Keep Yourself Online By Changing DNS Servers

There are many ways that you can protect yourself online, but one method many people probably don’t think about is changing DNS servers. Let’s face it, the average Internet user probably doesn’t even give a second thought about their DNS servers. The reality is, however, that changing DNS servers could yield both a security and performance benefit.

The best part is that to take advantage of the increase in performance and security requires no software install. In many circumstances changing two values in your router is all that is needed.

Why Should You Change DNS Servers?

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For those that are unfamiliar with a DNS server, I’ll provide a quick description for you. When you type in a URL in the address field of your browser, that URL is sent to a Domain Name Service (DNS) server for lookup. Servers on the Internet are assigned IP addresses, which are numeric addresses, and each URL is associated with an IP address. A DNS server matches the URL with the correct IP address so you are sent to the correct server on the Internet.

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) utilizes a set of DNS servers to lookup URLs that you access. At times, however, you can run into problems, such as the issue recently with the major Comcast outage resulting from problems with their DNS servers. The problem prevented Comcast customers from accessing the Internet.

What many people don’t know is that they don’t realize they don’t have to use their ISP’s DNS servers, but can choose to use other servers instead. If the Comcast customers were using other DNS servers, they would have been able to access the Internet without problems.

What Are Alternative DNS Servers?

There are currently two popular choices for DNS servers that anyone can use, free of charge. Google’s DNS servers have shown to be some of the quickest available, while OpenDNS has been popular for years. I am currently using the servers provided by OpenDNS.

The main benefit is that both of the companies that manage these DNS servers have several datacenters around the world, so the performance for lookups is fast. OpenDNS goes even further by also allowing you to block specific web sites from being viewed.

If you use a router to connect to the Internet, then there should be a setting in the router’s administrative pages where you can set the DNS servers to use. By changing the DNS setting in the router, you ensure that anyone that uses your Internet connection uses the DNS servers you specified.

I recommend changing to either Google or OpenDNS for your DNS servers to realize both performance and security benefits, and protect yourself in case of a DNS outage.

PG

About Paul Salmon

Paul Salmon is the founder of Technically Easy. He is a an experienced PC user, and enjoys solving computer-related problems that he encounters on a regular basis.

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13 Comments

  1. Rozay84
    Posted February 2, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Why changing DNS setting can allow me to access Netflix USA even if im in Canada. Thnks

  2. Posted October 4, 2011 at 4:41 am | Permalink

    Hm.. It’s a very nice info. Thanks a lot for sharing this, mate!

  3. Luke
    Posted June 19, 2011 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    I started using OpenDNS to access some sites banned by my ISP. I didn’t know about Google DNS whatsoever – gonna try it out !

    • Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      I have been using OpenDNS for some time, and am happy with their service. I have also heard good things about Google’s DNS service, especially the performance of their servers.

  4. Toni
    Posted June 18, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the tips Paul. I never even realized therewas an option to change DNS servers and will give the Google ones a try.

    • Posted June 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Not many people know about changing DNS servers, but changing them from your ISP DNS servers to either Google or OpenDNS can be beneficial.

  5. Posted June 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I have used Google’s public DNS in the past. That was primarily for access fb when I was on holiday in Vietnam. I never realized that I could infact use it to improve my internet performance. Thank you, Paul!

    • Posted June 18, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      Google’s has one of the fastest DNS services available, so for performance, you have chosen a good one.

  6. Stephen
    Posted December 20, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Hi Paul,

    The Windows instructions weren’t very clear to me for the Windows 7 operating system, but I found instructions via Google that were much more clear to me.

    Here’s the link: code.google.com/speed/public-dns/docs/using.html

    (Feel free to delete this if it doesn’t serve the correct purpose, but I found it very helpful.)

  7. Posted December 14, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Hi Paul, I didn’t know that we could do this for our internet connection. Where do we make the change on our system? I’m using Windows 7, does that make a difference?

    • Posted December 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      The best place to change it is in your router, if you use one, since it will then allow all users that connect to your Internet connection to use the DNS servers.

      If you need to change your computer, you would need to specify the DNS servers in the TCP/IP settings, as outlined at Change TCP/IP settings.

  8. Posted December 1, 2010 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I like the general concept of changing DNS and your right it’s a pretty easy process. What I was looking for in this articel was a little more information on the benefits regarding performance.

    I don’t understand how changing your DNS record for a domain will increase website performance.

    • Posted December 2, 2010 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Changing the DNS servers can have an impact on your Internet connection performance and security, since lookups may be faster and you can control which web sites can be accessed.

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