How to Increase DNS Lookup Speed for Improved Performance

DNS lookups, which are part of the Domain Name System, are a big part of how fast your broadband link really is when you use it for things like browsing. In this piece, we’ll show you how to speed up DNS lookups easily and for free by choosing the best and fastest DNS server(s) for your broadband connection. Visit our Increase internet Speed Guide for more tips and guides on how to improve your internet.

DNS stands for the Domain Name System

The Domain Name System is the way that useful website domain names, like google.com or facebook.com, are turned into the IP addresses, like 212.58.244.26 and 74.125.129.94, of the servers that host these websites. All web sites are given an IP address, which is a number that lets them be found on the Internet and is used to identify them.

The IP naming system is a very useful way for computers to identify themselves, but it is not a very good way for people to identify themselves. A domain name, like www.google.com, is basically an IP address that is easier for people to remember.

People are more likely to remember a domain name, and it also gives people more options for how to get to websites on the Internet. For example, Facebook could decide to change the server that hosts its web pages (and, by extension, its IP address) without having to change the domain name.

DNS look-ups slow things down

When you type a domain name into your browser or click on a link, the name needs to be turned into a number called an IP address before the website’s information can be retrieved. This process will always slow down the rendering of an online page, but this delay can be reduced through optimization.

The Domain Name System uses a distributed database design, and there are many DNS servers all over the world. This means that domain names can be turned into IP addresses for all devices, even though IP addresses change every day.

It wouldn’t make sense for all Internet users in the world to use a single DNS server to translate domain names to IP numbers, since a single server would soon be too busy with all the DNS lookups being done. Also, people with broadband who live a long way from the computer would experience big time delays.

Many ISPs run their own DNS servers to help their internet customers translate domain names to IP addresses. A number of third parties, like Google, Cloudflare, and OpenDNS, also offer their own DNS servers, which are called “Public” DNS servers.

DNS delays

The majority of routers provided by ISPs are typically configured to use the DNS servers run by the ISP. This means that the functionality, dependability, and placement of your ISP’s DNS servers affect your browsing experience to some extent.

Your web browsing experience may be considerably impacted if your ISP’s DNS servers are unreliable or slow (for instance, during peak hours). Furthermore, there can be severe DNS look-up delays if your ISP’s DNS servers are situated a long way from you.

Your ISP DNS servers’ performance might be fine; they might just be situated considerably farther away from you than a Public DNS server.

By selecting the following link, you may see the DNS server configurations for the most well-liked ISPs:

USA DNS server settings for UK ISP ISP DNS Server Configuration

DNS look-ups may create a “significant bottleneck” in the surfing process, according to Google, as web pages get more complex and reference resources (like graphics) from several domains.

Three ways to figure out which DNS sites are the best

Since many internet users configure their router to the default settings provided by their ISP, they will automatically use the ISP’s default DNS servers.

The good news is that you can typically select any DNS servers you like, and that the finest Public DNS servers may offer better DNS look-up performance than DNS servers run by your ISP. This is frequently a fantastic performance improvement that won’t cost you anything.

Here are three approaches to choosing the ideal DNS server settings for your connection, listed in descending order of time and complexity:

simply choose some from our “Top Three” Services for public DNS

Download and run software (such as DNS Benchmark or Namebench) that extensively evaluates the available DNS servers to determine the best for your area. Measure the ping to/from many DNS servers and choose the ones with the shortest ping.

Let’s examine each strategy individually.

Method 1: Just pick one of our “Top Three” DNS sites.

Different groups have done a lot of testing on public DNS sites around the world, and we have also done our own testing. Google, Cloudflare, and OpenDNS are three Public DNS providers that always give us good results. You can’t really go wrong if you pick one or more of these at random.

Public DNS servers

Here are some more options for Public DNS services:

ProviderDNS Servers
Google8.8.4.48.8.8.8
Cloudflare1.1.1.11.0.0.1
OpenDNS208.67.222.222208.67.220.222
Quad99.9.9.9149.112.112.112
Level34.2.2.14.2.2.24.2.2.34.2.2.44.2.2.54.2.2.6
Sprintlink204.117.214.10199.2.252.10
NTT129.250.35.250129.250.35.251
Comodo Secure8.26.56.268.20.247.20
Verisign64.6.64.664.6.65.6

Table 1: Public DNS Servers

Choosing the smallest ping after measuring it is Method 2.

Use a DNS server that is physically close to you in order to reduce the distance that DNS lookup requests must travel to the DNS server and the response must travel back to your device.

We advise you to measure the ping for a variety of Public DNS servers (for instance, using our list above) using a computer or mobile phone application. Here are the outcomes we attained:

using our list above). Here are the results we got:

IP address of DNS serverAverage ping (ms)Minimum ping (ms)Maximum ping (ms)
4.2.2.26.87.27.5
129.250.35.2507.06.67.6
4.2.2.17.26.88.2
4.2.2.57.26.87.8
4.2.2.67.26.87.4
9.9.9.97.26.97.8
4.2.2.37.27.07.5
4.2.2.47.27.08.4
204.117.214.107.47.07.8
129.250.35.2517.87.48.4
199.2.252.108.07.69.0
8.26.56.268.68.29.5
149.112.112.11211.110.811.4
8.8.4.411.611.412.0
8.8.8.811.611.412.4
208.67.222.22211.711.412.0
208.67.220.22211.711.412.7
8.20.247.2012.412.112.8
64.6.65.612.911.917.6
1.1.1.114.914.515.4
1.0.0.115.415.016.2
64.6.64.617.315.822.2

Table 2: Ping measurements for DNS servers

Remember that your outcomes can be completely different. In our example, the difference between the best and worst average ping times was significant (approximately 10.5 ms). Additionally, we were intrigued to see that the ping to Google’s DNS servers, which are frequently used by broadband customers to optimize speed, may be reduced at our specific location. This demonstrates how crucial it is to identify the ideal DNS servers to utilize in your particular location as there isn’t a single configuration that works well for everyone.

Method 3: Use DNS Benchmark or Namebench to find the top DNS servers.

Two apps may be of use if you are a perfectionist and want to test a lot of DNS servers:

Namebench (for Mac, Windows, and Linux) DNS Benchmark (for Windows and Linux).

Downloadable software for Windows, including Windows 10, is DNS Benchmark, which may be found at the following website:

https://www.grc.com/dns/benchmark.htm

DNS screenshot

The DNS Benchmark application provides an ordered list of DNS servers after a number of processing minutes.

Namebench can be obtained from the following website and is compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, and UNIX.

https://code.google.com/archive/p/namebench/

Namebench, like DNS Benchmark, examines the performance of your current DNS servers against a variety of alternatives in order to determine the optimal DNS settings to use.

After testing, the software will provide recommendations on DNS settings and signify the speed increase that would result from changing to the recommended DNS settings.

When Namebench is initially executed, it can take several minutes to evaluate the efficacy of all DNS servers tested. To ensure accurate results, please ensure that your broadband connection is not in use during the assessment process.

The following image (click to view in full resolution) illustrates the output of the Namebench utility:

Namebench screenshot

Numerous results are produced using Namebench. Messages like “appears incorrect” or “is hijacked” are false indicators that large web providers occasionally utilize load balancing services, so you shouldn’t be concerned.

The average look-up time in milliseconds (“Avg (ms)”) is the most important statistic in the table. Additionally, minimum and maximum numbers are given to show the range in look-up times. The DNS servers are ranked according to performance, with the top DNS server mentioned first.

In addition, Namebench offers a number of graphs, like the one below (click for full view), that can be used to compare look-up speeds.

Graphs displayed by Namebench

We recommend that you run DNS Benchmark or Namebench multiple times, and at different times of the day, in order to accurately gauge performance.

If we’re being honest, after running DNS Benchmark and Namebench many times, well-regarded Public DNS services such as Google’s DNS service (8.8.4.4 and 8.8.8.8) generally perform very well. Once you are using excellent DNS servers, there’s a law of diminishing returns on extracting more performance.

Change the DNS settings on your computer and other devices

Once you have found the ideal DNS servers, you must make sure that your devices are configured to utilize them rather than the default DNS servers.

entering DNS settings

Most of the time, changing DNS settings in your router is the fastest way to change how your devices use DNS. However, some routers, like the BT Home Hub, don’t let you change DNS server settings. As we’ll see below, you can still change the DNS settings for each device in this situation.

Most likely, you can find the DNS settings on your computer in the DHCP settings. Since every router is different, you may need to look at the manual for your router to figure out how to change the DNS settings.

A screen shot of the Billion 8800AXL is shown below as an example. For the Billion 8800AXL, choose “Configuration” and “LAN” to get to the set-up options. You just put in the IP addresses of the two DNS sites you chose to be the best. Most of the time, we recommend that you enter two DNS names. If a DNS lookup fails with the first DNS server, it will be tried with the second (backup) server on the list.

Billion DNS settings

You can manually change the DNS settings on each individual device, though this might take more time. Changing the DNS settings in the router is typically the most convenient way to propagate DNS modifications across all of your devices. Although you might need to consult your device’s instructions if you are unsure, this is typically extremely simple to perform.

For instance, in macOS, the DNS settings are accessible by choosing ‘Open Network Preferences’, your Internet connection, then ‘Advanced’ and finally the ‘DNS’ page. After that, the DNS addresses can be typed in.