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Fix Windows can’t communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server)

Windows can't communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server) error
7 minutes read

Are you trying to connect to the internet then you get an error “Windows can’t communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server)” thus preventing you from accessing the internet? In this article, I will show you step by step how to resolve the error on Windows 10 Operating System to get you back online.

Check that DNS and DHCP Client Service are Running

DNS and DHCP Client Services are essential for connecting to the internet. To check if the services are running on Windows 10:

  1. Press and hold the Windows key on the keyboard, then press R to open the Run utility.
  2. Type in Services.msc and press OK to open the Services window.
  3. From the list of services, look for DHCP Client and check to see if its running. If it’s not, Right-click and press Start.
  4. Look for DNS Client and make sure its running. If it’s not, Right-click and press Start.

For both, check that the startup type is set to automatic. If not, double click to open dialog and set to automatic on the dropdown list.

Check that DNS and DHCP Client Service are Running
Check that DNS and DHCP Client Service are Running
Check that DNS and DHCP Client Service are Running
Check that DNS and DHCP Client Service are Running

Reinstall your Network Adapter and Drivers

Wrong or outdated drivers can result in “Windows can’t communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server)” error. To resolve, you can uninstall and reinstall your network adapter and drivers. To do it on Windows 10:

  1. Press and hold Windows key on the keyboard, then press X to open the Quick Link menu.
  2. Select Device Manager from the list, then click Network adapters to expand the list.
  3. Select your network device, and Right-click and click Uninstall device.

After uninstalling, Right-click Network adapters and then select Scan for hardware changes. Windows will detect the network device afresh and install default drivers.
Restart your computer and check your internet connection.

Reinstall Windows Network Adapter and Drivers
Reinstall Windows Network Adapter and Drivers

Flush your DNS Cache

To resolve “Windows can’t communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server)” error, you have to flush DNS Cache which requires administrator permissions. To do it:

  1. Press Windows key and start typing Command Prompt to search. Right-click on it from the search results, then select Run as administrator.
  2. Type in the command ipconfig /flushdns then press the enter key on your keyboard.
  3. A message “Successfully flushed the DNS Resolver Cache.” will be displayed. You can then close the Command Prompt.
  4. Try connecting to the internet.
Flush your DNS Cache
Flush your DNS Cache

Reset Windows Connection Settings

This method will flush the IP and the DNS Settings of your computer and it requires administrator permissions. To do it:

  1. Press Windows key and start typing Command Prompt to search. Right-click on it from the search results, then select Run as administrator.
  2. Input the following commands pressing the enter key on the keyboard after each to execute.

ipconfig /flushdns

ipconfig /registerdns

ipconfig /release

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ipconfig /renew
Close the Command Prompt and restart your computer then try connecting to the internet.

At this step, you should have been able to resolve the “Windows can’t communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server)” error. If not, you can go to the next step.

Reset Windows Connection Settings
Reset Windows Connection Settings
Reset Windows Connection Settings
Reset Windows Connection Settings

Change Windows IPV4 and IPV6 Settings

Wrong IPV4 settings or IPV6 settings can cause “Windows can’t communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server)” error. In this method, we will change the IP settings to allow for the IP address to be automatically assigned to the device by the router. To do it on Windows 10.

  1. Press and hold the Windows key on the keyboard, then press R to open the Run utility.
  2. Type in ncpa.cpl and click OK button to open the Network Connections window.
  3. Right-click on the network you are using, then select the Properties option.
  4. Double click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4).
  5. From the General tab, select both Obtain an IP address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically.
  6. Click the OK button to save changes and close window.
  7. Double click on Internet Protocol Version 6 (TCP/IPv6).
  8. From the General tab, select both Obtain an IPv6 address automatically and Obtain DNS server address automatically.
  9. Click the OK button to save changes and close window.
  10. Click the OK button and restart your computer.
  11. Try connecting to the internet.
Change Windows IPV4 and IPV6 Settings
Change Windows IPV4 and IPV6 Settings
Change Windows IPV4 and IPV6 Settings
Change Windows IPV4 and IPV6 Settings
Change Windows IPV4 and IPV6 Settings
Change Windows IPV4 and IPV6 Settings

Reset TCP/IP using NetShell Utility

The NetShell utility is a command based network tool from Microsoft that is used to reset TCP/IP. For detailed instructions on using it, you can view the Microsoft Support Page. Below are the steps you can use to reset TCP/IP:

  1. Press Windows key and start typing Command Prompt to search. Right-click on it from the search results, then select Run as administrator.
  2. At the Command Prompt, enter the following command, and then press Enter:

netsh int ip reset c:\resetlog.txt
If you don’t want to specify a directory path for the log file, run the following command instead then press Enter:
netsh int ip reset
After the command completes running, restart your computer then check your internet connection.

NetShell TCP/IP Utility Command
netsh int ip reset

Use Public DNS

If all the above methods fail to restore your internet, you can use a public DNS like Google or Cloudflare. Revert these changes if internet issue is not resolved. To input a public DNS on Windows 10:

  1. Type in ncpa.cpl and click OK button to open the Network Connections window.
  2. Right-click on the network you’re using, then select the Properties option.
  3. Double click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4).
  4. Click on “Use the following DNS server addresses:” to enable the input boxes below and set the values as following:
Set Public DNS on Windows
Set Public DNS on Windows
Set Public DNS on Windows
Set Public DNS on Windows

Google DNS

To use Google Public DNS, enter them as below:

Preferred DNS server: 8.8.8.8

Alternate DNS server: 8.8.4.4

Google Public DNS
Set Google Public DNS on Windows

Cloudflare DNS

Cloudflare Malware Blocking DNS

To use Cloudflare’s Public DNS, enter then as below:

Preferred DNS server: 1.1.1.2

Alternate DNS server: 1.0.0.2

Cloudflare Malware and Adult Content Blocking DNS

Preferred DNS server: 1.1.1.3

Alternate DNS server: 1.0.0.3

After entering the chosen values, Press OK to save changes and exit. Restart your computer then try connecting to the internet.


To use your ISPs DNS, contact them to give you a list of DNS you can use. It’s important to note that Cloudflare DNS will block Malware and adult content or both depending on the option you choose. This is good to protect kids from security threats and accessing adult content. It may be slower to resolve but you can be rest assured that your kids are safe.

Cloudflare Malware Blocking DNS
Set Cloudflare Malware blocking DNS on Windows
Cloudflare Malware and Adult Content Blocking DNS
Set Cloudflare adult content and Malware blocking DNS on Windows

Restart your Router or Modem

Power off your modem or Wi-Fi router by disconnecting it from the power source then power it back on and try connecting to the internet. The issue causing the connection problem may be resolved.

If the above step does not work, you can factory reset the Wi-Fi router by pressing the reset button at the back of the router for around 5 seconds. But, this should be done by a qualified technician because it needs inputting new router settings including a WIFI password. Please do not do this step unless you have your ISP settings and have experience setting up a Wi-Fi router.

Scan for Viruses and Malware

Viruses and Malware can sometimes block access to the internet by changing configurations or intercepting and blocking packets. You should thus perform a full scan of your computer using your preferred antivirus software or Windows Defender.
If you don’t have an antivirus software installed yet, use Windows Defender to scan by following the steps below on Windows 10:

  1. Press and hold Windows key on the keyboard, then press X to open the Quick Link menu.
  2. Select Settings from the list.
  3. Click Update & Security to open the Windows Update screen.
  4. Click Windows Security on the left.
  5. Click Open Windows Security button.
  6. Click Virus & threat protection.
  7. Scroll down to Current threats.
  8. Click Scan options top open the Scan options page.
  9. Select the Full scan option then click Scan now to perform a full scan.

The scanning will identify any viruses or malware and clean or delete, after which you can retry your internet connection. Always keep your antivirus software up to date by downloading the latest updates.

Scan for Viruses and Malware Windows 10
Scan for Viruses and Malware Windows Defender
Scan for Viruses and Malware Windows 10
Scan for Viruses and Malware Windows Defender
Scan for Viruses and Malware Windows 10
Scan for Viruses and Malware Windows Defender

Conclusion

I hope you managed to resolve the “Windows can’t communicate with the device or resource (primary DNS server)” error by following our guide. Let me know your experience in the comments section below.

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Written by techsmitten

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