How to Change DNS on Android

Get more speed and privacy on Android with a simple configuration

Smartphone laying on black and white world map

Pixabay

Changing your DNS servers on an Android phone just takes a quick dip into the settings app.

DNS stands for Domain Name System and serves as the “phone book” for the internet. DNS is responsible for translating domains (like lifewire.com) to routable IP addresses that can be more easily remembered.

After all, you don’t want to have to remember 151.101.130.114 as the address for lifewire.com. And without DNS, those domain addresses couldn’t be translated to routable IP addresses. That’s why DNS is so important.

Every device that requires access to the outside world (the Wide Area Network, aka WAN), has a DNS server (or two) that tells your phone how to get to a given address. Those addresses are almost always associated with your device carrier (such as Verizon, AT&T, or Sprint) or the wireless network you use.

Those DNS services provided by your carrier or Wi-Fi network might not always be the fastest at translating domains to IP addresses. Or worse, they could be less than secure. Unfortunately, it is not possible to change the carrier DNS of an unrooted device. It is, however, possible to change the DNS addresses when connected to a wireless network.

Considering wireless networks are often less secure than carrier networks, changing the DNS services used might be wise.

This article uses Android 9 (Pie) and Android 8 (Oreo). However, the steps for Android 8 should be similar on previous iterations going back to version 6. The biggest difference will be location of the app settings and the look of the configuration screens.

What DNS Addresses to Use

It might sound challenging to change the DNS of your device manually, but it’s not. Before you do, you need to know what DNS addresses are available to use. The two most popular free DNS services are Google and OpenDNS. You can select either service, as they both function equally as well. Those addresses are:

  • Google: 8.8.4.4 and 8.8.8.8
  • OpenDNS: 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220

Changing DNS on Android 9 (Pie)

Android 9 came with a completely different (and much easier) method of changing the DNS addresses. Instead of having to change the addresses on a per-network basis, you can set alternative DNS addresses in a single location. However, there is one other very important difference.

With Android 9, you cannot configure a standard DNS server (such as Google or OpenDNS). Instead, you have to use what is called DNS over TLS, which is an encrypted form of DNS. These addresses will be domain names and not IP Addresses.

One of the most popular Private DNS services is CloudFlare. The CloudFlare DNS address is 1dot1dot1dot1.cloudflare-dns.com. You can also opt to use the CleanBrowsing DNS service, which has three different DNS servers:

  • Security Filter, which blocks phishing, malware, and malicious domains, and uses the address security-filter-dns.cleanbrowsing.org.
  • Family Filter, which blocks access to adult, pornographic, and explicit sites, as well as sites like Reddit. This uses the address family-filter-dns.cleanbrowsing.org.
  • Adult Filter, which blocks access to all adult, pornographic and explicit sites and uses the address adult-filter-dns.cleanbrowsing.org.

To manually change the DNS on Android Pie, follow these steps:

  1. Pull down the notification shade twice and then tap the gear icon in the bottom left corner of the shade. In the resulting window, tap Network & Internet.

  2. In the resulting window, tap Advanced to reveal the Private DNS entry.

    Gear icon, Network & Internet, Advanced buttons in Android 9 settings
  3. Tap Private DNS, select Private DNS provide hostname and type either the CloudFlare URL or one of the CleanBrowing URLs in the provided space.

    Private DNS, Private DNS provider hostname, and DNS address added
  4. Tap Save to finish.

Changing DNS on Android 8 and Earlier

Next, we’ll configure a Wi-Fi network to use an alternative DNS server on Android Oreo. This method will also work for Android 7 and 6, although the location of some of the settings might vary.

Remember, when changing the DNS address for Android 8 and earlier, it is done on a per-network basis, so you have to do this for any wireless network you want to make use of a different DNS server/service.

Here’s how:

  1. Pull down the notification shade twice, tap the gear icon at the top right corner, and then tap Wi-Fi.

  2. Long press the name of the wireless network to be modified and then tap Modify network.

    Three Android 8 screens showing the gear icon, Wi-Fi button, and Modify network menu item
  3. Tap Advanced options and then tap DHCP.

    Advanced options, DHCP buttons in Android 8 settings
  4. From the popup, tap Static and then tap DNS 1. Type the DNS address (such as 8.8.8.8).

    Two Android 8 screens showing Static and DNS areas
  5. Tap SAVE to finish.

Go through the above process with every wireless network you want to use alternate DNS addresses for. You can even configure different DNS servers for different Wi-Fi networks. For instance, for your home network, you could use the Google DNS address of 8.8.8.8 and for another network you could use the OpenDNS address of 208.67.220.220.

You might find that one DNS server works better with a certain wireless network. Fortunately, with Android, you are able to make such changes to the network configurations.