This document is about PowerDNS 4.0. For other versions, please see the documentation index.

PowerDNS Recursor

The PowerDNS recursor is part of the source tarball of the main PowerDNS distribution, but it is released separately. It is known to power the resolving needs of over 150 million internet connections.

The documentation is only for the 4.0 series, users of older versions are urged to upgrade!

Note: Improved documentation for the master version, the upcoming 4.1 release and the 4.0 is available.

Notable features:

The PowerDNS recursor is controlled and queried using the rec_control tool.


At startup, the recursing nameserver reads the file recursor.conf from the configuration directory, often /etc/powerdns or /usr/local/etc. Each setting can appear on the command line, prefixed by '--', or in the configuration file. The command line overrides the configuration file.

A switch can be set to on simply by passing it, like '--daemon', and turned off explicitly by '--daemon=off' or '--daemon=no'.

All settings can be found here

pdns_recursor command line

All configuration settings from the previous section can also be passed on the command line, and will override the configuration file. In addition, the following options make sense on the command line: