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Zone not loaded by DNS server - Windows 2003 R2 SP2

 ·   ·  ☕ 2 min read


So we switched to a new provider and I had to change primary DNS to another server. Yes, we decided to have another server for this purpose, just to have a backup in case anything goes wrong. And we actually made use of that old server, because some of our domain records took longer to update, than it was expected. Anyway, let’s skip unneeded details and roll down to the topic of this post.

Tech Stuff

The new DNS server became a virtual machine running Windows 2008 R2 with increased security achieved by combining integrated firewall and strict cisco rules. We also ended up with increased reverse DNS compatibility, so AOL started to accept our emails, which were refused due to our ‘bad’ setup. Having felt happy enough, we switched the old primary server to be the secondary one, and then this error appeared on attempt to reload any zone from master server (W2008 R2):

zone not loadedv

Pressing F5 didn’t help. “That’s a problem!” - was my first though. I checked firewalls on both ends, zone transfer settings, name servers and found nothing that could cause this error. While not being a big pro in this area, I decided to verify basic settings, like I’m debugging a program. First, I closed and reopened MMC. Same thing. Okay, what if I restart DNS service and press F5 now? Same thing! Not much was left to try after that, so I just closed and reopened MMC again and - yep, it worked! After this magic I don’t like Windows 2003 together with its DNS service. Especially because I need to repeat the following procedure every time zone is reloaded:

  1. Restart DNS server.
  2. Reopen MMC console.

Luckily, if you don’t touch the system, it seems to be working properly. So, not a big deal, but still a bit of pain in the ass, considering a much more comfortable interface of Windows 2008 R2.


If you ever have to choose between Windows 2008 R2 and 2003 or 2008, go the 2008 R2 way. Better management, less unwanted magic with excessive debugging and other potential problems. One issue is it consumes more memory than 2003. So you sacrifice either memory or management resources - choose wisely.

Victor Zakharov
Victor Zakharov
Web Developer (Angular/.NET)