on the list, unless you want it to use them. In this case, that means use only, not

BTW, dig, host, and nslookup do not go through the system resolver, and hence will not behave the same way -- they all use the first listed DNS server unless you specifically tell them to query a different server.


This seems like you are being affected by OS X's DNS caching. It may be a matter of manually flushing the cache in the client side 'up' script for your VPN connection. This article may be helpful to you http://osxdaily.com/2014/11/20/flush-dns-cache-mac-os-x/

  • Forgot to mention, I did try that it did not help. – Carl Dec 10 '16 at 0:54

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