How to change to a better DNS server in Windows

Other DNS servers may be faster, safer, more reliable

The domain name system (DNS) is an essential and important part of the internet. Replace the DNS Windows is currently using for one that offers better performance or more features. Here’s how.

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What is DNS?

The domain name system turns website addresses into IP addresses. It is basically a lookup service that is used by the computer to work out how to connect to a particular website.

Websites have a URL (or domain name) like rawinfopages.com, google.com, bing.com and so on. These are easy for people to remember, but computers do not use them.

Instead they use IP addresses, which is a set of four numbers that uniquely identify a web server, computer, email server and everything else that is connected to the internet.

When you type a URL like google.com into a web browser’s address box, the computer sends it to a DNS server, which looks up the IP address and sends it back. The computer can then access the website using the IP address.

Why don’t computers just use the URL? One reason is because it makes it easy to move a website from one computer to another, or from one web hosting company to another. You just update the DNS with the new IP address of the computer with the website.

Faster, safer DNS servers

The performance of the DNS server affects the performance of the internet connection on the computer. The speed with which can reply with an IP address when sent a URL affects the speed of the browser. Faster responses from the DNS means faster web browsing, so it is best to be with a fast DNS server.

The DNS server is responsible for connecting you to websites. If a website is known to contain viruses, spyware, phishing and other malware, it could prevent you from going there by checking the domain name and IP address, and redirecting you to a safe page instead, with a message saying that there is malware ahead, go back!

Some DNS servers protect you from malware and some don’t. It is better to be with one that does.

The reliability of the DNS server directly affects the reliability of your internet connection. If the DNS server is not available, you will not be able to connect to any websites. It is therefore important that it is always online and working properly. Some DNS servers are more reliable than others.

Related: Switch DNS servers with this free utility

Change the DNS servers in Windows

For this step-by-step guide I will be using Windows 10, but Windows 7 and 8 aren’t that different.

1 Show the menu

Go to the right side of the taskbar and right click the network icon. The icon is different depending on whether you connect with Wi-Fi or a LAN cable, but apart from that, everything is the same. Right click the icon and select Open Network and Sharing Centre.

 Right click the network icon and open Network and Sharing Centre in Windows

2 Network and Sharing Centre

When Network and Sharing Centre opens, your active network is shown at the top. The name of yours will be different to mine, but it works just the same. Click the link to the right of Connections.

 Network and Sharing Centre in Windows 10

3 The status window

A status window opens and in my case it is for Wi-Fi, but there is a similar one for LAN connections. Click the Properties button at the bottom.

 The WiFi Status window in Windows 10 shows network information

4 The properties window

The properties window, Wi-Fi or LAN, opens and in the list of items, find Internet Protocol Version 4 and double click it. (You can also click once to select it and click the Properties button.)

 The WiFi Properties window in Windows 10 shows the protocols used

5 DNS server properties

This is most likely what you will see in the properties window. At the top it is set to obtain an IP address automatically, and at the bottom it is set to obtain DNS server address automatically. If it does not, write down whatever it says here so that you can put things back the way they were.

 The Internet Protocol Version 4 window enables you to set the IP address and DNS server addresses

6 Find free DNS servers

A few companies provide alternative free DNS servers that you can use. Go to Google Public DNS and you will see this in the middle of the page:

 DNS server addresses

Go to OpenDNS and down at the bottom of the page is this:
OpenDNS free DNS servers - the addresses you need

It is important to use only reputable companies for DNS services because they control your access to the internet. These two are good ones to try.

7 Set the DNS server

In each case there are two sets of numbers – two IP addresses which each consist of four numbers. Google’s are 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. Enter them into the properties window like this:

 Enter the DNS server addresses into the Internet Protocol Version 4 window in WIndows

That’s it. Click the OK buttons and close all the windows. The computer will now use these DNS servers instead of the ones it was using before.

Google’s DNS servers just aim to be fast and reliable, but OpenDNS servers offer extra protection against malware, spyware and phishing. You can find out more by browsing the website.

If you want to put things back as they were, return to step 5 and set the two automatic options, which clears the boxes, or put back whatever numbers it was using before.

Solve internet problems

To save having to send every website address to a DNS server, Windows stores them. It can then look them up very quickly without having to go online.

Very occasionally, the DNS cache where it stores the DNS information, becomes corrupted. Some internet problems can be cured by emptying the cache, causing Windows to go online and get free information from the DNS server.

To flush the DNS, hold down the Windows key and press R, then enter cmd.

In the command prompt window, enter ipconfig /flushdns


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1 Comment on How to change to a better DNS server in Windows

  1. Scott Penton // 2016/04/29 at 22:01 //

    Good tip, thanks for sharing. There’s a similar way on a Mac too, but good to know.

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