The DNS, or Domain Name System, acts as a phone book for the Internet to convert between IP address and domain name. By default, your Windows home computer uses the DNS server set up by your ISP. But you don’t have to stay with that server.
Certain third-party DNS services often offer better security and faster performance than your ISP’s.
Such services include Google DNS, Cloudflare, OpenDNS and Comodo SecureDNS. Here’s how to change your PC’s DNS settings to use an alternate provider.
First, let’s see how to change the DNS server settings and then we’ll look at some of the third-party DNS providers. The steps to change the DNS server vary between Windows 10 and Windows 11.
How to change the DNS settings on your Windows PC
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Change DNS server settings in Windows 11
In Windows 11, go to Settings > Network & Internet. Select the option for Advanced network settings. Click the entry for the type of connection you want to change: Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Then select the option for View additional properties.
In the Properties screen, click the Edit button for DNS server mapping. In the Edit DNS settings window, click the drop-down menu for Automatic (DHCP) and change it to Manual. Turn on the switch for IPv4 and type the IP addresses for the preferred and alternate DNS servers in the appropriate fields, remembering to add the dots in the correct places. Click Save.
Do you need to change the IPv6 address?
Since the world has already run out of version 4 IP addresses, we have slowly moved to IP version 6, which offers a much larger number of usable addresses. Does this mean you should also change the DNS servers for IPv6? Not necessary. Most ISPs do not support IPv6 or are still in the testing phase.
You can check if your ISP has jumped on board version 6. Browse to the Test IPv6 website using your current connection. The results will tell you if your ISP supports the newer protocol. If so, most third-party services do provide IPv6 addresses.
Third-party DNS providers
Now that you know the process for changing your DNS server settings, let’s look at some third-party services worth trying.
Google public DNS
Google public DNS is one of the most popular third-party DNS providers, handling name and IP address resolution faster than many other services. Google’s DNS server is designed to protect you from spoofing attacks that try to redirect you to malicious sites. The company’s website for its DNS service shares details about its performance and security features and offers an issue tracker and user forum.
Google public DNS addresses
IPv4: 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199
IPv6: 2001:4860:4860::8888 and 2001:4860:4860::8844
Cloudflare DNS is another alternative DNS provider that aims to be faster than competing services. Cloudflare also promises that it won’t log your IP address, a process used by many ISPs that gives them the ability to log the sites you visit.
Cloudflare DNS addresses
IPv4: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206
IPv6: 2606:4700:4700::1111 and 2606:4700:4700::1001
Owned and operated by Cisco, Open DNS offers two free and two paid packages to consumers. On the free side is the basic package Open DNS HomeWhile the OpenDNS Family Shield plan can block adult content for those of you who have kids at home.
For $19.95 per year, OpenDNS VIP can block web browsing by restricting access to specific whitelisted domains. Priced at $20 per person for up to five users, OpenDNS Prosumer is designed for home offices and small businesses and offers protection against malicious domains.
OpenDNS home addresses
IPv4: 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168
IPv6: 2620:119:35::35 and 2620:119:53::53
OpenDNS Family Shield addresses
IPv4: 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199
Coming from a trustworthy cybersecurity company, Comodo SecureDNS is worth considering if you are concerned about your online safety. The company’s DNS service tries to protect you from phishing attacks and malware. SecureDNS also maintains a real-time list of malicious websites and warns you if you try to access any of them.
Comodo SecureDNS addresses
IPv4: 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206
Change your router’s DNS settings
Finally, you can easily change the DNS settings for all computers and other devices in your home. To do this, log in to your router’s firmware. Look for an Internet or network settings setting and locate the DNS addresses section.
The existing option is probably set to get the addresses from your ISP. Change that to assign the addresses manually, then type in the preferred and alternate addresses of the service of your choice. Change or apply the new settings.