UNIX administrators seem to have all the cool tools and utilities. When a Windows administrator has a problem, it is typically the UNIX administrator colleague who says, “Oh, you can just use blah-blah-blah to fix that.” When the Windows admin tries the fix, the admin quickly discovers that the tool doesn’t exist. Or worse, the utility does exist but is some arcane command line utility with dozens of confusing switches and options.

DIG is one of these utilities that UNIX administrators take for granted but Windows administrators lack. Windows administrators can download freeware command line versions of DIG that work with Windows, but sometimes these versions are difficult to use. Advanced DIG is a GUI version of DIG that works with Windows.

What’s DIG?

DIG is a utility long known by UNIX administrators for troubleshooting DNS servers. DIG tests the DNS queries sent to DNS servers and returns the results of the query in a manner that you can understand. The results of these queries can help you identify problems with your DNS servers. For more information about DIG, see the Daily Drill Down “Use DIG to administer Windows DNS servers.”

How to download Advanced DIG
You can get Advanced DIG from NScan’s Web site, the home of the creator of Advanced DIG. Advanced DIG version 0.4.1 is a freeware utility and includes all of the functionality of a standard DIG program, along with extended functionality that displays any information that can be acquired from the server.

The DIG041.ZIP download from NScan’s Web site is only 90 KB, so it should be a quick transfer. Once you open the ZIP file, you’ll find a single 212-KB executable file called DIG.EXE, a simple, stand-alone file. You don’t have to run any sort of installation program, and you could easily run this version of DIG from a floppy disk if you wanted to.

When you run the DIG.EXE file, you’ll see the DIG interface, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A
The graphical version of DIG is clean and simple as compared with the command line version.

Don’t let the simple interface fool you. While the GUI version of DIG is extremely easy to use, it can provide a wealth of information, just like its command line counterpart. To use the GUI version of DIG, simply input the URL or IP address that you want to look up and the address of your DNS server. You also have the option of selecting your record type from a drop-down menu, and there are check boxes that you can use to enable or disable recursive queries and detailed error messages. Once you’ve entered the appropriate information and settings, simply click either the TCP Lookup or the Winsock Lookup button to initiate the query.

For example, let’s say I want to use Advanced DIG to query all DNS records on my Web site from a DNS server on my private network ( As you can see in Figure B, my results using Advanced DIG were identical to the results you would get from using a command line utility. My suggestion is to use the GUI version if you aren’t doing anything too fancy and to use the command line version when you require greater complexity.

Figure B
The GUI version of DIG produces similar results to the command line version.

The best of both worlds
As one last experiment, I determined that this GUI version can be used from the command line, but with severe limitations. The command line syntax is:
DIG url

The only parameter that you can specify is the URL that you want to test. When you enter a query in this manner, DIG uses the DNS server and the record type from your previous query. The query is initiated the instant that you press [Enter], and the results are waiting as soon as the GUI interface opens.