Have you ever been frustrated by slow internet speeds? You pay a boatload of cash to your internet security provider and then your connection is spotty and slow. It can be really frustrating.
There are many things that could be causing delays in your connection speed. We'll go over each of these things at the end of the article, but for now, we're going to focus on your DNS, or Domain Name System.
What's that, you ask? A DNS is essentially a map of the internet. Think of it like a road map, with all of the web addresses you frequently visit, and millions more that you don't.
When you sign up for internet, your provider assigns you to its DNS server. However, that isn't always the best one to use. It could be bogged down with traffic, running inefficient software or any number of other problems.
If your computer can't look up IP addresses quickly, it seriously slows down your browsing. Fortunately, there are other DNS servers out there you can use.
Keep in mind that speed isn't the only reason to choose a new DNS. Many DNS systems include filtering to block inappropriate websites or other sites you don't want to see.
Why your DNS server matters
While having your ISP assign you your DNS servers automatically is convenient, it opens up its own set of issues. Depending on your provider, their DNS systems can be slow and inefficient, gumming up your internet speeds.
Another issue is security. Using your ISP's DNS servers allows them to track your internet activity like searches and the sites you visit, opening up all sorts of privacy issues.
To address these concerns, plenty of tech companies are opening up their own speedy and secure DNS systems to the public.
The phone book for the internet
A DNS or domain name system is often called the phone book for the internet. It's actually a critical component of how the whole internet works and it can dictate how fast and secure data is delivered to you.
Here's a simple way of putting it. A DNS server translates the IP addresses of websites to domain names that are easier to read and remember (for example, Google.com is translated to the IP address 126.96.36.199 and vice-versa). The communication between your computer and a DNS system is critical in order to correctly direct your web traffic.
The best DNS servers you can try
There are many free options for alternate DNS servers out there but here are the most popular and reliable ones out there. Some, like Quad9 and CloudFlare, even have built-in security features.
How to switch your DNS server on Windows
1. Pull up Network Connections by right-clicking on the Start menu.
2. Now click on "Change adapter options." You'll see your current network; right click and choose Properties.
3. Select Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and click Properties.
4. Type the DNS server addresses into the preferred and alternate DNS server fields:
For this example, we're using OpenDNS (but you can put other servers in these fields too):
5. Click OK
How to setup your DNS on a Mac:
1. Open System Preferences, then select Network. Click on the Advanced button.
2. Next, go to the DNS tab.
3. Click the plus (+) sign on this tab, then type your preferred DNS server address.
In this example, we're using Quad9's DNS server (but feel free to enter other DNS servers of your choice):
4. Press OK and you're set!
Note: You'll need administrator rights to make these changes.
How to setup your DNS on an iPhone:
1. Open your Settings app then tap Wi-Fi
2. Tap your preferred Wi-Fi network to access its setting
3. Tap Configure DNS then select Manual
4. Delete your existing DNS servers by tapping the minus sign then "Delete" button
In this example, we're using Cloudflare's DNS servers (but feel free to enter other DNS servers of your choice):
5. Tap the "+ Add Server" button then type 188.8.131.52
6. Tap "+ Add Server" again then type 184.108.40.206
7. Tap Save to lock in your settings
How to change your DNS on Android:
Changing the DNS settings on an Android gadget is harder than on an iPhone but you can download and use a free but ad-supported app called DNS Changer.
1. Once DNS Changer is installed, open the app, choose "Custom DNS (Enter manually)" in the drop-down box.
2. In this example, we'll be using Google's DNS servers but you can input other DNS servers too. Just type in the numbers on the provided fields
3. Click Start and the app will connect to the internet via a local VPN network using the specified DNS servers.
Other tips to speed up your internet connection
Router problems: Replace an old, outdated router with a new one. New models are more efficient and can produce a stronger signal.
Dead zones: Use a Wi-Fi extender to increase the range of your router throughout your entire home. With Wi-Fi extenders, you can increase your internet speeds for around $50. Click here to learn more about how they work, and see one of our favorite models.
Connection speeds: If your internet service provider is found to be the source of the slow speeds on your network, you have a few options. One, you can talk to them and see if another plan that they offer would better meet your needs. Or two, you can switch service providers altogether. A different provider may have a better infrastructure in your area.
Thieves: The easiest way to prevent thieves from accessing your network is to secure your network with a strong firewall and password. Here's how you can find your router's current password and change it. And here's a free firewall you can download to keep unwanted guests out.
Psst... Want more network tips? Click here for more ideas to boost internet connection speeds throughout your home.