To access the internet you need a proper and speedy DNS server that can quickly translate domain names (like google.com) into IP addresses (like 126.96.36.199). Depending on how quick the DNS server is, your internet browsing experience can be snappy or dreadful.
To find your current DNS server, type ‘ipconfig /all’ at the command prompt and look for the “DNS Server” entry. But, in general, we use the DNS server provided by our ISP, which is usually not that reliable, secure, or fast. In fact, the DNS server provided by your ISP may not even protect you from phishing or malware attacks. Sometimes, the ISP may also use their DNS server to censor a website that the ISP or the government don’t want you accessing.
In those situations, you can simply change the DNS settings within your OS or router to be more secure and access the internet faster and without any restrictions.
Here are some of the free and public DNS servers that are safer and faster than your regular ISP’s DNS server.
Best DNS Servers To Try in 2019
Though Google provides a ton of services, it is first and foremost a search engine. Part of the job of being a search engine is crawling all over the web while resolving and caching all the available and reachable DNS information. As such, it makes a lot of sense for Google to provide users with a speedy DNS service. Thanks to its sheer data center capabilities, a number of data center locations all around the world, and technology, Google Public DNS is one of the fastest and reliable DNS servers out there.
Though Google Public DNS doesn’t offer any dashboard or configurable settings, it does provide basic security to protect users from malicious websites, security threats, DDoS attacks, cache poisoning attacks, etc.
Since DNS queries are sent in clear text without encryption, the intruder can not only see what websites you visit but also can perform spoofing attacks. To prevent this, Google DNS now supports DNS-over-TLS security protocol, meaning the DNS queries are now safe with Google DNS.
Best for: Speed, accuracy, and basic security.
DNS Addresses: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206.
Parental control options: Google Public DNS has no parental controls.
Level of security offered by the DNS: Google protects you from DDoS attacks, phishing attacks, cache poisoning attacks, etc. You can know more about the security features of Google Public DNS from here.
OpenDNS is one of the most popular DNS servers that are not only fast but provides some of the best security to all your connected devices and parental controls to enforce rules on your network.
Moreover, OpenDNS has built-in protection from identity theft and customizable filtering. By default, OpenDNS is configured to block adult content. If need be, you can entirely remove or configure how strict the filter should be and what type of websites to block (ex. adult, gambling, pornography, etc.) directly from the OpenDNS dashboard.
Of course, just like Google Public DNS, OpenDNS also protects you from phishing attacks, malicious websites, cache poisoning attacks, etc.
Best for: Speed, security, and parental control.
DNS Addresses: 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168.
Parental control options: OpenDNS has extensive filtering options to enforce parental control rules. If needed, you can block individual websites or websites related to certain categories.
Level of security offered by the DNS: Offers basic security from cache poisoning, DDoS attacks, malicious websites, phishing attacks, etc.
Price: Free. Some features like domain whitelisting and lock down environment are only available for pro accounts. To get a pro account, you have to pay $19.95 per year.
If for some reason, OpenDNS doesn’t work for you or you need a simple way to implement DNS blocking, then use CleanBrowsing. It works on the same principle i.e. using the DNS server to block Adult websites on the Internet. However, they have an easy to use Android app. We tried it on Oneplus 6t, and it works flawlessly.
Best for – block porn your Network or kid’s iPad
DNS Addresses: 22.214.171.124
Level of security offered by the DNS: The only caveat though is the privacy. Since CleanBrowsing is a relatively new app and all the web traffic is passing through it, it’s not easy to trust. Nonetheless, if you want to set it up on your kid’s device, privacy shouldn’t be an issue.
Price: CleanBrowsing follows a freemium model. In the free version, you get 3 free filters available. In the paid version ($ 5 / month) this limit extends to 12 filters and support up to 100 devices
Generally, to access a website or service that is lock behind geo-restrictions, we use VPNs. As most of you know, VPNs are quite a bit slow when compared to your regular internet connection. This because of the reasons like bandwidth limitations, VPN server location, number of users on a VPN server, etc. However, you won’t face those issues when using Smart DNS Proxy. Unlike other DNS services, the main goal of Smart DNS Proxy is to unlock geo-restricted websites like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, etc.
Do mind that Smart DNS Proxy is not a VPN. i.e, it will not change your IP address and/or encrypt your internet connection. It just unlocks the geo-restricted websites by redirecting all the traffic from their servers. That being said, Smart DNS Proxy has several data centers for speedy and proper DNS resolution. So, Smart DNS Proxy is also quite a bit faster than your typical ISP’s DNS server.
If you are looking for a good service that unlocks geo-restricted websites without sacrificing your internet speed then Smart DNS Proxy is for you.
Best for: Unblocking geo-restricted websites.
DNS Addresses: DNS Addresses will be available in the Smart DNS Proxy dashboard. Depending on the location you chose, the DNS addresses will be different. See this support article for additional details.
Parental control options: No parental control options.
Level of security offered by the DNS: Very basic security, nothing fancy.
Price: Smart DNS Proxy is a completely paid service that costs $4.99 per month. There is a free 14-day trial that requires no credit card.
At first glance, UncensoredDNS looks and sounds very similar to Smart DNS Proxy. In some cases, it is similar to Smart DNS Proxy. But the main goal of UncensoredDNS is not to access the geo-restricted websites. Rather, it is designed to access censored websites.
Take me for example, where I live, my main ISP (Airtel) blocks several file sharing and video streaming websites. For instance, I cannot access Openload video streaming service and I cannot play videos on websites that mainly use Openload as their video storage and streaming service.
In those situations where your ISP is actively blocking some websites or services as part of the state-sponsored censorship, you can use UncensoredDNS to decensor and access those websites. I’ve personally used UncensoredDNS previously and it worked like a charm. The thing you should know before using UncensoredDNS is that the servers are hosted in Denmark and are owned privately by an individual.
Best for: Decensoring websites censored by your ISP or the government.
DNS Addresses: 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52.
Parental control options: No parental controls.
Level of security offered by the DNS: No security. UncensoredDNS just redirects your DNS requests via their servers, that’s it.
6. AdGuard DNS
If you are looking for a DNS server to block tracking and ads on the Internet, give AdGuradDNS a try. Like most DNS service you can either setup AdGuard DNS on your router or use the one tap Android and iOS app.
That being said, Comodo Secure DNS is not an alternative to a firewall or anti-virus software.
Best for: Blocking ads, malware, and phishing sites
DNS Addresses: 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11
Parental control options: Yes, it has a “family protection” servers (18.104.22.168 & 22.214.171.124) that block adult content on the network.
Level of security offered by the DNS: AdGuard provides decent security.
Price: AdGuard DNS is a paid service with the various pricing model. The basic version starts at couple dollars a month for PC or Android, or if you are not a fan of subscription model like I’m then you can also get the lifetime version of AdGuard for around $20.
SafeDNS is very similar to OpenDNS in that it has very extensive parental controls and allows you to whitelist or blacklist websites or a category of websites as and when needed. The filter categories include but not limited to adult websites, gambling, pornography, excessive or intrusive ads, etc.
If you don’t like advertising, SafeDNS can also block most of the ads at the DNS level so that you don’t have to see any advertisements and make the web pages load faster. Moreover, SafeDNS is a member of IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) and automatically blocks any adult and child sexual abuse images.
Of course, as the name suggests, SafeDNS does protect you from malware sites, phishing attacks, DDoS attacks, cache poisoning, botnets, etc.
If your main goal is security and extensive parental control then you should try SafeDNS.
Best for: Security and parental control.
DNS Addresses: 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52.
Parental control options: SafeDNS has extensive options to pick and choose which website or what types of websites your child or family members can access.
Level of security offered by the DNS: SafeDNS can protect you from intrusive or malware infected ads, malware websites, phishing attacks, botnets, DDoS attacks, etc.
Price: SafeDNS is a completely paid service that starts at $19.99 per year for 3 devices.
While Google DNS is known for its speed, today (April 1, 2018) CloudFare has announced a brand-new DNS service, which is currently faster at resolving queries than Google DNS.
As of writing this article, CloudFare is faster than Google DNS or any other DNS.
What separates CloudFare DNS from the rest is the standalone apps for iOS and Android. It not only provides you with an easy way to prevent your carrier from tracking your browsing activity but also help to remove certain websites banned by your government.
Best for: If you need a fastest resolving DNS but don’t want to give your data to Google, CloudFare DNS is the best option.
DNS Addresses: 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11
Parental control options: No parental control options
Level of security offered by the DNS: While CloudFare makes no claims to protect you from intrusive or malware infected ads etc. They do have strict data privacy claims like no logging of IP address and retain KPMG to audit our systems annually to ensure that we’re doing what we say.
Price: CloudFareDNS is a completely free
Wrapping Up: Best DNS Servers
All in all, each DNS service shared here has its own advantages and geared to a specific use case. If you need basic security and speed, choose CloudFare DNS. For parental control, speed, and basic security choose OpenDNS or SafeDNS (Paid). If you just want to access websites censored by your ISP or government then try UncensordDNS. To access the geo-restricted websites, Smart DNS Proxy (paid) will be a good choice.
Even when you configure clients to use a properly configured DNS server they will retain previously resolved DNS addresses. So make sure you flush your previous DNS servers for the changes to take effect.
That’s it for now. Comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using the above DNS servers.