How to make Android use the DNS server of your choice

How to make Android use the DNS server of your choice

The Web as we know it today is powered by a technology called the Domain Name System, also known as DNS. It works like an address book for the Internet, linking web servers with the domain names of corresponding websites. DNS is what brings you to Google when you type google.com, so as you can imagine, DNS is a critical part of the internet’s infrastructure.

While most people simply use the default DNS servers provided by their carrier or internet service provider, there are alternative servers. Google’s public DNS has been a popular option for years, and CloudFlare’s 1.1.1.1 DNS is a newer service that’s rapidly gaining ground.

There are many reasons so you may want to change the DNS server your devices use. Some Internet Service Providers are known to log DNS queries (for example, a list of all the sites you visit) and share them with third parties. Some DNS services are even faster than others, depending on how close you are to their servers, which can affect website loading speed.

In this guide, we’ll look at some popular options for DNS services and show you how to change the DNS server on your Android device.

DNS services

The best known custom DNS service is the DNS public by Google . It has servers all over the world, so searches should be fast wherever you are. It also supports DNS over TLS (DoT) and DNS over HTTPS (DoH), so if your OS works with those standards (Android 9+ does), queries are sent over a secure channel. Google claims that the its DNS service does not permanently store any data.

If the idea of ​​all your internet queries on Google doesn’t seem appealing, CloudFlare 1.1.1.1 is another popular option. According to most part of the independent tests , is generally the fastest DNS service available. It also has a nice one app for android which you can use, if your phone doesn’t have a setting for a system-wide DNS server (more on that later).

Other DNS services focus on specific use cases. For example, OpenDNS filters out dangerous and adult-oriented websites at the network level (as long as kids don’t find this article!). Norton ConnectSafe used to be a popular option for protecting against online malware threats, but it was closed in 2018.

How to change your DNS server

The process for setting the default DNS server for Android depends on the Android version running on your phone / tablet. It’s a simple process on newer devices, but older versions of Android make it more difficult.

If you are unsure of your device’s Android version, you can find it by opening the Settings app and going to the About phone menu. The OS version (8.0, 9.0, 10.0, etc.) should be listed somewhere.

Android 9 Pie and later

Android 9 Pie introduced a system-wide DNS setting, so instead of changing the DNS for each individual network, you can do it in one place. However, Android requires the DNS service to support DNS-over-TLS, so not all servers will work. Google’s public DNS was not compatible until a few months after the launch of Android 9.

All you have to do is open the Settings app on your phone, go to the network settings and find the option for a private DNS server. Here you can turn off private DNS (so your ISP’s server will be used), set it to automatic (where Android will try to use DNS-over-TLS with your ISP’s server), or always use a custom server.

android dns settings

You can type a custom server in the address field, but it must be the TLS host name and not just a string of numbers. For example, instead of typing 4.4.4.4 or 8.8.8.8 for Google Public DNS, you have to use dns.google . Instead of 1.1.1.1 for CloudFlare, you would enter 1dot1dot1dot1.cloudflare-dns.com .

Once you hit Save, the setting should take effect. Note that your DNS choice can be ignored when using a VPN or other app that alters your network configuration.

Android 8.1 Oreo and earlier versions

In older versions of Android, the official way to change your DNS server is to manually enter it into each of your network connections (both Wi-Fi and cellular). To make changes to a Wi-Fi network, go to the Settings app, find the Wi-Fi network you are connected to, long press on the network name and select “Change network”. Then activating the advanced options brings up an option for “IP Settings”.

Normally, it will read ‘DHCP’, which is basically the “I’m good at anything; let the Wi-Fi router take care of everything ”. Change this to “Static”, however, and you’ll be able to manually enter as many network settings as you want, including your DNS server. There is a place for both a primary and backup server, which with our Cloudflare example would be 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1.

Unfortunately, changing these settings opens up a host of new problems. For one, you’ll need to manually specify your phone’s IP address and Wi-Fi router gateway. Even if you feel comfortable doing this, these are settings you will probably only want to change for networks directly under your control, such as your home router.

Thankfully, there is a simpler method than this. There are some applications available on the Play Store that use the Android VPN API to route all your DNS requests through a custom server, giving you similar functionality to the system-wide option on Android 9 and above. These not they are VPN apps, the only aspect of your network connection that changes is DNS.

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