ChatGPT – is a great troubleshooting assistant – latest area – DNS.

If you don’t deal with DNS often, it can be a pain to troubleshoot. When it is working, you don’t touch it. When you need to change it, like when testing new sites (e.g. setting up staging sites on subdomains), I find it challenging at times. Staging sites are often protected, so they are not confused with production site Especially since the DNS is rarely your main focus – you just want it to work.

I use Cloudflare to manage my DNS on all my sites- as I have for 5+ years. It is easy to configure and changes are typically propagated in seconds. It does my CDN/caching – so I can flush that easily if I make DNS changes. But occasionally, I find myself with unexpected behaviors – like redirects.

DNS troubleshooting is the latest activity that I involved ChatGPT with – one of my 500+ exchanges with this remarkable chat-bot over the last month. Here was my exchange in the middle of a chat involved a staging website.

ME: Yes clearing cache on Cloudflare helped, now I am having a issue with an unexpected redirect. How can I trace the source of a redirect on sites that I manage? Here is what is happening: I try to go to staging2.mysite.com and it is redirected to mysite.com. If I go to staging4.mysite.com it works fine and is not redirected. DNS looks the same.

ChatGPT: If you’re experiencing unexpected redirects on your website, there are a few things you can do to trace the source of the redirect:

  1. Check your Nginx or Apache configuration files for any redirect rules. These files are usually located in the /etc/nginx or /etc/httpd directory and should contain any rules for redirecting traffic.
  2. Check the .htaccess file located in the root of your web directory. This file is used to control web server configuration, and it’s where many redirect rules are placed.
  3. Check your WordPress configuration. If you’re using a plugin or theme that includes redirect functionality, it might be causing the issue. You can check the plugin or theme settings or disable them to see if it resolves the issue.
  4. Check for any Cloudflare page rules, if you are using Cloudflare and you have set up page rules that redirects some of your URLs.
  5. Check for any DNS records, if you have any CNAME or A records that redirects some of your URLs.
  6. Inspect the network tab in your browser developer tools, this will give you more information about the redirect that is happening, including the HTTP status code, the location of the redirect, and the number of redirects that are taking place.
  7. Use a tool like curl to check the headers, this will give you more information about the redirect that is happening and the headers that are involved in the process, like the location and the http status code.
  8. You can also try accessing the site using a different browser or device to see if the problem is specific to your current setup.

Most of these I had already checked – but if you had not, you could ask about an of them In my case I asked for help with #7 – Using curl. ChatGPT not only walked me through but help interpret the responses. In my cases, I found out the redirects were generated not by DNS or Cloudflare but by my web server.

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