Changing Your DNS Server

Written by Eric Wyatt (last updated May 25, 2020)

When you sign up for the Internet and finally get hooked up, your Internet Service Provider (ISP) will, by default, set your DNS server to that of your provider. The DNS (Domain Name Service) server is responsible for taking a URL (like you enter into your browser) or an e-mail address and translating it into the IP address that corresponds to the domain portion of the URL or e-mail address. An example of this is when you type "Windows.Tips.Net" into your browser, the DNS you use will compare the URL to a list of IP addresses and send you to the site.

Typically, the translation of an address to an IP address happens at speeds you don't notice, typically only taking milliseconds. At times your DNS may be a bit congested, or it might not be a very good server. This can cause your Internet usage to slow down a bit. To increase the speed at which you navigate the web, you might find it helpful to change your DNS server. The question you might be asking is 'why would I want to change my DNS server?' Other than a possible slight improvement in load speeds, the main reason is privacy and security.

While you might be using a web browser's InPrivate mode or incognito mode, this only keeps other users from seeing what you're doing. Truth is everything you send through your ISP is collected. Your ISP collects information regarding browsing habits and every site you visit. Any information that your ISP has connected to your account, they can generate a detailed list of information about you. This is where a public DNS comes in handy. It makes the gathering of information about your web activity harder.

Let's look at changing your DNS server:

  1. Press the Windows key and type (without quotes) "Network Connections," then press Enter. This launches the Network Connections within Control Panel. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. Network Connections within Control Panel.

  3. Select the network connection that you use to connect your computer to the Internet, and right-click, opening a menu. For me, I connect through Wi-Fi, so I would right-click on Wi-Fi. Note that you would need to do this for each connection type.
  4. From the menu click on Properties. This opens the Properties window for your selected connection type. Again, in my instance, it is the Wi-Fi Properties dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  5. Figure 2. Wi-Fi Properties Window.

  6. Under "This Connection Uses The Following Items:" section select "Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4)" then click on the Properties button. This opens the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) Properties dialog box.
  7. Click on the "Use the Following DNS Server Addresses" radio button. This places your cursor in the first box awaiting you to type the DNS server address you wish to use. Enter the Preferred DNS Server address and, if you have one, an Alternate DNS Server address. (See Figure 3.)
  8. Figure 3. DNS server location of the Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) Properties Window.

  9. Click OK to close the dialog box. Your settings will take effect immediately.
  10. Repeat steps 2 through 6 for any other connections for which you want the DNS server changed. (Each connection can use a different DNS server and any you would like.)

As you can see, changing the DNS server your computer uses is simple and fast. You might be wondering what DNS server to use, fortunately, this is easy as well. There are several options available, from Google to Cisco. Each server offers its own pros and cons. Before choosing one see what they offer and how they differ. For example, Cisco's option, OpenDNS, has a couple of options from free to paid tiers. Several offer IP blocking or little to no IP tracking.

Here are a few public DNS options you can check out:

Changing your DNS server can give you a speed boost while providing you some relief from internet tracking activities that your ISP may be engaged in. Before changing your DNS server make sure you have found the one that is best for you.

 This tip (13761) applies to Windows 10.

Author Bio

Eric Wyatt

Eric Wyatt is a swell guy (or so his friends tell him). He is a formally trained designer and branding expert, bringing a wide range of skills to his Tips.Net articles. ...


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