Server unreachable without using VPN, sometimes (This site can't be reached)

Posted May 21, 2020 1.8k views

I’m really at the end of my rope here. The issue started when my domain expired a few days ago. I renewed the domain yesterday and the issues are just not stopping.

I know this sounds stupid. But I have 2 separate DigitalOcean droplets, and both will randomly just stop connecting for random people. One of them just serves a static website of html/js/css files, and one is a node.js app with a reverse proxy.

Both have worked fine for months, with no changes, until my domain lapsed. I’ve renewed my Lets Encrypt Certbot SSL certs for both servers as well, and nothing else has changed.

I can connect to both via a VPN in my same country. Also other people can connect in my country. However many people can not connect in the USA (who were able to before).

Things I’ve tried:

  • I thought it was a caching issue on the server so I deleted the nginx cache folder
  • I thought it was a caching issue on the browser so I tried different browsers
  • I thought it was an issue with the device so I tried different devices
  • I thought it was an issue with the UFW firewall so I disabled it on both servers
  • I thought maybe fail2ban had banned me and select other people so I disabled it

I have NO IDEA what else it could be, but I run an app and am getting angry emails and refund requests!

Static site:
Node App: (Should just display a JSON {error } message

I can not access either one of these sites without using a VPN, nor can most of my customers. The requests do not even show up in the access.log or error.log, they just simply do not get sent to the server at all. If I use a VPN, then no problem. What is going on??

Thank you

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2 answers

Hi Bryan,

I’ve just ran your site through a DNS checker, it doesn’t appear to have any NS records set up. They need to point to these 3 places:

You can do this under ‘networking’ in the digital ocean dashboard. You may also need to login to your account on whichever site you got your domain name from and point towards those 3 name servers mentioned above.

Hope this helps.

EDIT: heres the link

Hi @bryanlcurran,

I can see the subdomain is pinging now. From what you were describing, it does seem like it was a DNS issue. Checking your main domain in DNS history it does state that your NS propagated recently.

In regards to doing some checks shows the DNS has propagated almost everywhere.


  • Hi KDSys,

    Unfortunately the issue still persists. I can not reach currently, nor can some of my clients. Some still can, so you are part of that latter group.

    I need to use a VPN in order to access the site, otherwise Google Chrome simply says: “This site can’t be refused to connect.” and there is no hit registered in the server logs. :/

    The thing is, it does allow me to access it sometimes. Like for a couple hours maybe, and then it just.. stops. Like I haven’t been able to access it for the last 6 hours. I haven’t made any changes to anything since when it was working 6 hours ago to now. I’m going crazy here D:

    • Hi @bryanlcurran,

      This seems like a DNS conflict. You’ll need to check your DNS zone and make sure your DNS is not actually conflicting with something else.

      Usually this behavior is created by a root CNAME record, maybe start with that.