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Best free DNS servers: 8 options to check out

Alex Sheehan

Jul 6, 2022 — 3 min read

Use a DNS server to make your internet safer and faster.

A DNS, or Domain Name Server, is what helps translate human-friendly URLs into computer-friendly IP addresses. This is what enables your devices to connect to the internet and access the content you want to see.

When people change their DNS, it’s usually to enhance either performance, security or both.  And while there are many paid options, we’re always fans of freebies. We’ll take a look at what to consider when switching your DNS and the best free DNS servers to do it with.

What a DNS server is and how it works

Best free DNS servers of 2022

1. Google Public DNS

Google’s own DNS product is also free. It focuses on “speed, security, and validity of results.” It only offers DNS resolution and caching — there is no site-blocking with Public DNS.

2. OpenDNS

Owned by Cisco, OpenDNS has two free options: Family Shield and Home. Family Shield is good for parents who want to make sure their kids can’t access inappropriate content. Home focuses on internet safety and performance.

3. Quad9

Quad9 emphasizes security, privacy and performance — the company was founded on the goal to make the internet safer for everyone. It blocks malicious domains, phishing and malware while maintaining your anonymity. Quad9 is constantly expanding to new regions.

4. Cloudflare

Cloudflare’s free DNS service has unmetered DDoS Protection for Layers 3-7, Global CDN, a shared SSL certificate, three-page rules and unlimited bandwidth.

5. NextDNS

Specializing in malware and phishing attacks, cryptojacking and more, NextDNS offers one free plan that includes unlimited devices, unlimited configurations, access to all features and community support. There are also three paid plans to pick from.

6. Comodo Secure DNS

Comodo Secure DNS’s cloud-based Secure Internet Gateway Gold package is free (up to 300,000 monthly DNS requests). This gets you protection from advanced threats, phishing, malware and C&C callbacks, Web filtering for 80+ content categories, web access policy protection on and off-network and real-time visibility for all connected devices

7. OpenNIC

At its core, the nonprofit, volunteer-run OpenNIC is an attempt to combat censorship. This free DNS server provider makes the entire web accessible to everyone. They also prevent “DNS hijacking” which is when an ISP takes over commonly mistyped URLs.

8. CleanBrowsing

This DNS-based content filtering service has free and paid options. CleanBrowsing focuses on privacy, especially for households with children and can block adult content. Users of the free service are never tracked and paid users can opt to not be tracked.

How to set up a DNS server

Guide on how DNS servers work

Features to look for in a good DNS server

The world of DNS servers can be confusing, but there are a few things to make sure you are checking before you sign up.

  • Pricing: Go for free options whenever possible
  • Privacy: Does the DNS provider collect your data and your ISP address?
  • Speed: How-To Geek recommends “you run a DNS benchmark to find what’s best for your connection.”
  • Safety: If you have children accessing your internet, check for adult-content blocking.
  • Security: Does the DNS provider you’re considering block malware, offer web-content filtering and other security benefits?
Alex Sheehan

Written by:

Alex Sheehan

Contributing Writer

Hey! I’m Alexandra Sheehan, a self-employed content strategist and copywriter for B2B companies in the retail, e-commerce and travel industries. I’ve also written for Verizon, Four Season Hotels and Resorts,… Read more

Robin Layton

Edited by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

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