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SSH session slow to start? It's the DNS stupid!

Ever tried logging into a machine with ssh and found you have to wait much longer than reasonable for the session to start? This happened to me a few times and was especially annoying with machines on my local network (or a VM attached to a virtual network) that should be letting me in immediately.

I eventually got mad enough to strace the SSH daemon and debug what was going on and it turns out it's a DNS thing. Basically the session is slow to start because the SSH server is trying to lookup the hostname of the SSH client and for whatever reason it's timing out (e.g., it can't reach a nameserver, because you happen to be offline)

There are a couple of very simple ways to fix that:

  • add "UseDNS no" to /etc/ssh/sshd_config
  • add the client's net address to the server's /etc/hosts

Was that helpful? Has this ever happened to you? Post a comment!


jgab's picture

Hi Liraz, thank you. I was having troubles to access through SFTP to my LAMP appliance installed on Virtualbox on my PC, and the problem was solved when I added "UseDNS no" to /etc/ssh/sshd_config.

(we recently configure a domain on our LAN with a Windows 2003 server)

Great! best regards,

Liraz Siri's picture

Occasionally I wonder whether anyone is finding these blog posts useful. Getting positive feedback is a big encouragement. Oh and sorry for the late reply, I've been monking out offline working on some new stuff!
Tsakos's picture

I haven't had that problem, but i think it's really useful to know that, thanks for that post!

Guest's picture

Had this problem myself and could never be bothered trying to resolve it.

Thank you,


Link's picture


I have been having the exact same issue and was pulling my hair out trying to figure it out!  Thanks for clearing this up for me; both my brain and hair thank you!

Guest's picture


added at least 30mins to my working day...

Guest's picture

I had this same issue and it was really annoying.  I would just walk away after logging in and go mow the lawn.  When I came back, it would almost be done logging in :)


UseDNS no definitely did the trick, now I'm a happy camper!  (but my lawn is growing out of hand)

Guest's picture

I forgot all about this!

Amardeep Sidhu's picture

Sweet !

Thank you ! Just solved this issue on many of the servers.

Cheers !


Niels's picture

Thanks for this info, worked like a charm.


Any idea why the SSH daemon would want to do a DNS lookup? Some form of security?

racecar56's picture

Another solution is to verify that the IP assigned to the hostname in your server's /etc/hosts file is right. If it isn't, that's what's causing your problem. Thank you for this post!

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eggysmith's picture

This took care of my client's ssh issue on multiple servers.
Ryan's picture

This has been bugging me for a while, I'd say at least a year :) Thanks for the info dude.