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DNS Guide: Why and How to Change DNS Server

Make surfing faster and more secure

by: - Last updated on: August 12th, 2020

A DNS or Domain Name System is one of the most crucial keys to establishing internet connectivity between two different parties — customarily, a client and a server. It acts as a directory, with entries to all websites and their associated IP (Internet Protocol) addresses, present on the internet. Since a large part of the internet’s working is highly dependent on the system, having a faster and secure DNS server aids with better connectivity and offers faster connection speeds and secure access to the internet. To help you with the process of switching to a better and faster DNS server, here’s a guide on how to change the DNS server on both computers and smartphones.

Change DNS Server

Before we get started with how to change the DNS server, let’s first understand, in brief, what DNS does and why is there a need to change it, at all.

What is DNS?

As mentioned initially, a DNS is more like a directory of internet entries that includes domain names and their associated IP addresses. These entries aid with resolving the domain name of a website to its designated IP address, which, in turn, allows the system to establish a connection with the server of the requested website. For instance, when you enter, say, [google.com], the system processes the request and determines the associated IP address for [google.com], say, [172.217.26.236], and presents you with the resultant webpage. By doing so, it saves you the hassle of remembering the IP address for all the various websites on the internet, which can be an arduous task to memorize and recall in large numbers.

Why do you need to change DNS?

The ISP or internet service provider, which is responsible for offering you internet connectivity, by default, has a predefined DNS server (resolver) address for the connection. While this address works fine in most cases, there are times when in certain instances, there could be some issues at the service providers’ end that may obstruct the service, and as a result, render your internet connection slow or completely dead. Moreover, since the DNS used by default directly corresponds with the ISP, your internet traffic can be snooped into in some cases, which can be a warning sign for those concerned about privacy. And therefore the need for a third-party DNS server.

Why change DNS server
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When you use a reliable, trustworthy, and high-performance DNS resolver, you are essentially leveraging that server to make your internet communication faster and protected against DNS-based attacks. Furthermore, those who are still not convinced with what most DNS services have to offer, and are concerned about the privacy and security of their internet connection, can further use the DoH (DNS over HTTPS) protocol to ensure their communications take place over an encrypted channel.
Besides improved speeds and a private and secure communication channel, DNS servers can also help you access the geo-restricted content in your region — allowing it to be used as an alternative to VPN.

Now that we have addressed what DNS is, and why you should consider changing the default DNS on your network to a reliable third-party one, let’s look at the steps on how to change it across different devices.

How to Change DNS Server on a Computer?

Depending on what operating system you use on your computer, be it Linux, macOS, or Windows, you get an option to change the DNS server across all three systems. Changing the DNS server is as simple as clicking through a few settings and entering the address of your preferred DNS server of choice. There are various DNS servers out there, such as Google Public DNS, Cloudflare, Quad9, OpenDNS, and more, which you can choose per your liking and requirement.

On Linux

With Linux, which has numerous distributions out there, the steps involved in changing the DNS server is generally the same across the board. However, with certain distributions, the path to the DNS settings could be slightly different. The following steps are recommended using Linux Mint (19.3 Tricia).

1. Open System Settings and go to Network.

2. In the Network window, select the network SSID (you want to change the DNS for), and click the gear icon next to it.

Change DNS server Linux

3. Now, head to the IPv4 tab and turn off the Automatic toggle.

Change DNS Server Linux

4. Next, in the input field next to DNS, enter the address of the DNS server you want to use.

Chnage DNS Server Linux

5. Hit Apply.

On Mac

1. Head over to System Preferences [command + ,], and select Network.

2. Choose Wi-Fi from the left-hand menu and tap on the Advanced button at the bottom.

Change DNS server Mac

3. In the next window, select the DNS tab from the different options available.

Change DNS server Mac

4. Next, right below the DNS Servers window, hit the plus [+] button and enter a DNS address in the field.

Change DNS server Mac

5. Click OK, and on the next screen, hit Apply.

On Windows

1. Open Control Panel and go to Network and Internet. Here, select Network and Sharing Center, and choose Change adapter settings from the left menu.

2. On the next screen, select the network you want to change DNS for and right-click on it and select Properties.

Change DNS server Windows

3. In the Properties window, scroll down to find Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCIP/IPv4) and double-click on it.

Change DNS server Windows

4. Now, in the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCIP/IPv4) Properties, select the radio button next to Use the following DNS server addresses.

Change DNS server Windows

5. Next, enter the DNS server address you plan to use and also add an alternative DNS server.

6. Finally, click OK.

In most cases, the above changes should work, and you should have the new DNS resolver working in action. However, at times, the changes might not reflect immediately. So, in such cases, to ensure that your internet traffic utilizes the new DNS server, you should flush the DNS on your system to clear the DNS cache. To do this, open Command Prompt with administrator privileges and type in ifconfig /flushdns, and hit Enter.

How to Change DNS Server on a Smartphone?

When it comes to smartphones, both Android and iOS offer you the ability to change the DNS server with the one of your preference. So you can switch to a faster and secure DNS and get better connection and faster browsing speeds from your connection.

On Android

Much-like Linux, which has several distributions, on the mobile side of things, Android has various interfaces, varying from manufacturer to manufacturer. And therefore, the steps to access the settings to change DNS can differ based on your device manufacturer. However, in most cases, the following steps should help you land on the DNS.

1. Open Settings and go to Wi-Fi.

2. Tap and hold on the network SSID you want to change DNS server for and select Properties/Modify network.

Change DNS server Android

3. In the Properties (or Modify network) window, you should see an option for DNS (on some manufacturers) — in which case you can move to the next step. However, if not available, look out for the Advanced settings.

4. Once you locate the DNS settings, change the IP settings to static. And, enter your preferred DNS server address in the associated input field.

Change DNS server Android

5. Hit Save/OK.

On iOS

With iOS or even iPadOS, the steps involved to change the DNS server are the same. So, you can follow the steps listed below to change the DNS server on both devices.

1. Open Settings and go to Wi-Fi.

2. Choose the connection you want to alter DNS for and click on the i button next to it.

Change DNS server iOS

3. On the configuration page, scroll down to find the DNS section.

4. Here, you should see an option that says Configure DNS. Click on it.

Change DNS server iOS

5. Now, in the Configure DNS window, select Manual. And, under DNS Servers, hit the green plus icon that says Add Server.

Change DNS server iOS

6. Finally, type in the address for the DNS server, and exit.

Using the aforementioned steps (listed for different devices), you should be able to change the default, ISP-provided DNS server on any of your devices with one of your preferred choices and get faster and more secure access to the internet.

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