DNS servers are on every computer, including yours. It’s the technology that means that when you type Xataka.com in your browser, it connects to our server’s IP to access the content. By default, your computer will connect to your carrier’s DNS, but if you want to maximize your privacy, increase security against attacks or avoid your carrier’s blocking, you have several alternatives in the form of free and paid public DNS.
However, not all DNS to which you can connect are the same, and factors such as their speed, some of their extra security and privacy options, or the simple fact that they have earned a reputation can completely change your experience. That’s why today we bring you what we consider the best DNS to try in this 2020 based on their speed, features and the options they offer.
As we always do in Xataka Basics, we will try to make this list understandable for everyone. Therefore, we will start with a brief explanation of what a DNS is, and then we will go on to list the ones we have considered the best. In each of the ones we mention, we will also add a small explanation with the advantages and disadvantages that you can find with them.
As usual in this type of articles, as we cannot cover all the existing DNS it is possible that we have left out of the list some of the ones that you may consider essential. In that case, we invite you to tell us your suggestion in the comments section to add it if necessary.
What is a DNS and what does it know about you
DNS (Domain Name System) servers have been considered some of the most important technologies for Internet browsing, and they are usually preconfigured in the routers provided by the operators.
Since your Internet Service Provider or ISP gives you a router with a preconfigured DNS, it can know whenever you connect what your IP address is and exactly who you are. Also, government agencies require ISPs to restrict access to specific websites, which is accomplished by placing limits on DNS access.
This is why the using alternative DNS services can be useful. Your computer can change a DNS, and therefore offer much better privacy protections, allowing you to bypass these regional blocks that try to be imposed by limiting access to those used by the operators.
Also, you will see marked improvements in your computer’s response time when looking up pages. You can add an extra layer of security to prevent, for example, DDoS attacks.
Beyond avoiding censorship and providing an extra layer of security against attacks, they are not as effective in preventing your operator from knowing where you are surfing. This is because DNS is an unencrypted protocol, and both operators and VPNs can read where you are surfing with it. Therefore, think of these services as an extra layer of security that you can complement with others and not as a definitive solution.
However, one of the problems with DNS is that, unlike VPNs, they do not usually encrypt or hide your IP address when you are browsing, so they do not prevent other sites or the companies behind the DNS from obtaining certain data about you, such as your IP or the pages you access.
Founded in 2005, OpenDNS has been one of the main references in the world of public DNS for years. Currently owned by Cisco, it is best known for its free service, with which they promise great speeds, or to stay active 100% of the time, blocking of phishing websites by default, or up to 50 types of customizable filters to have absolute control over the pages that can be visited.
They also include other types of options and packages such as a free family plan that blocks adult content by default, a $20 per user payment plan to protect your laptop wherever you go, or another $20 per year family plan with which to obtain usage statistics or even the option to block the computer and only allow access to certain pages that you put in your whitelist, which is how they call the exception lists.