DNS (Domain Name System) is usually a tricky part to learn, especially when it comes to configuring websites and servers. However, getting to know how it works will go a long way into helping you understand what goes on behind the scenes. You will understand why it is so important to change DNS now.
Most importantly and actually which is the prime reason for writing this guide, it will help you diagnose problems with configuring access to websites.
We shall, therefore, go through some DNS basics that will surely help you to hit the ground running with your DNS configuration.
This DNS guide should get you to understand the terminologies used in the field, then give you the know-how to change DNS to improve Internet security.
Why Is DNS So Important?
I use the internet a lot, and the chances are that you do too. Even if not a lot, at least you do (After all that’s how you are here). This also applies to your boss, neighbor, friends, family, and even your pet! (Ok, maybe not your pet).
However, did you know this little-known thing (DNS) is one of the pillars on which the internet is built?
As a matter of fact, we would not have the internet without the Domain Name System!
The internet is made up of millions of computers that are connected to large networks. These networks are identifiable and communicate through strings of numbers that are known as IP addresses.
Computers don’t understand domain names, but then neither can our human minds memorize the IP addresses of all sites that we would wish to visit.
That’s where the DNS system comes in.
DNS is a service/ tool that translates domain names into IP addresses.
For example, anonymster.com is a domain name. Its IPv4 address is 126.96.36.199
Without the DNS system, you would have to type the IP address of the Website, to access the homepage. The same would apply to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all the tens of hundreds of websites you access. (Sounds awesome, right?)
You have to agree that you wouldn’t remember many of these and so the DNS system is very useful.
Once you type Anonymster.com on your browser, the system automatically interprets that to 188.8.131.52, and then your computer can communicate with the servers.
Now let’s have a look at some of the commonly used terms that you should know.
We have already seen what an IP address is, but nevertheless we can try to understand it even better.
We can say that an IP address is what we call a network addressable location. One important thing you should understand about an IP address is that it’s unique for every connection within a specific network.
The most common forms of IP addresses are IPv4 addresses. They are written as four sets of numbers, and each contains up to 3 digits, with the sets separated by a dot.
For example, ‘184.108.40.206’ could be a valid IPv4 IP address. ‘111.222.011.01’ could also be a valid IPv4 address. In cases where a set is preceded by zeroes like in the latter case, the IP address is usually written as ‘220.127.116.11’.
With a DNS, we map a name to that address so that you do not have to remember a complicated set of numbers for each place you wish to visit on a network.
As mentioned above, the domain name is the ‘humanly’ part of the website, which you can type on your browser. For example, ‘google.com’ is a domain name.
The URL ‘www.google.com’ is associated with the servers owned by Google Inc. Once you open it, it will direct you and you will be able to access Google servers.
This can be referred to as the TLD. It is the most general part of the domain, and is the furthest part on the right. It’s usually separated by a dot.
The most common TLDs are .com, .net, .org, .gov, .edu and .io
Why Would I Change My DNS?
When you change your DNS, you take the first fundamental step to safeguard your privacy and protect yourself on the Internet.
You DNS are provided by your ISP. If you have a contract with Verizon you are using their DNS and the same goes for AT&T and any other Internet Service Provider (ISP.)
This is where the problem lay.
Your ISP keep logs of your internet activity for many years to come. When you use their DNS, they know every website you visited along the years and all your activity on the Internet.
If you engage in activities like Bittorrent download or P2P, this is for sure a problem.
However, everybody should be worried about that. If the database of your ISP is violated, there could be a major leak of sensitive information about any user whose activity has been stored using the DNS.
If these information, including yours, happen to be in the wrong hands, you are for sure dealing with a serious problem.
Changing DNS you can easily avoid finding yourself in such an unwelcome situation.
NOTE: Changing DNS is a vital step to protect your privacy but it is not equivalent to the protection offered by one of the best VPN connections.
Here is a list of the main reasons why changing DNS is always a good idea;
- First of all, for safety purposes: Changing your DNS improves your privacy as you prevent your ISP from handling DNS requests. Some VPNs also have DNS leaks and therefore are not a sure bet for your DNS privacy. Setting a third party DNS provider is therefore the best security option.
- To avoid internet censorship: Some internet censorship is usually done at DNS level (Otherwise known as DNS poisoning). This can be easily avoided by simply altering your DNSTo be able to use a SmartDNS service
- To fix Internet Connectivity Issues: Sometimes when a VPN connection may drop. Though no longer connected, your DNS may remain pointing to the VPN servers. In order to reconnect to the internet, you may need to change the DNS settings.
Having known some DNS basics and why you would need to change your, lets look at how you can actually change it.
IMPORTANT: The DNS need to be changed even if you use a VPN
Changing DNS Tutorial
In this tutorial, we shall look at changing DNS using both Windows and Android.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Before you change the DNS, take a note of the DNS in use on your device right now. In case something goes wrong, you can easily restore them.
Here are some DNS options you may choose from. You can use these to redirect your DNS traffic from your ISP. Once one of these DNS or any other of your choice are set on your device, your ISP cannot track anymore your activity online.
Google Public DNS
Comodo Public DNS
Changing DNS On Windows
Here is a simple guide on how to change your DNS using Windows 10.
- Access your Control Panel. You can do this by right clicking the Start Menu Button
- Select ‘Network and Internet’
- Go to ‘Network and Sharing’
- Select ‘Adapter Settings’
- Depending on your Internet connection, double click on your adapter.
- Next, open the adapter’s ‘Properties’
- Select the IPV4 Protocol
- The next step is to switch from “Obtain DNS Server Automatically” to “Use the following DNS Server ”Use the following DNS Server Addresses.”
You can now fill the DNS fields with your new DNS IP addresses.
If changing to use a smart DNS address, using the closest servers of your physical location is advised. It will give you better speeds of DNS resolution.
In case you need to use more than two DNS addresses, click on the Advanced button, and use the DNS tab to add, edit, and remove DNS IP addresses.
Click the OK button to apply the settings successfully and then close the control panel.
Note: If you’re using an office computer, consult with the network admin before you change the DNS as it can result to communication problems.
Changing DNS On Android
You can be able to change the DNS for even unrooted Android devices. However, DNS in this Devices can only be changed for connected Wi-Fi Networks.
There is no way to change the DNS settings for Cellular networks (both 3G and 4 G).
As for the Wi-Fi, new connections have to be set up every time you need to connect to a Wifi that had not been set before.
Rooted Android device users can, however, enjoy more freedom as they can change DNS even for cellular networks. This can be done using one of the DNS change apps like DNSet. These apps have the capability to change for you both Wi-Fi and mobile Network DNS.
However, you can still find some apps that don’t require root authority to change your cellular DNS. These work by creating a local VPN on your device. They will still prove useful for evading DNS-based censorship, though normally conflict with a regular VPN.
If you have an unrooted device that you would like to change its Wi-Fi DNS, you can follow the following instructions. Depending on your device’s Android version, these may vary slightly.
- Go to Settings. Here, the first option should be ‘Wi-Fi’. Open it.
- Tap the Wi-Fi network you want to connect to. It should bring you an option, ‘modify network config’. Select this one, then ‘Show Advanced Options’.
- Once you scroll down, you will be able to see ‘IP Settings’. In the drop-down menu, change this to ‘Static’. You can now scroll a little further down. You should be able to see ‘DNS 1’ and ‘DNS 2’ fields.
This is where you should enter your DNS settings.
You can now click ‘Connect’ after you are done.
Changing DNS On Mac
Here is how you can change your DNS on Mac
- Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, then click Network.
- Select the network connection service you want to use (such as Wi-Fi or Ethernet, unless you named it something else) in the list, then click Advanced.
- Click DNS, then click Add + at the bottom of the DNS Servers list. Enter the IPv4 or IPv6 address for the DNS server.
- Highlight the old DNS and click on the symbol “-” at the bottom of the DNS server list to delete them.
- When you’re finished, click OK.
Changing DNS On iOs
Just like Android, iOS does not allow you to change the DNS servers when connected to cellular networks. Also, the changes are network specific, so you’ll need to change the DNS servers every time you connect to a new wireless network.
Fortunately, iOS remembers the settings, so you won’t have to re-enter the settings the next time you connect to the same network.
Here’s how you can change your iPhone’s DNS servers:
- From the iPhone’s home screen, tap Settings.
- Tap Wi-Fi. The screen shown below appears. The available wireless networks in range of your iPhone appear, as shown below.
- Find your wireless network in the list, and then click the arrow. The screen shown below appears.
- Tap the DNS
- Delete the current DNS servers, and enter the new DNS servers.
Remember to separate the servers with commas, if you enter more than one DNS server.
The use of DNS is inevitable as it is a core structure in the backbone of the internet. The above guide should give you some info about DNS, and help you with changing your DNS.
When choosing a VPN for this purpose, make sure that the one you choose has zero DNS leaks.
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