Using an alternative DNS server can speed up your Internet and enhance your privacy. In this article we will explain when it is worth configuring such a DNS service and what is important when choosing the right service.
Whenever you access content on the Internet, a DNS server is involved. The so-called Domain Name System is responsible for the name resolution: it converts written out web addresses into IP addresses, which are needed to access the corresponding websites. For example, if you enter "netzwelt.de" in the navigation bar of your web browser, your DNS server converts the text input into the IP address "126.96.36.199".
By default, you use the DNS service of your Internet provider for name resolution. If this service is overloaded or down, it may slow down your Internet speed or prevent you from connecting at all. For this and other reasons, using an alternative DNS can be useful. Most such services are completely free of charge.
When is it worth using an alternative DNS?
The configuration of an alternative DNS can be worthwhile for several reasons. You can read about which ones in the following paragraphs.
DNS servers for Internet acceleration
In general, an alternative DNS cannot work wonders at slow surfing speeds, because if the overall speed of data transfer is low, even faster name resolution cannot help. However, if your connection is slow or susceptible to interference, even though the upload and download speeds are actually high, the standard DNS server of your Internet provider could be the problem. In this case it is worth configuring an alternative DNS.
You can check whether your Internet speed overall meets the conditions contractually agreed with your Internet provider by using the DSL Speedtest from netzwelt. If your connection is bad despite good values in the speed test, you should configure an alternative DNS.
Alternative DNS for security and privacy
Even if the performance of your standard DNS is good, it might be worthwhile to switch to an alternative: some ISPs collect your DNS requests and evaluate them for monetary purposes. If you want to prevent this, it is worth using an alternative service. Note, however, that a DNS, unlike a VPN, does not redirect all your traffic - so if you use an alternative DNS, your ISP will not be involved in name resolution, but in theory will still be able to analyze unencrypted traffic. However, considering the extra work involved compared to the convenient "tapping" of data using the standard DNS, this seems less likely.
Furthermore, some DNS services offer a concrete additional benefit in the area of security: corresponding providers block websites that are known to distribute harmful content. To this end, these DNS services work together with IT security companies, based on whose data appropriate blocking is carried out. Although this does not create comprehensive Internet security, it can be seen as an additional level of protection.
DNS server to bypass country blocks
Some DNS services also specialise in circumventing country blocks and thus, for example, enable access to German broadcasting portals from abroad. Conversely, these services allow access from Germany to services that are not normally available here.
We recommend this DNS server
If you search for "public DNS", for example, you will find numerous hits. Many offers are powerful, but by no means all are trustworthy. In terms of security, privacy and speed, the free offer of Quad9, for example, is equally convincing. The DNS is operated by a non-profit organization founded by IBM, Packet Clearing House and the Global Cyber Alliance, which promises not to analyze or share personal data with third parties.
Due to a worldwide developed server infrastructure the provider can always realize very good response times. Thanks to cooperation with 17 renowned security companies, Quad9 maintains a very up-to-date list of malicious websites, whose access can be blocked by the DNS to protect you from viruses and the like. According to the name Quad9 you can reach the DNS service under the IPv4 address "188.8.131.52".
The DNS "184.108.40.206" from Cloudflare is also very convincing. Just like Quad9, Cloudflare guarantees strict data protection standards, and the company also promises enormously fast response times, which are supposed to be significantly below those of the regular DNS servers of many Internet providers. Not included is however the blocking of dangerous websites. Google also offers a solid DNS service, which can be found under the IP address "220.127.116.11". Google's service also does not filter when surfing. However, Google makes less clear promises than other providers regarding the handling of user data.
While most DNS services are free of charge for private users, an exception can be found in those offers that specialise in circumventing country blocks. Click here for a more detailed comparison of the paid services for bypassing geo-blocks.
How to set up a DNS
DNS services can be configured in the network settings of numerous end devices - for example under Windows, mac OS, Android and iOS. But also game consoles and smart TVs offer corresponding setting options. If you want all your network traffic to use the new DNS, you can configure it in the settings of most routers. The following instructions explain how to configure a DNS service for various operating systems.