The Domain Name System (DNS) is very much the underrated hero of the internet world. Everything you do on the internet relies on DNS, and without it, the internet would not work, as it does today. DNS is the internet’s version of the Yellow Pages. Back in the olden times, when you needed to find a business’ address, you looked it up in the Yellow Pages. DNS works in the exact same way, except the process is automated. Your internet-connected computer does that for you and will know knows how to find Google, or Facebook.com.
For example, if you enter www.afl.com.au into your browser, the DNS server translates that into an IP address—in this case, 126.96.36.199. With over a billion websites currently online, it isn’t practical to maintain a list that large. Instead, your DNS server stores a cache for a range of websites.
If you try to access a site that isn’t already cached, then your DNS server will request the entry from another server. Unfortunately, by default, your default DNS server is likely to be provided by your ISP and isn’t guaranteed to be the best performing server. If a DNS server is located far away from you, then your browsing speeds will be impacted.
The infrastructure supporting the internet is a series of copper and optical cables which connect servers around the world. Data is carried across these cables in the form of electromagnetic waves, with speed limited to the speed of light. While we can’t do anything to increase that speed, we can reduce the distance these waves have to travel. When planning a trip with Google Maps, you’re presented with several different travel options. Some of the routes will take less time, even if they cover a greater distance. This could be due to many factors like traffic, transport changes, and average speed.
When selecting a DNS server to increase your internet speeds, you’ll be faced with a similar range of factors. Choosing the most advantageous path is known as route optimization. Some DNS servers, like those provided by ISPs, will experience heavy traffic, especially during peak times.
Changing your DNS settings to a more suited server is often cited as one of the easiest ways to optimize your internet speed.
How to Change DNS Settings
While your ISP likely has its own DNS server, it probably isn’t the fastest option available. Instead, you’ll want to change your operating system’s DNS settings. There are three leading alternative DNS providers; Google DNS, OpenDNS, and Cloudflare DNS.
How to Change DNS Settings on Windows 10
To change your DNS on Windows 10, head to Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing and click on Change adapter settings on the left-hand side.
This opens a list of all available networking devices. You’ll be connected to the internet either via a wired Ethernet port or via a Wi-Fi adapter. Depending on your setup, right-click the internet-connected device and select Properties.
Highlight the option titled Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties. Navigate to the Use the following DNS server addresses option.
In this area enter the following IP addresses, depending on which DNS provider you want to use:
Click Here for a great article listing the best free and public DNS servers
- Google DNS: 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206
- Cloudflare IPv4: 220.127.116.11, 18.104.22.168
- OpenDNS: 208.67. 222.222, 208.67. 220.220
How to Change DNS Settings on macOS
To change your DNS on a macOS device, open System Preferences. From there, click Network > Advanced. On this page, navigate to the DNS tab. Unlike on Windows, you can easily add and remove DNS servers using the + and – buttons on the window’s bottom left. Once you’ve clicked the + icon, you can enter the IP address of your desired provider.