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Servers that accecpt recursive queries can answer dns queries for domains they're not authoritative for, so they'll do the necessary dns queries to their forwarders (if they're configured to use one) or do the necessary iterative queries from root level down until they get to the specified zone and return the answer for their clients.

Servers that don't accept recursive queries won't answer their clients, so clients may retry with iterative queries.

Usually, DNS servers make iterative queries between them and client resolvers make dns queries to the company's dns server(s) or to the ISP's or to one of the public DNS servers (like google's or level3).

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