- Adjusting your Domain Name System (DNS) settings is free and easy to do
- Reasons to change your DNS server may include connection performance, privacy, security, and parental controls
- It’s easy to undo changes you make to your DNS settings at any time
There are a handful of Internet problems that you can fix or improve by changing your Windows Domain Name System (DNS) server or your router. Even if you haven’t experienced any issues, you may notice an improvement in speed or reliability.
Changing your DNS is usually free, easy to do, quick, and you can always reset everything if something goes wrong.
People communicate with words, but computers think in numbers. So when you want to visit a website or use an online service, the desired destination needs to be translated into something a computer will understand.
Generally speaking, a DNS server acts as a translator between the Internet and you, and starts the process of connecting to the desired website or service.
For example, when you visit choice.com.au, your request goes through your DNS server, which in turn starts querying other servers to find the numeric IP address of the CHOICE website, which is 220.127.116.11. Once your DNS server has the IP address, your device can connect to our website. The same goes for internet applications, cloud storage or any other online service.
There are several good reasons to change your DNS, including internet performance, privacy, security, or parental controls.
Your default DNS server is usually hosted by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). While yours may work fine, a free DNS operated by another company, such as Google or Cloudflare, may be faster or more reliable.
Your DNS activity can be monitored and logged. This information can be used for benign purposes such as a company improving its own services, but also to serve advertisements or keep tabs on your movements online, among others.
Web browsers increasingly avoid this by storing a cache of IP addresses, rather than relying on DNS. But it is not guaranteed.
If you are privacy conscious, you might consider finding a DNS service that clearly outlines its privacy policies.
Security and Parental Controls
Some DNS providers block malicious websites or offer parental control features to block certain types of content, although you may have to pay for these features.
Changing the DNS settings of a Windows device is simple. Go to your The start menu > Settings > Network & Internet.
Scroll down to “Advanced Network Settings” and click Change adapter options.
Next, right click on your active internet connection and select Properties.
Click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) to highlight it (don’t uncheck the toggle next to it). Once highlighted, click Properties.
In the second section of this window, click the toggle next to Use the following DNS server addresses and enter the primary and secondary addresses for your desired DNS.
These are Cloudflare’s DNS addresses, but there are many other options available to you.
Check Validate parameters on exit and click OKAY. It’s a good idea to test your connection by visiting a speed test website through your browser such as speedtest.net.
If you ever want to go back to your default DNS, reset the toggle to Obtain DNS server address automatically.
Your router’s settings menu may allow you to change the DNS through which your household’s connection passes, as long as those devices are configured to use a default DNS and not a specific DNS.
The method of changing the router’s DNS settings depends on the router. You’ll usually find a sticker on the bottom with instructions on how to access its settings. But it’s a good idea to search the web for information on how to adjust DNS settings for your router brand and model, rather than digging through menus yourself.
Lots of options available
There are many free and paid DNS services, many of which can meet your needs in different ways. Some have a specific purpose such as speed, privacy, security, parental controls, or a mix.
Probably the most popular free options are Cloudflare, Google, and OpenDNS.
- Cloudflare addresses are: 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124
- Google’s addresses are: 126.96.36.199
- The OpenDNS addresses are: 188.8.131.52
But browse around to see what works for you.
Archive footage: Getty, unless otherwise noted.