Double Your Internet Speed for Free

Change your DNS servers for faster internet access

What to Know

This article explains how to find the best DNS servers and make the needed changes on your computer or router to improve speed.

How to Find the Best DNS Server

The DNS is like the internet's phonebook, mapping website names like lifewire.com to a specific computer (or computers) where the site is hosted. When you access a website, your computer looks up the addresses, and the choice of DNS server can affect how fast a website loads.

Person seeing a speedup in internet speed
Hilary Allison / Lifewire

The network settings for your computer, router, or access point allow you to specify which DNS servers—primary and secondary—to use. By default, these are likely set by your internet service provider, but there may be faster ones you can use.

Several utilities can help you find the best DNS server by running benchmarks that test how each server responds specifically to your location. GRC DNS Benchmark is a great tool for Windows and Linux users, and namebench is a quick and easy tool that runs on Mac, too.

Another way to find a fast DNS server is to try one from our Free and Public DNS Servers list. Many offer extra privacy protections, various levels of filtering, and more.

Here's how to use the free open-source namebench utility (it should work similarly in GRC DNS Benchmark):

  1. Download and install the namebench utility.

  2. When you first start it up, you're asked to enter your current nameserver. If it isn't entered for you automatically, you'll have to find it yourself.

    If you haven't changed the DNS servers your computer uses, then the address should be the same as your default gateway. If you know the default gateway, skip this step.

    In Windows, open Command Prompt and enter ipconfig /all. Look for the DNS Servers line. Next to it is the DNS server address.

    ipconfig /all command in Windows 10 Command Prompt

    On a Mac, open a Terminal window by going to Applications > Utilities > Terminal, then enter cat /etc/resolv.conf.

    macOS Terminal window showing the result of cat /etc/resolv.conf command, domain and nameserver
  3. In namebench, type your current nameserver address as you found it displayed above, and then select Start Benchmark.

  4. Wait for a new browser page to open with your benchmarking results. It might take several minutes or longer.

    You'll see the recommended primary, secondary, and tertiary DNS servers that can help you get a faster internet connection speed than what you're getting with the current DNS servers.

    You'll also see a list of tested DNS servers and how long each took to load web pages. Write down the numbers for your recommended servers.

  5. Exit namebench and close the page that opened in the browser.

How to Change the DNS Servers

Now you can change your DNS server on either your computer or your router.

If you use several devices or if many friends and family connect to your network, log in to your router as an administrator to make the change there. That way, every device that gets its addresses automatically from the router is updated with these DNS servers for faster web browsing.

Or, modify the DNS servers on each computer or device. Go to the network adapter settings for your computer, or the Wi-Fi settings on your phone or tablet, and enter the DNS server addresses. Doing this changes the DNS server for that device only.

Results

Our test results showed a 132.1% improvement from using the Google DNS servers over using the stock DNS servers. However, in real-world usage, it might not be exactly that much faster. Still, this one tweak might have you feeling like you have a blazing connection to the internet.

Changing DNS servers can speed up the amount of time it takes to resolve a domain name, but it won't speed up your overall internet connection. For example, you won't see an improvement in average download speeds for streaming content or downloading large files.