The best DNS servers - Alternative DNS for users and organizations

The best DNS servers - Alternative DNS for users and organizations

The best DNS servers

Alternative DNS servers provide fast and safe surfing of the Internet. For these purposes, we have collected 8 of the best free DNS servers.

Your ISP assigns DNS servers for you every time you connect to the Internet, but these servers are not always the best in terms of speed, security, and privacy. Slow DNS servers can delay the loading of sites, and if the servers fail periodically, you will not be able to access web resources.

Switching to a free public DNS server can go a long way. You will get faster website loading and uptime with minimal chance of technical problems.

Some DNS services can block access to phishing and malicious sites and offer content filtering to help protect your kids from inappropriate content online.

Choose your DNS with care: not all third-party providers will necessarily be better than your ISP's DNS servers. To help you make your choice, we have compiled 8 of the best free DNS servers in this collection.

Cisco Umbrella (OpenDNS)

Advantages+:
Long established on the market
Blocks phishing sites
Additional web filtering{alertWarning}

OpenDNS was launched in 2005 and later acquired by Cisco and is now one of the most well-known public DNS names.

The free service offers many benefits: high speed, 100% uptime, blocking phishing sites by default, web filtering by parental control type, free email support.

Commercial rates allow you to view your browsing history for the last year and set up blocking access to certain resources. An ordinary user may not need these functions, and interested parties will have to spend about $ 20 per year.

Advanced users can instantly get started with OpenDNS by reconfiguring their hardware. For newbies, OpenDNS provides instructions on how to set up Windows PCs, Macs, mobile devices, routers, and more. 

Cloudflare

{getButton} $text={1.1.1.1} $color={#b71540} {getButton} $text={1.0.0.1} $color={#82ccdd}

Advantages+:
Excellent performance
Strict privacy rules
Community Forum Support{alertWarning}

Cloudflare, known for its content delivery network, has expanded its range of services and launched a public DNS service called 1.1.1.1.

Cloudflare places the most emphasis on basic things like performance and privacy. Independent testing by DNSPerf shows Cloudflare to be the fastest public DNS service in the world.

In terms of privacy, Cloudflare promises that it will not use visit data to serve ads and will never write the source IP addresses to disk. All existing logs will be deleted within 24 hours. These statements are not just a marketing ploy. Cloudflare annually engages the audit firm KPMG to analyze its services and publishes reports openly.

1.1.1.1 website provides instructions for setting up the service on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Linux devices, and routers. The guides are generic; for example, you get one set of instructions for all versions of Windows. This approach has some advantages because the user can easily find out where the DNS servers are configured in his system. Mobile users can use the WARP app, which protects all phone internet traffic.

The product does not offer ad blocking and does not attempt to track your searches. However, Cloudflare introduced malware filtering - servers 1.1.1.2/1.0.0.2 - and blocking adult content - servers 1.1.1.3/1.0.0.3.

If you encounter problems, you can contact the community forum, ask questions or see the problems already solved by the forum users.

Google Public DNS

Advantages+:
High reliability and speed of work
Transparency and confidentiality{alertWarning}

Google offers its services in many areas of the web, and DNS is no exception. This is a free public DNS service that will be a simple and effective replacement for your ISP's servers.

Google Public DNS has fairly strict privacy practices. The service stores complete information about the IP address of the requesting device for approximately 24-48 hours for troubleshooting and diagnostics. Permanent logs do not accept personally identifiable information and abbreviate location information to the city level. Moreover, all data except for a small random sample is deleted after two weeks.

Google offers another benefit for power users. If you want to evaluate the significance of Google's privacy policy, then if you wish, you can familiarize yourself with the contents of the service logs.

The Google Public DNS support site offers only the most basic guidelines for power users and warns that changes should only be made by users who know how to customize the operating system. You can always refer to instructions from another service, for example, OpenDNS, without forgetting to replace the IP addresses of the DNS servers with Google: 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4.

Comodo Secure DNS

Advantages:
Focus on safety
Parked Domains Handling{alertWarning}

 

Disadvantages:
Not the best performance{alertError}

The Comodo Group has developed many great security products, so it should come as no surprise that the company offers its own public DNS service.

As you might expect, Comodo Secure DNS has a strong focus on security. The service not only blocks phishing sites, but also warns if you try to visit sites with malware, spyware, or even parked domains that can overload you with ads (pop-ups, banner ads, etc.). Alternatively, you can try Comodo Dome Shield, which adds additional functionality to Comodo Secure DNS.

Comodo talks about the "intelligence" of its DNS service. Comodo Secure DNS detects unused parked domains and automatically redirects you wherever you want to go.

In terms of performance, the company offers a network of servers located around the world and intelligent routing technology.

Comodo is interesting as an additional layer of web filtering. The site has collected some short but useful instructions for setting up the service for Windows PCs, Macs, routers, and Chromebooks.

Quad9 DNS

Advantages:
High level of performance
Blocking malicious domains{alertWarning}

 

Disadvantages:
Little information on setup{alertError}

Quad9 is a young DNS service offering fast and free DNS servers since August 2016.

The company deals with technologies for blocking malicious domains by collecting and intelligent processing of information from public and private sources. The site does not list specific sources but does mention the use of adult content analytics providers. Using a large number of threat intelligence providers should improve filtering performance.

In terms of performance, the Quad9 service ranks 7th in the DNSPerf rating, but in absolute terms, it lags behind the leaders uncritically. When broken down by region, North America performs best, but latency is minimal in other parts of the world.

Quad9 only offers instructions for the latest versions of Windows and macOS. They are quite detailed, so it shouldn't be hard to figure out exactly what you need to do.

Yandex.DNS
Advantages:
Malware protection
Stability{alertWarning}

 

Disadvantages:
Not the highest speed of work{alertError}

Yandex.DNS is a free DNS service from the popular Russian search engine Yandex, launched in 2013. The service offers three different modes: basic (no additional filtering), safe (automatic protection against malicious requests), and family (blocking adult content).

To protect against malicious resources, Yandex.DNS uses search data, the Sophos engine, and Yandex's own antivirus.

The service offers 80 DNS servers located in different locations around the world. The user's request is processed by the server closest to him, which makes it possible to speed up the loading of sites. Currently, Yandex.DNS takes only 10th place in the DNSPerf rating, which indicates not the highest performance compared to other providers.

The service website contains instructions for setting up the service for routers of popular brands, computers, smartphones, and tablets.

If you need high-quality filtering, but the speed of work is not particularly important, then Yandex.DNS will be an excellent domestic alternative to foreign services.


Dignity
Blocking ads, counters, and phishing sites
Support for modern security technologies{alertWarning}

Disadvantages:
Supports encrypted servers only. Configuring DNS over HTTPS in Android, iOS 14, Windows 11, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Opera, YogaDNS.{alertError}

Adguard DNS is a free DNS service from AdGuard, the final version of which was released in December 2018. The service offers two modes of operation: standard and "Family control". The main difference between standard and family mode is that family mode additionally blocks inappropriate adult content.

Adguard DNS supports DNS-over-HTTPS, DNS-over-TLS, and DNS-over-QUIC technologies to encrypt DNS requests.

AdGuard DNS automatically blocks access to known trackers, phishing sites, and add domains. However, it is worth remembering that DNS protection does not allow you to completely block advertising content.

What is DNS?

The Domain Name System (DNS) is often referred to as the Internet address book. It converts human-readable domain names such as yandex.com into IP addresses that computers use to download web resources.

The DNS mechanism is quite complex, because the data is not stored in a single database, but is distributed over DNS servers located around the world.

However, the average user does not need to delve into the technical details. Your ISP automatically provides access to a DNS server, which allows you to access resources on the Internet.

Why is fast DNS important?

DNS servers can vary significantly in speed. This is especially true for regions with poor Internet coverage (Africa, South America, Oceania). According to the DNSPerf service for the Oceania region, the response time of Cloudflare DNS servers is 6.71 milliseconds, and Yandex DNS servers - 309.28 milliseconds. Thus, the user will have to wait an additional third of a second before the browser can access any new site.

Of course, this is an extreme example. In Europe and the United States, the variation between different DNS servers is usually less than 30 milliseconds. In addition, since your device or router is likely to cache addresses for later use, even such delays will rarely occur. In any case, a slow DNS server can significantly slow down the loading speed of web resources, so it is really a good idea to test alternative DNS servers.

Another important criterion is stability, which can be measured by uptime. If your ISP's DNS server is down, you won't be able to access your favorite sites. Major providers like OpenDNS claim that their uptime hasn't dropped below 100% for several years.

How do I test a DNS service?

If the browser displays the "Server IP address not found" error, but you are sure that the target resource is up and available, then the problem may be related to the DNS server.

Windows users can use the nslookup.exe command-line tool to view the results of any DNS server without changing system settings:
  • Run command line cmd.exe
  • Then enter the command nslookup website.com(provide the address of the target website) and press Enter
  • Nslookup will use your standard DNS server to access the site. If the site is not found, then your DNS server does not have an entry for the target domain.{codeBox}
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