This document is about PowerDNS 4.X. If you have PowerDNS 3.X, please see the PowerDNS 3.X documentation

In a production environment, you will want to be able to monitor PowerDNS performance. Furthermore, PowerDNS can perform a configurable amount of operational logging. This chapter also explains how to configure syslog for best results.


This chapter assumes familiarity with syslog, the unix logging device. PowerDNS logs messages with different levels. The more urgent the message, the lower the 'priority'. By default, PowerDNS will only log messages with an urgency of 3 or lower, but this can be changed using the loglevel setting in the configuration file. Setting it to 0 will eliminate all logging, 9 will log everything.

By default, logging is performed under the 'DAEMON' facility which is shared with lots of other programs. If you regard nameserving as important, you may want to have it under a dedicated facility so PowerDNS can log to its own files, and not clutter generic files.

For this purpose, syslog knows about 'local' facilities, numbered from LOCAL0 to LOCAL7. To move PowerDNS logging to LOCAL0, add logging-facility=0 to your configuration.

Furthermore, you may want to have separate files for the differing priorities - preventing lower priority messages from obscuring important ones.

A sample syslog.conf might be:                       -/var/log/
local0.warn                       -/var/log/pdns.warn
local0.err                        /var/log/pdns.err

Where local0.err would store the really important messages. For performance and disk space reasons, it is advised to audit your syslog.conf for statements also logging PowerDNS activities. Many syslog.confs have a '*.*' statement to /var/log/syslog, which you may want to remove.

For performance reasons, be especially certain that no large amounts of synchronous logging take place. Under Linux, this is indicated by file names not starting with a '-' - indicating a synchronous log, which hurts performance.

Be aware that syslog by default logs messages at the configured priority and higher! To log only info messages, use local0.=info

Performance Monitoring

Both PowerDNS daemons generate ample metrics which can be used to monitor performance. These metrics can be polled using the rec_control and pdns_control commands, and they are also available via the http-based API. Finally, they can be pushed to a Carbon/Graphite server, either native carbon, or our own Metronome implementation.


To launch the internal webserver, add a webserver statement to the pdns.conf. This will instruct the PowerDNS daemon to start a webserver on localhost at port 8081, without password protection. Only local users (on the same host) will be able to access the webserver by default, but we still strongly advise the use of a password protection. The webserver lists a lot of information about the PowerDNS process, including frequent queries, frequently failing queries, lists of remote hosts sending queries, hosts sending corrupt queries etc. The webserver does not allow remote management of the daemon. The following webserver related configuration items are available:

Via init.d commands

As mentioned before, the init.d commands dump, show and mrtg fetch data from a running PowerDNS process. Especially mrtg is powerful - it outputs data in a format that is ready for processing by the MRTG graphing tool.

MRTG can make insightful graphics on the performance of your nameserver, enabling the operator to easily spot trends. MRTG can be found on the MRTG website.

A sample mrtg.conf:

Interval: 5
WorkDir: /var/www/mrtg
WriteExpires: yes
Options[_]: growright,nopercent
XSize[_]: 600


Target[udp-queries]: `/etc/init.d/pdns mrtg udp-queries udp-answers`
Options[udp-queries]: growright,nopercent,perminute
MaxBytes[udp-queries]: 600000
AbsMax[udp-queries]: 600000
Title[udp-queries]: Queries per minute
PageTop[udp-queries]: <H2>Queries per minute</H2>
WithPeak[udp-queries]: ymwd
YLegend[udp-queries]: queries/minute
ShortLegend[udp-queries]: q/m
LegendI[udp-queries]: udp-questions
LegendO[udp-queries]: udp-answers

Target[perc-failed]: `/etc/init.d/pdns mrtg udp-queries udp-answers`
Options[perc-failed]: growright,dorelpercent,perminute
MaxBytes[perc-failed]: 600000
AbsMax[perc-failed]: 600000
Title[perc-failed]: Queries per minute, with percentage success
PageTop[perc-failed]: <H2>Queries per minute, with percentage success</H2>
WithPeak[perc-failed]: ymwd
YLegend[perc-failed]: queries/minute
ShortLegend[perc-failed]: q/m
LegendI[perc-failed]: udp-questions
LegendO[perc-failed]: udp-answers

Target[packetcache-rate]: `/etc/init.d/pdns mrtg packetcache-hit udp-queries`
Options[packetcache-rate]: growright,dorelpercent,perminute
Title[packetcache-rate]: packetcache hitrate
MaxBytes[packetcache-rate]: 600000
AbsMax[packetcache-rate]: 600000
PageTop[packetcache-rate]: <H2>packetcache hitrate</H2>
WithPeak[packetcache-rate]: ymwd
YLegend[packetcache-rate]: queries/minute
ShortLegend[packetcache-rate]: q/m
LegendO[packetcache-rate]: total
LegendI[packetcache-rate]: hit

Target[packetcache-missrate]: `/etc/init.d/pdns mrtg packetcache-miss udp-queries`
Options[packetcache-missrate]: growright,dorelpercent,perminute
Title[packetcache-missrate]: packetcache MISSrate
MaxBytes[packetcache-missrate]: 600000
AbsMax[packetcache-missrate]: 600000
PageTop[packetcache-missrate]: <H2>packetcache MISSrate</H2>
WithPeak[packetcache-missrate]: ymwd
YLegend[packetcache-missrate]: queries/minute
ShortLegend[packetcache-missrate]: q/m
LegendO[packetcache-missrate]: total
LegendI[packetcache-missrate]: MISS

Target[latency]: `/etc/init.d/pdns mrtg latency`
Options[latency]: growright,nopercent,gauge
MaxBytes[latency]: 600000
AbsMax[latency]: 600000
Title[latency]: Query/answer latency
PageTop[latency]: <H2>Query/answer latency</H2>
WithPeak[latency]: ymwd
YLegend[latency]: usec
ShortLegend[latency]: usec
LegendO[latency]: latency
LegendI[latency]: latency

Target[recursing]: `/etc/init.d/pdns mrtg recursing-questions recursing-answers`
Options[recursing]: growright,nopercent,gauge
MaxBytes[recursing]: 600000
AbsMax[recursing]: 600000
Title[recursing]: Recursive questions/answers
PageTop[recursing]: <H2>Recursing questions/answers</H2>
WithPeak[recursing]: ymwd
YLegend[recursing]: queries/minute
ShortLegend[recursing]: q/m
LegendO[recursing]: recursing-questions
LegendI[recursing]: recursing-answers

Sending to Carbon/Graphite/Metronome

For carbon/graphite/metronome, we use the following namespace. Everything starts with 'pdns.', which is then followed by the local hostname. Thirdly, we add either 'auth' or 'recursor' to siginify the daemon generating the metrics. This is then rounded off with the actual name of the metric. As an example: 'pdns.ns1.recursor.questions'.

Warning: If your hostname includes dots, beyond 3.6.2 they will be replaced by underscores so as not to confuse the namespace. In 3.6.2 and earlier, any dots will remain unchanged. See below for how to override the hostname.

Care has been taken to make the sending of statistics as unobtrusive as possible, the daemons will not be hindered by an unreachable carbon server, timeouts or connection refused situations.

To benefit from our carbon/graphite support, either install Graphite, or use our own lightweight statistics daemon, Metronome, currently available on GitHub.

Secondly, set carbon-server, possibly carbon-interval and possibly carbon-ourname in the configuration.

Warning: If you include dots in carbon-ourname, they will not be replaced by underscores, since PowerDNS assumes you know what you are doing if you override your hostname.