Optimize Your Browsing: A Guide to Using Public DNS Servers

Mar 2, 2024 | How to, Blog, Troubleshooting | 0 comments

Are you frustrated by slow internet speeds? Worried about security and privacy online? Have you come across websites blocked in your country?

The issue may be with your current Domain Name System (DNS) settings. DNS converts website names to IP addresses to connect your devices. By default, your devices use your internet provider’s DNS servers. However, these often underperform and fail to protect your browsing activity.

The solution is to switch to using public DNS servers. Leading providers like Google, Cloudflare, and OpenDNS offer alternative resolvers that are faster, safer, and more private. Their servers sidestep local censorship to unblock websites.

In this guide, you’ll learn what benefits public DNS provides, which servers to use, and how to easily change settings on Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android. With a few quick tweaks, you can optimize your internet connection.

Why Use Public DNS Servers?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is like the phone book of the internet. It translates domain names like example.com into IP addresses that computers use to connect. By default, your devices use the DNS servers provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). However, there are good reasons to switch to using public DNS servers instead:

  • Faster browsing: Public DNS providers like Google and Cloudflare optimize their DNS servers for high performance. This means they can route DNS queries faster than an ISP’s default servers. Faster DNS resolution translates to quicker load times when accessing websites and online services.
  • Improved security: Companies like Cisco’s OpenDNS and Cloudflare operate secure public DNS resolvers. They proactively block malicious domains and botnet command and control servers. Using these services adds an extra layer of protection against connecting to dangerous sites or downloading malware.
  • Access blocked content: Public DNS providers are not restricted by regional censorship. Their servers bypass government blocks and allow you to access websites and services that may be restricted locally. This lets you view geographically restricted content.
  • More privacy: With ISP DNS servers, all your DNS queries are exposed. Public DNS options like CleanBrowsing and AdGuard DNS run privacy-focused servers that limit tracking and don’t log queries.

So in summary, switching to public DNS servers can provide a faster, more private, and more secure web browsing experience. It takes just minutes to change your settings, and then you can enjoy the benefits across all your devices.

Top 6 Public DNS Servers to Use

There are many public DNS resolver services to choose from. Here are some of the top options to consider using instead of your ISP’s default:

  • Google DNS: Google offers reliable and fast DNS servers at 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. They are optimized for speed and stability. Using Google DNS also gives you access to additional services like DNS-over-HTTPS.
  • Cloudflare DNS: Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1 DNS servers focus on privacy and security. They block threats and do not log user queries. The service is fast and available over both DNS and HTTPS.
  • OpenDNS: Cisco’s OpenDNS service at 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220 provides threat protection by blocking phishing and malware sites. They also offer parental controls through their DNS filtering.
  • Quad99.9.9.9 and 149.112.112.112 are Quad9’s public DNS servers. They block malicious domains while focusing on user privacy and do not permanently store logs.
  • AdGuard DNS: To block ads and trackers, you can use AdGuard’s DNS at 94.140.14.14 and 94.140.15.15. They remove ads and protect against phishing without logging activity.
  • CleanBrowsing DNS: For family-friendly DNS filtering, CleanBrowsing at 185.228.168.9 and 185.228.169.9 blocks adult, porn, and malware domains. They offer a safe DNS resolver.

These are just a few of the most popular public DNS options. It’s worth comparing features to choose the one that best meets your needs for speed, security, filtering, and privacy.

How to Change DNS Server on Devices

Once you decide which public DNS service to use, configuring your devices to use it is straightforward. Here are the steps to change the DNS server settings on common platforms:

How to Use Public DNS Server On Windows 10

  1. Open the Control Panel and click on Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center.
  2. Select your Wi-Fi or Ethernet network connection.
  3. Click Properties and go to the Networking tab.
  4. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4).
  5. Click Properties and select Use the following DNS server addresses.
  6. Enter the preferred public DNS server IP addresses.
  7. Click OK to save changes.

How to Use Public DNS Server On Mac

  1. Go to System Preferences > Network and select your network connection.
  2. Click on Advanced > DNS.
  3. Enter the desired public DNS server addresses.
  4. Click OK and Apply to save the changes.

How to Use Public DNS Server On iPhone and iPad

  1. Open Settings and tap on Wi-Fi.
  2. Select your connected Wi-Fi network.
  3. Tap on Configure DNS and select Manual.
  4. Enter the public DNS IP addresses you want to use.
  5. Tap Save in the upper right corner.

How to Use Public DNS Server On Android

  1. Open Settings and go to Network & InternetAdvanced > Private DNS.
  2. Select Private DNS provider hostname.
  3. Enter the hostname of the public DNS provider you want to use.
  4. Tap Save to apply settings.

Once you use new Public DNS servers on your devices, the changes may take effect immediately or may require a reboot. After that, your internet traffic will use the public DNS and you can enjoy the benefits.

How to Check that Custom Public DNS is Working

After setting up public DNS servers on your devices, it’s important to verify that the settings have been applied correctly:

  • The easiest way is to visit a DNS leak test website like https://www.dnsleaktest.com.
  • This will analyze your current DNS settings and show which servers are being used.
  • Check that the results match the public DNS IP addresses you configured.

Some other ways to confirm your devices are now using custom public DNS servers:

  • Try accessing a website that is blocked locally but accessible via public DNS. If you can now view it, the DNS change was successful.
  • Run a DNS query trace on your command line or terminal to see which server is handling requests. The results should point to the public DNS.
  • Check your router or device network settings. The configured public DNS server addresses should be persisted there.
  • For additional assurance, you can install anti-virus software or firewalls that alert you if another DNS server is ever used.

Taking a minute to test ensures your devices are correctly using the public DNS resolvers. Once confirmed, you can benefit from the improved browsing experience. If you encounter any problems, double check your configuration and refer to the public DNS provider’s documentation for troubleshooting tips. With the proper setup, public DNS servers work seamlessly to optimize and secure your web access.

Conclusion

Using reputable public DNS servers is a simple but impactful tweak to improve your overall internet experience. Faster browsing, enhanced security, and bypassing local blocks – the benefits are substantial.

Switching takes just minutes per device, and the top providers like Cloudflare and Google operate reliable services. Once set up properly, public DNS works seamlessly in the background whenever you access the web.

So don’t settle for your ISP’s default DNS limitations. Follow this guide to start enjoying a faster, safer, and unrestricted internet! Change your DNS settings now and take control of your web browsing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the benefits of using public DNS servers?

Public DNS servers provide faster browsing, improved security, access to blocked content, and more privacy compared to your ISP’s DNS servers.

Is it safe to use public DNS servers?

Yes, reputable public DNS providers like Google, Cloudflare, and OpenDNS are secure to use. They offer reliable service and protect against threats.

Will changing DNS servers affect my internet speed?

In most cases, switching to public DNS will increase your internet speeds due to faster lookups and caching.

How do I know if my DNS server change was successful?

You can verify you are using new DNS servers by running a DNS leak test or checking your router/device network settings.

Can I use public DNS on all my devices?

Yes, you can configure public DNS on desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even routers. The process is very similar.

Will public DNS access blocked websites without a VPN?

In some cases public DNS resolvers can bypass regional blocks, but a VPN provides more consistent access if you need to circumvent censorship.

Which public DNS service is best for security and privacy?

Cloudflare and Quad9 DNS servers focus on security and limiting tracking/logs for better privacy.

How often should I change my DNS servers?

You typically only need to setup public DNS once. No need to change regularly, unless you want to switch providers.

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