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Domain Name Servers (DNS) are the internet’s equivalent of a phone book, holding all the domain names found online and turning them into IP addresses. While we may not see that there is a need for this as we can remember domain names, computers run differently and need IP addresses in order to function. With that in mind, this article will outline the very best providers of DNS servers out there.
DNS servers use specific software in order to reach each other and pass on the information. Though DNS servers do make things a lot easier for us when surfing online, it is important to remember that they are still vulnerable and can suffer from a range of attacks. This means that it is very important that you have an anti-malware protection system in place.
In most cases, there are two DNS servers operating on your system. Both the primary and secondary servers will be configured to your router, which can be helpful because if one fails, the other can pick up the slack. Throughout the rest of this article, we will discuss the features of various DNS server providers, showing you which ones are the best and why.
For those familiar with changing their DNS, here’s a reference table with primary and secondary server addresses.
|Best free and public DNS Servers|
|Provider||Primary DNS||Secondary DNS|
|Verisign Public DNS||18.104.22.168||22.214.171.124|
Google Public DNS
- Primary DNS: 126.96.36.199
- Secondary DNS: 188.8.131.52
Of course, Google was going to be the number one pick on the list of free DNS servers. Google Public DNS was started in 2009 and has enabled millions of internet goers to enjoy a great online experience.
Google Public DNS offers complete support for IPv6 connections, allowing you to meet any requirements needed to set up this type of connection. It offers great security and is great for those users who aren’t always able to access the internet with fast internet speeds. The bonus is that its free for everyone.
- Primary DNS: 184.108.40.206
- Secondary DNS: 220.127.116.11
OpenDNS is another one of the most popular public DNS servers. This one is geared towards power users. Not for the uninitiated, this DNS server provides a great server replacement for those who are looking to have complete control over their settings. There are two options, Personal and Business, both of which have dedicated parental controls, excellent speed, and great phishing protection.
The Personal version is free, but for the extra features, there is a payment plan in place if you are keen to try out those extra controls. Really, the only downside here is that it can be a bit confusing for users that aren’t power users.
- Primary DNS: 18.104.22.168
- Secondary DNS: 22.214.171.124
CloudFlare is considered one of the fastest DNS services, if not the fastest, out there. Though it is one of the newest DNS services available, it has quickly made its mark thanks to its great speed. This high speed means that it also has great uptime when it comes to websites, which also stands strongly in its favor.
It’s not just a great DNS server provider because of its speed though – it also offers up a completely private interface which is also unfiltered. It has both DNSoverHTTPS and DNSoverTLS as well as a nice collection of other extra features. This DNS server is actually so good, there are no downsides we can think of.
- Primary DNS: 126.96.36.199
- Secondary DNS: 188.8.131.52
Quad9 is another new server, specifically aimed at those users who want to have a smooth online experience. While it might be hard to find the fastest DNS servers nearby, as locations of individuals do change, Quad9 is a great option to look at as it has very reliable up times and speeds. It also is great in the protection department as it can block malicious domains.
To round off these features, it is also completely free making it one of the best DNS servers on the current market. If there was a downside, we’d have to say that the security protection can be a little bit too much at times.
- Primary DNS: 184.108.40.206
- Secondary DNS: 220.127.116.11
DNS.Watch is another server that is among the top fast DNS servers out there. While not as fast as some (we’re thinking Google and CloudFlare here), DNS.Watch still provides great up time and good speeds. It operates under DNS neutrality so there is no change in the performance when you’re using it and it doesn’t allow any intrusions.
It’s also completely free, which is always a bonus. To use it, your IP addresses need to be changed to 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124. As if all this wasn’t enough, it can be used on almost all devices including Windows, Mac and Linux systems. The one weakness this server has is a lack of top security features.
- Primary DNS: 126.96.36.199
- Secondary DNS: 188.8.131.52
OpenNic DNS is many people’s preferred DNS server provider. Like many of the other options, it offers great speed when connecting to the internet. It also strictly adheres to DNS neutrality, allowing you to easily surf the internet across the globe – it does not put anything in the way to prevent any site access.
Also, when you are using it you can get the ISP DNS hijacking free. You can choose the perfect DNS server from them simply by going to their website and looking at the options that are available and what your needs are. It is also really easy to setup, but this fact and the global accessibility makes it not so great for those with children.
- Primary DNS: 184.108.40.206
- Secondary DNS: 220.127.116.11
Level3 deserves a high up spot on the best DNS servers list. It offers a streamlined performance that is supremely reliable. This is possibly due to the fact that Level3 is also the provider of a network service that needs to have high-end hardware, allowing it to offer a premium experience.
Both speed and user experience are touted as being among the best there is. Level3 works very well with all types of routers, but there is the possibility of some slow moments every once in a while.
- Primary DNS: 18.104.22.168
- Secondary DNS: 22.214.171.124
Yandex DNS offers some of the oldest high speed DNS servers around. There is also no real down time, meaning that websites tend to run smoothly and well most of the time. As well as offering good speed, it is great for users who wish to block malicious domains that pop up now and again when you are surfing the web.
It still remains highly popular, beating out many of the newer services that have cropped up in recent years. There is a rather significant downside though in that Yandex DNS does not really have that many security features in place so that some of your surfing can be exposed.
- Primary DNS: 126.96.36.199
- Secondary DNS: 188.8.131.52
Neustar DNS is another provider offering some of the best DNS servers to use. There are five main benefits of using it. It gives quick access to any websites and offers great protection from a range of threats including malware, ransomware, phishing sites and even spyware.
It’s also a great family-friendly oriented site helping to protect those members who are underage and giving parents the option to block these sites as they choose. The icing on the cake is that it’s also secure for businesses preventing any data getting compromised. The last factor in its favour is that it offers great customisation to its users no matter how and where they are using it.
- Primary DNS: 184.108.40.206
- Secondary DNS: 220.127.116.11
As there are many types of DNS servers, all with different main features, we felt it prudent to point out that some, like GreenTeam DNS, actually focus all their attention on top-notch security. It’s so good at this that it has been able to keep thousands of malicious websites blocked from its users. These dangerous sites range from the standard malware through to adult-related sits and bots.
Even with this incredible protection in place, GreenTeam DNS still allows users to have great control over what they wish to do online. You can even make premium accounts for even more control, though you will have to pay for these ones.
- Primary DNS: 18.104.22.168
- Secondary DNS: 22.214.171.124
Another great server that helps to protect families against unwanted online content is CleanBrowsing DNS. This is one of the best global DNS servers as it specifically aims itself at those who are concerned with security around the world.
It blocks a large number of adult sites as well as offers further features in the form of both DNSCrypt and also DNSoverHTTPS ensuring the highest level of security is offered. All of these features mean that the DNS servers are also extremely private. But for users who don’t want filtered access to their internet browsing, this is definitely not the server for you as everything will be filtered through it for security and protection reasons.
- Primary DNS: 126.96.36.199
- Secondary DNS: 188.8.131.52
This provider offers some of the best DNS servers for gaming. Comodo Secure has a winning combination of speed, safety and reliability. It is able to offer this excellent product through the fact that the company operates a large network. If you are interested in ensuring the very best online performance, you can to select the best server in relation to your location.
It also offers great layer security, preventing you from getting access to harmful websites. If you wish to change your IP addresses to use this great server you just need to input the numbers 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11. There are no noticeable downsides.
- Primary DNS: 18.104.22.168
- Secondary DNS: 22.214.171.124
UncensoredDNS is one of the services that is operated privately. This means that it is able to offer a very large number of features, which include high levels of security, reliability and speed.
Those users who are in Denmark are able to have an even more optimised performance online if they use 126.96.36.199. Anyone using an IPv6 connection will be able to access the server through these IPs 2001:67c:28a4:: and 2a01:3a0:53:53::. Though it does still operate very well for those around the globe, it is the Danish users that will reap the best benefits.
- Primary DNS: 188.8.131.52
- Secondary DNS: 184.108.40.206
Similar to UncensoredDNS, FreeDNS has a specific country where it works better for users than anywhere else in the world. In this case, it is Austria that reaps the rewards for this DNS server. Anyone in the surrounding area would also do well to choose this server if they are looking for great up times and speeds during their online activities.
The server is also very private, claiming that they don’t log any data so that your search results and online activities will actually remain private and none of your information will be sold to third parties without your knowledge. The only downside is for those who are not near Austria as this may result in a poor experience.
- Primary DNS: 220.127.116.11
- Secondary DNS: 18.104.22.168
Safe DNS offers a very strong content filtering system, meaning that users will find it hard to deviate into areas of unprotected internet. This means that you are unlikely to come across adult online content, malware and anything else that would be less than family friendly. This means that it is truly one of the best DNS servers for those that have young families accessing the internet.
It’s not just this protection that makes it great, it does have good speeds and high up time levels. Similar to other DNS servers of this type, it is not great for those users who wish to have unfiltered access to the internet.
Verisign Public DNS
- Primary DNS: 22.214.171.124
- Secondary DNS: 126.96.36.199
Last, but by no means least on this list, is the Verisign DNS server that offers a really great secure browsing platform.
The company itself has been at pains to specify that they will not collect your data so that you won’t be added to unwanted company lists. It also makes sure to protect its users from dangers or malicious sites, offering information on them so that users don’t access these sites by accident and download malware to their computers. The server is highly reliable offering such decent speeds along with the other features that there really isn’t a downside at all.
Final words on best DNS servers
At the end of the day, it doesn’t entirely matter which DNS server you are using. Each have their best elements in terms of simple browsing, video streaming or online gaming and there are other elements that will affect your overall enjoyment as well.
Even with some stellar features, there are occasions where a top quality DNS can still be overwhelmed by high traffic or some other issue, meaning that you may find yourself disappointed on occasion. There is nothing stopping you from trying out a variety of DNS servers until you find a provider that really suits you. However, you might get lucky and find the perfect one from the get-go.
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Mikaela is an investigative journalist that likes to cover the ever-changing world of technology. She tries to keep her finger on the pulse of digital trends and share her insights on the most relevant topics, including big tech, security, privacy, and data breaches.