Why Changing DNS Settings Increases Your Internet Speed
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Over the past two decades, technological developments have dramatically improved internet speeds. Back when dial-up was the standard method Types of Internet Access Technologies, Explained Types of Internet Access Technologies, Explained What kind of internet access do you have? Broadband? Satellite? Fiber? Here's our breakdown of internet connection types. Read More to connect to the internet, even waiting for a low-res image to load gave you time to go make a coffee. These days, broadband and fiber connections have created lightning fast networks where even HD media can be loaded in a just a few seconds. That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement.

While network speeds are constrained by our ISPs What Is ISP Peering? Why Your High-Speed Internet Is Slow What Is ISP Peering? Why Your High-Speed Internet Is Slow Do you have trouble with video streams and buffering even though you have high speed Internet? The problem may rest with your ISP. Read More , there are a number of changes we can make Why Is My Wi-Fi Is So Slow? Here's How to Fix It Why Is My Wi-Fi Is So Slow? Here's How to Fix It Wondering why your Wi-Fi is so slow? This article explains fast, easy ways to fix and speed up your Wi-Fi internet connection. Read More to improve them. These range from Windows tweaks How to Speed Up Your Internet With 7 Windows Tweaks How to Speed Up Your Internet With 7 Windows Tweaks Here's how to improve your internet connection speed in Windows with simple tips and tweaks anyone can use. Read More , replacing your ISP’s router 7 Reasons Why You Should Replace Your ISP’s Router 7 Reasons Why You Should Replace Your ISP’s Router Your ISP sent you a router when you signed up and it works fine. But is it giving you the best speeds possible? Read More , or switching between Wi-Fi and Ethernet Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet: Which Should You Use and Why? Wi-Fi vs. Ethernet: Which Should You Use and Why? The world is going wireless. Does that mean it's all over for Ethernet? Read More connections. You can even find out if your ISP offers channel bonding, which could double your internet speeds.

Changing your DNS settings is often cited as one of the easiest ways to optimize your internet speeds—but what exactly is the DNS and how does changing it improve your speed?

What Is DNS?

When you enter a website’s URL into your browser, it needs to be translated into the site’s IP address in order to send and receive data. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the digital equivalent of a phonebook, providing a number (IP address) for a given name (URL). For example, if you were to enter “www.makeuseof.com” into your browser, the DNS server will translate that into an IP address—in this case

DNS entry table

With over a billion websites currently online, it wouldn’t be practical to maintain a list that large. Instead, your DNS server will have cached the data 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. Your default DNS server is likely to be provided by your ISP, and isn’t guaranteed to be the best performing server.

Fortunately, there are other DNS servers The Best Free Dynamic DNS Providers You Should Try The Best Free Dynamic DNS Providers You Should Try With DynDNS gone, here are the best free dynamic DNS providers, services, and DDNS alternatives to replace it. Read More available to you.

A Question of Geography

The infrastructure which supports the internet is a series of cables—either copper or optical—which connect servers around the world. Data is carried across these cables in the form of electromagnetic waves, with a 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. If a DNS server is located far away from you, then your browsing speeds will be impacted.

Map of the world
Image Credit: Khakimullin/Depositphotos

However, the reality of the internet is more complex than simple distance calculations would have you believe. Google Public DNS is one of the most popular DNS server alternatives and uses two IP addresses ( and These are known as anycast addresses, with multiple servers around the world responding to requests from these addresses. The servers responding to the requests vary throughout the day depending on network conditions and traffic. Despite responding to your queries from servers around the world, it is consistently ranked as one of the fastest DNS servers

Google Public DNS logo

They have achieved this by working with Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to attach location data to DNS requests. In most cases, if you were to use a Canadian DNS server, then the CDNs would assume that you are in Canada. This has an impact on loading speeds, and the content you see will be optimized for a Canadian audience. Google, along with OpenDNS, now attach your IP address to the DNS requests. This means that the data is loaded from a server local to you, which improves your overall internet speed.

DNS Route Optimization

When planning a trip with Google Maps, you’ll be presented with a number of different travel options. Some of the routes will take less time, even if they cover a greater distance. This could be due to a number of 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.

Google Maps route

Some DNS servers, like those provided by ISPs, will experience heavy traffic, especially during peak times. Some servers may have outdated records, or inefficently route your data. The connection between the DNS server and your machine is only one part of the puzzle. This is because the site you want to access may require data from other sites like adverts or videos.

DNS configuration recommendations

The complex interplay between servers and connections makes route optimization integral to improving your internet speeds. Your ISP’s DNS server may be located close by. However, their one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to offer you the best performance. This is where a tool like Google’s Namebench comes in handy. It offers a free speed test to help you find the fastest DNS to optimize your internet speed Find the Fastest DNS to Optimize Your Internet Speed Find the Fastest DNS to Optimize Your Internet Speed Other DNS servers can be faster than your ISP's DNS servers. Find the best DNS settings for your connection with these tools. Read More . Namebench analyzes your connection, and recommends the best DNS servers tailored specifically to you.

The Need for DNS Speed

Under the management of Dave Brailsford, the British Olympic Cycling team became one of the most successful of all time. They ultimately won seven out of ten gold medals at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. The secret to their success was Brailsford’s commitment to the principle of marginal gains. This is the principle that many small improvements bring about significant overall improvement.

While there is no silver bullet to improve internet speeds, we can make numerous smaller tweaks and improvements. These improvements work together to increase our overall internet speed—and the DNS servers play a important role. Changing your DNS server isn’t a one-trick pony either 5 Nifty Ways to Use DNS to Your Advantage 5 Nifty Ways to Use DNS to Your Advantage One of the most underappreciated parts of the internet is the Domain Name System. DNS is often referred to as the phonebook of the internet, but it is far more than just a lookup service. Read More . Alternative DNS servers can even offer greater security and privacy 4 Reasons Why Using Third-Party DNS Servers Is More Secure 4 Reasons Why Using Third-Party DNS Servers Is More Secure Why is changing your DNS a good idea? What security benefits does it bring? Can it really make your online activities more secure? Read More than your default options.

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  1. Viraj Pradhan
    March 13, 2018 at 9:58 am

    Thanks,Mr.Frew for your reply.

  2. David H
    March 1, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Quad9 DNS uses

  3. coco
    February 27, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    Best dns for Europe : AdGuard dns. Removes 90% of ads, trackers etc...

  4. Sandor
    February 27, 2018 at 4:07 am

    Check out DNS benchmarking tool at Gibson Research Corp (https://www.grc.com/dns/benchmark.htm).

    • James Frew
      February 27, 2018 at 10:46 am

      Thanks for the suggestion. It looks very similar to Namebench though, and doesn't seem to be in active development. Compatability is still listed as Windows 95 to 7.

      • Viraj
        March 11, 2018 at 12:53 pm

        Dear Mr.Frew,
        Please let me know if there are any Global Settings for DNS,or they are nation specific. I am not computer savvy and hence the question.
        Will the settings for a specific nation become redundant with a VPN installation and

        Thanking You ,


        • James Frew
          March 13, 2018 at 6:59 am

          The country the DNS server is based in will have an effect on which sites it stores. If, for instance, you wanted to bypass censorship, choosing a DNS server in a country that doesn't censor the site will allow you to perform the DNS lookup. The VPN would make a difference too, but many VPN providers allow you to set your own DNS settings.

  5. Adam
    February 27, 2018 at 1:14 am

    Thanks to this ingenious article, I will save .1 seconds each day! Thanks! Now I have time to work on my More Useless IT Information blog.

    • James Frew
      February 27, 2018 at 10:47 am

      No problem Adam. Glad we could help. Thanks for taking the time to read the article!

      • Gagan Bhat
        February 27, 2018 at 2:07 pm

        It's sad that you totally missed the sarcasm in his comment.

        • David Stark
          February 27, 2018 at 3:52 pm

          Or maybe you totally missed the sarcasm in the reply.

        • leon
          March 2, 2018 at 10:12 pm

          He didn't miss anything...he was handing the sarcasm back to you. You have been served.

      • Kia
        February 27, 2018 at 3:10 pm


  6. dragonmouth
    February 26, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    To make sure I use the fastest DNS, I've been running namebench regularly for a couple of years. In all that time Google DNS never came up as one of the fastest. Oh, well.

    • James Frew
      February 27, 2018 at 10:48 am

      It didn't for me either!