BIND zone file backend

  • Native: Yes
  • Master: Yes
  • Slave: Yes
  • Superslave: Experimental
  • DNSSEC: Yes
  • Disabled data: No
  • Comments: No
  • API: Read-only
  • Zone caching: Yes (except in hybrid mode)
  • Module name: bind
  • Launch: bind

The BIND backend started life as a demonstration of the versatility of PowerDNS but quickly gained in importance when there appeared to be demand for a BIND ‘work-alike’.

The BIND backend parses a BIND-style named.conf and extracts information about zones from it. It makes no attempt to honour other configuration flags, which you should configure (when available) using the PowerDNS native configuration.

Unique to this PowerDNS backend is that it serves from plain zone files, which allows for hand-crafting zone files, only takes a tiny footprint in terms of server resource usage while being performant efficiently.


Because this backend retrieves its configuration from plain files and not a database, the HTTP API is unable to process changes for this backend. This effectively makes the API read-only for zones hosted by the BIND backend.

Configuration Parameters


Location of the BIND configuration file to parse.

PowerDNS does not support every directive supported by BIND. It supports the following blocks and directives:

  • options
    • directory
    • also-notify
  • zone
    • file
    • type
    • masters
    • primaries (added in version 4.9.0)
    • also-notify

Unknown directives will be ignored.


Interval in seconds to check for zone file changes. Default is 0 (disabled).

See Operation section for more information.


Filename to store and access our DNSSEC metadatabase, empty for none. To slave DNSSEC-enabled domains (where the RRSIGS are in the AXFR), a bind-dnssec-db is required. This is because the PRESIGNED domain metadata is set during the zonetransfer.

You can use pdnsutil create-bind-db to make this database file for you.


If this is left empty on slaves and a presigned zone is transferred, it will (silently) serve it without DNSSEC. This in turn results in serving the domain as bogus.


SQLite3 journal mode to set. The default is WAL. Set to empty to leave the journal mode alone.


Store DNSSEC keys and metadata storage in another backend. See the Hybrid BIND-mode operation documentation.


Setting this option to yes makes PowerDNS ignore out of zone records when loading zone files.

Autoprimary support (experimental)


Changed in version 4.9.0: This was called bind-supermasters before 4.9.0.

Specifies file where to read list of autoprimaries. BIND backend only checks IP address of primary server.

The file must contain one IP and account per line, separated by whitespace.

BIND backend can only read this file, not write it.


Changed in version 4.9.0: This was called bind-supermaster-config before 4.9.0.

When a new zone is configured via the autosecondary mechanism, bindbackend writes a zone entry to this file.

Your bind-config file should have an include statement to make sure this file is read on startup.


Changed in version 4.9.0: This was called bind-supermaster-destdir before 4.9.0.

Each new zone configured via the autosecondary mechanism gets a zone file in this directory. This directory must be writable.


On launch, the BIND backend first parses the named.conf to determine which zones need to be loaded. These will then be parsed and made available for serving, as they are parsed. So a named.conf with 100.000 zones may take 20 seconds to load, but after 10 seconds, 50.000 zones will already be available. While a domain is being loaded, it is not yet available, to prevent incomplete answers.

Reloading is currently done only when a request (or zone transfer) for a zone comes in, and then only after bind-check-interval seconds have passed after the last check. If a change occurred, access to the zone is disabled, the file is reloaded, access is restored, and the question is answered. For regular zones, reloading is fast enough to answer the question which lead to the reload within the DNS timeout.

If bind-check-interval is specified as zero, no checks will be performed until the pdns_control reload is given.

Please note that also the slave-cycle-interval setting controls how often a master would notify a slave about changes. Especially in ‘hidden master’ configurations, where servers usually don’t receive regular queries, you may want to lower that setting to a value as low as bind-check-interval.

pdns_control commands

bind-add-zone <domain> <filename>

Add zone domain from filename to PowerDNS’s BIND backend. Zone will be loaded at first request.


This does not add the zone to the bind-config file.

bind-domain-extended-status [domain ...]

New in version 4.3.0.

Output an extended status of a domain or domains, containing much more information than the simple domain status, like the number of records currently loaded, whether pdns is master or slave for the domain, the list of masters, various timers, etc

bind-domain-status [domain ...]

Output status of domain or domains. Can be one of:

  • seen in named.conf, not parsed,
  • parsed successfully at <time> or
  • error parsing at line ... at <time>.


Lists all zones that have problems, and what those problems are.

bind-reload-now <domain>

Reloads a zone from disk NOW, reporting back results.


Reread the BIND configuration file (named.conf). If parsing fails, the old configuration remains in force and pdns_control reports the error. Any newly discovered domains are read, discarded domains are removed from memory.


All zones with a changed timestamp are reloaded at the next incoming query for them.


The BIND backend does not benefit from the packet cache as it is fast enough on its own. Furthermore, on most systems, there will be no benefit in using multiple CPUs for the packetcache, so a noticeable speedup can be attained by specifying distributor-threads=1 in pdns.conf.

Master/slave/native configuration


Works as expected. At startup, no notification storm is performed as this is generally not useful. Perhaps in the future the BIND backend will attempt to store zone metadata in the zone, allowing it to determine if a zone has changed its serial since the last time notifications were sent out.

Changes which are discovered when reloading zones do lead to notifications however.


Also works as expected. The BIND backend expects to be able to write to a directory where a slave domain lives. The incoming zone is stored as ‘zonename.RANDOM’ and atomically renamed if it is retrieved successfully, and parsed only then.

In the future, this may be improved so the old zone remains available should parsing fail.


PowerDNS has the concept of “native” zones that have the type native; in the BIND configuration file. These zones are neither a master (no notifies are sent) nor a slave zone (it will never be AXFR’d in). This means that the replication mechanism for these zone is not AXFR but out of band, e.g. using rsync. Changes to native zones are picked up in the same way as master and slave zones, see Operation.

Native zones in the BIND backend are supported since version 4.1.0 of the PowerDNS Authoritative Server.


Any zone with no type set (an error in BIND) is assumed to be native.