19 Best Public or Free DNS Servers (February 2023 Tested)

Ruheni Mathenge Last updated: January 31, 2023 Read time: 19 minutes Disclosure

Public DNS servers are an excellent means to protect your privacy, bypass content restrictions, and get faster speeds. Find your best pick right here and enjoy unrestricted browsing to your heart's content.

Sneak peek at using free DNS servers

The internet world is almost entirely driven by Domain Name Servers (DNS). Whenever you connect to a website, you inevitably use a DNS server. Often the DNS servers you use are provided by your ISP, empowering them to regulate your browsing. However, thankfully, numerous free DNS services are now available, enabling you to browse with better privacy and less monitoring, such as Google DNS, Cloudflare, and more.

If there is one thing that every internet user in history has always wanted, it’s faster speeds. But recently, privacy and security have also become a priority. Therefore, an essential component of your internet experience, especially regarding security and transfer speeds, is the Domain Name Server (DNS) you use. That’s where public DNS servers play their role.

But wait, did you feel surprised to know about your DNS use? Well, know that you are using one. Your ISP has assigned you a DNS in its default settings, even if you’re unaware. Yes, the DNS is a feature that remains under the hood of your internet experience most of the time. However, you can change your DNS and pick an option better than your default to experience improved speeds and security. Also, knowing about DNS servers and acquiring the ability to choose one that works best for you makes you a privacy-savvy user.

There are many DNS options out there. Some are free, and some require a subscription. Some of those (even among the free options) are excellent and will improve your experience. But some of them are not so good, and you’d probably be better off staying with your ISP’s default DNS.

But which one should you use? That’s where we come in. After trying many free and public DNS servers to find the ones offering the best service, we list the top free DNS server providers in this article.

Best free or public DNS servers – Quick list

If you want to get to the beef immediately and don’t care very much about the detailed description of every service, here’s the gist of it.

DNS Provider Primary Address Secondary Address
Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 1.0.0.1
Google Public DNS 8.8.8.8 8.8.4.4
OpenDNS 208.67.222.222 208.67.220.220
Quad9 9.9.9.9 149.112.112.112
OpenNIC DNS 144.76.157.242 94.247.43.254
DNS.Watch 84.200.69.80 84.200.70.40
CyberGhost DNS 38.132.106.139 194.187.251.67
Comodo Secure 8.26.56.26 8.20.247.20
CleanBrowsing 185.228.168.9 185.228.169.9
Neustar UltraDNS Public 156.154.70.5 156.154.71.5
UncensoredDNS 91.239.100.100 89.233.43.71
Yandex DNS 77.88.8.88 77.88.8.2
SafeServe 198.54.117.10 198.54.117.11
SafeSurfer 104.197.28.121 104.155.237.225
Control D 76.76.2.4 76.76.10.4
Safe DNS 195.46.39.39 195.46.39.40
AdGuard 176.103.130.130 176.103.130.131
Alternate DNS 76.76.19.19 76.223.122.150
SmartViper 208.76.50.50 208.76.51.51

But before you choose one, remember that there could be a trade-off in some of the best servers regarding speeds; they track, collect and share your information with third parties, thus endangering your privacy. Of course, this is a problem only if you still lack a VPN, which spoofs your IP address.

What is the Domain Name System (DNS)?

Computers (or any other device) know nothing about domain names. Therefore, they can’t connect to a domain or search for it. However, the internet works because of IP addresses, which your computer or browser connects to when you point it somewhere. So when you type any domain into your browser’s address bar, the browser first goes to a DNS server. The server tells your browser the IP address associated with the requested domain name. Then it uses that IP address to connect you.

So web browsing is not as different from phones and names. Of course, you need a name to make a number meaningful to you, but ultimately, it’s the number that matters if you want communication. Hence DNS servers are the web’s yellow pages.

Why use alternative DNS?

So what is the point in picking a DNS other than the one the ISP provides already? We’re glad you asked!

If you have several yellow pages books for a given geographic zone, using one instead of the other can enable you to find people not in every book. That’s what a different DNS can do for you. It shows your browsers a “different” internet, which might better suit the things you want.

So let’s see some examples of how you can have a better internet experience with alternative DNS servers:

  • A different DNS server can help you unblock geo-restricted content.
  • Your speeds can improve.
  • Your ISP can’t keep very close tabs on your activities if you use a DNS server they don’t control.
  • Some DNS providers protect your system from security attacks such as phishing attempts, malware infections, and ransomware.

19 best public DNS servers to use today – Detailed list

Now that you know why you want to use a free public DNS server, let’s move on to the best options to use today.

But before you pick a public DNS server, remember that it’s a public connection, unencrypted, and therefore liable to exposure to third parties. Hence, consider using a good VPN service at all times (NordVPN, for instance) to encrypt all your traffic and ensure minimal risk. Of course, when you use an advanced VPN, you also use that network’s preferred DNS options, as most VPNs include their own private (and secure) servers. So, free DNS options are doubly irrelevant to you.

1. Cloudflare – Offers fast DNS server for gaming