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You have set up a new DNS server on your machine and you have no clue whether it’s working or not.

Well, there are ways to check it. You can do it natively through the command line or with the help of third-party apps.

Let’s get started!

What is a DNS?

The term DNS stands for Domain Name System.

It’s basically known as the Phonebook of the internet because humans can’t access information online through IP addresses, they have to remember the Domain names such as Google.com or Wikipedia.org.

On the other hand, Web browsers interact through IP (Internet Protocol) addresses only and the DNS Systems translates those Domain names to IP addresses so that browsers can load the content.

How does it work?

The DNS (Domain name system) server converts the Domain names (example – wikicat.net ) to Equivalent IP addresses (such as 192.168.1.1).

IP addresses are similar to our home addresses.

For example, If someone wants to visit us then they need to follow the right address in order to reach us.

Similarly, if someone wants to visit a particular website then they need to follow the right IP address of that server on which the website is stored.

Why Use Different DNS Servers?

One reason you might want to change the DNS servers assigned by your ISP is if you suspect there’s a problem with the ones you’re using now.

An easy way to test for a DNS server issue is by typing a website’s IP address into the browser.

If you can reach the website with the IP address, but not the name, then the DNS server is likely to have issues.

Another reason to change DNS servers is if you’re looking for a better performing service.

Many people complain that their ISP-maintained DNS servers are sluggish and contribute to a slower overall browsing experience.

Yet another common reason to use DNS servers from a third party is to prevent logging of your web activity and to circumvent the blocking of certain websites.

Know, however, that not all DNS servers avoid traffic logging. If that’s what you’re interested in, make sure you read through the FAQs on the DNS provider’s site to make sure it’s going to do (or not do) what you’re after.

If, on the other hand, you want to use the DNS servers that your specific ISP, like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast/XFINITY, etc., has determined is best, then don’t manually set DNS server addresses at all—just let them auto-assign.

Finally, in case there was any confusion, free DNS servers do not give you free internet access!

You still need an ISP to connect to for access—DNS servers just translate between IP addresses and domain names so that you can access websites with a human-readable name instead of a difficult-to-remember IP address.

The Priority of DNS

Before we get started, it’s important to understand the priority of DNS.

We all know, by default we use the DNS servers provided by our Internet service provider.

But what happens when you entered a DNS on your local machine or router?

Which DNS gets the priority now?

Now here is the thing, if you change the DNS server on the router (let’s say Google DNS), then every device connected to the router will automatically start using Google DNS as the DNS Server.

However, on top of that, if you change the DNS server on your local computer to let’s say Cloudflare DNS, then these settings will override the DNS settings of the router.

Now, only your computer will use Cloudflare DNS as the DNS server while the rest of the devices will still use Google DNS.

So, if we rank the priority of DNS servers, it is going to be something like this,

  1. If you’ve entered a custom DNS address on your computer or smartphone, that DNS will be used.
  2. If you have not entered any custom DNS on your device, then the DNS available on the router will be used
  3. If you have not entered any custom DNS on your computer and router, then DNS provided by your ISP will be used

1. The easy way – Check Online

The quickest way to check what DNS server you are using is to use online sites like WhatsMyDNSserver. Simply go to the website and click on the button that says – “What’s my DNS server?“.

And it’ll show your current DNS server.

But this method is not error-free. Even after changing the DNS, it still picks up old DNS from the cache.

For instance, I changed my computer’s DNS from Google DNS to Cloudflare, but the site still says, I was using Google DNS – even after restarting my Mac.

Finally, I was able to fix this problem by reopening the site on the incognito window.

If you are experiencing a similar problem, you can either clear your DNS cache or flush your DNS.

Other DNS providers such as Cloudflare also provide a section on their website which can detect if you are using Cloudflare DNS, you can access that webpage from this link.

Similarly, if you have switched to OpenDNS, you can check your DNS server from this link.

2. What DNS Server Am I Using on Windows 10/8/7

There are multiple ways to check the DNS Server you are using on Windows.

Here is a couple of them.

Method 1

To check the DNS Server you are using on Windows, simply open up the command prompt.

To do so on Windows 10, click on Start, then All Programs, then Accessories, and finally on Command prompt. and run the following command.

ipconfig /all | findstr "DNS\ Servers"

In case you are wondering, all that the command does is pulls all the network configuration values and then filters out the “DNS Servers” line from it.

Method 2

The second method is much simpler and has a user-friendly command.

That is, simply do a nslookup of any web address and Windows will show what DNS server you are using as part of the lookup.

To do a nslookup, simply use the below command. You can replace “google.com” with any web address you want.

In fact, you can even replace it with your own IP address.

nslookup google.com

3. What DNS Server Am I Using on Linux

To check what DNS Server you are using on Linux, simply open up the terminal and do nslookup for any website.

Just type in the following command.

You can replace “google.com” with your own IP address as well.

nslookup google.com

In case you are wondering, “nslookup” is a command line utility that resolves the DNS name to an IP address, thus revealing the DNS server used in the process.

4. What DNS Server Am I Using on Mac

Similarly, on macOS, open the terminal and type the following command.

To launch the terminal on macOS, press CMD + SPACE to launch Spotlight, and then type in “terminal”. and hit enter.

Alternatively, you can open your Applications folder, then open Utilities and double-click on Terminal.

Once the terminal windows open, copy-paste the following command and hit enter.

nslookup google.com

5. What DNS Server Am I Using on Android

There are a handful of Android network scanner apps on the market that let you see what DNS you are using. I would suggest Network Info II.

The app is free, light-weight with no ads.

Simply download it from the Google Play Store, open it and go to the WiFi tab.

There you’ll see DNS 1 and DNS 2 entries. These are the DNS servers you are using.

Alternatively, you can also try the PingTools Network Utilities.

It has some of the best and useful tools.

You also get additional utilities that can perform tasks like UPnP scanning, LAN wake-up, port scanning, etc.

To know the DNS address, install the app from Play Store and open it.

Now, tap on the “Router” or “Internet” icon and it will display all the network details.

Here, you can find what DNS you are using by looking at DNS 1 and DNS 2 entries.

6. What DNS Server Am I Using on iOS

Network Analyser is a free iOS app that shows useful information about your network.

There is a premium version of this app that costs $3 but for our simple need, the lite version (ad-supported) is sufficient.

Just install and open the app, you can see what DNS you are using next to “DNS Server IP.”

7. What DNS Server Am I Using on Router

By default, your router uses the DNS Server provided by your ISP, but if you suspect someone has changed it on your router, here is how to find it. Simply open up the web browser, and type in router’s IP address (usually 192.168.1.1 or192.168.0.1) and log in with username and password.

Most of the routers have credentials return behind it.

Once you see the router’s web interface, depending on the router model look for DNS 1 and DNS 2 entries.

Usually, it’s under the Network Setup or Status option.

Best DNS Providers

This is a bonus for this article.

Default DNS providers are 100% slower than third-party DNS providers like Google or Cloudflare.

Note that by changing the DNS settings, it won’t speed up your internet connection but the DNS queries will be faster depending on the DNS provider.

Here are the best DNS providers you can use on whatever device you are using.

Google Public DNS

The first on our list is Google DNS Server.

It’s the world’s most leading and largest DNS Server available online.

Trusted by billions of people across the globe, “Google DNS Server” has become the most popular option, as “best DNS for gaming”.

The biggest feature of Google DNS Server is that it boosts up the browsing experience with enhanced security and gaming experience with lag-free and smooth gaming.

For IPv4:

  • Primary DNS Server: 8.8.8.8
  • Secondary DNS Server: 8.8.4.4

For IPv6:

  • Primary DNS Server: 2001:4860:4860::8888
  • Secondary DNS Server: 2001:4860:4860::8844

The only problem of the Google Public DNS is that is provided by Google, this can be a serious problem if you care about privacy, even if Google said that they don’t keep any logs.

Here are some useful lunks about Google Public DNS:

Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 DNS

Cloudflare DNS is the fatest DNS of world right now.

Becoming always more popular, Cloudflare DNS protect your privacy, doesn’t keep your queries logs and activity, and the completely free.

It also support DNS-OVER-HTTPS and DNS-OVER-TLS.

For IPv4:

  • Primary DNS Server: 1.1.1.1
  • Secondary DNS Server: 1.0.0.1

For IPv6:

  • Primary DNS Server: 2606:4700:4700::1111
  • Secondary DNS Server: 2606:4700:4700::1001

Here are some useful links about Cloudflare DNS:

AdGuard DNS

AdGuard DNS has two sets of DNS servers, both of which block ads in games, videos, apps, and web pages.

The basic set of DNS servers are called the “Default” servers, and block not only ads but also malware and phishing websites.

For IPv4:

  • Primary DNS Server: 176.103.130.130
  • Secondary DNS Server: 176.103.130.131

For IPv6:

  • Primary DNS Server: 2a00:5a60::ad1:0ff
  • Secondary DNS Server: 2a00:5a60::ad2:0ff

Quad9

Quad9 has free public DNS servers that protect your computer and other devices from cyber threats by immediately and automatically blocking access to unsafe websites, without storing your personal data.

For IPv4:

  • Primary DNS Server: 9.9.9.9
  • Secondary DNS Server: 149.112.112.112

For IPv6:

  • Primary DNS Server: 2620:fe::fe
  • Secondary DNS Server: 2620:fe::9

OpenDNS

OpenDNS claims 100% reliability and up-time and is used by 90 million users around the world.

The offer two sets of free public DNS servers, one of which is just for parental controls with dozens of filtering options.

For IPv4:

  • Primary DNS Server: 208.67.222.222
  • Secondary DNS Server: 208.67.220.220

For IPv6:

  • Primary DNS Server: 2620:119:35::35
  • Secondary DNS Server: 2620:119:53::53

Verisign

Verisign’s public DNS services are centered around stability and security with 100% up-time, as well as privacy, citing that they “will not sell your public DNS data to third parties nor redirect your queries to serve you any ads.

For IPv4:

  • Primary DNS Server: 64.6.64.6
  • Secondary DNS Server: 64.6.65.6

For IPv6:

  • Primary DNS Server: 2620:74:1b::1:1
  • Secondary DNS Server: 2620:74:1c::2:2

How to Switch to Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 DNS on All Devices

DNS Resolvers Performance compared

According to Medium, CloudFlare was the fastest DNS for 72% of all the locations.

It had an amazing low average of 4.98 ms across the globe.

Google and Quad9 were close for second and third respectively.

Quad9 was faster than Google in North America and Europe, but underperformed in Asia / South America.

CloudFlare has a strong presence everywhere.

While Google and Quad9 had some high response times from some locations, CloudFlare performed well from everywhere.

The Bottom Line

So, these were some of the ways to find out what DNS server you are using.

Depending on the operating system you have, choose the most efficient way.

In case of any other queries or difficulties, let me know in the comments below.

Remember to share this article with your friends, and on your preferred social networks.

Thanks for reading.

Cheers!

Source: Techwiser, Medium, Techworm, LifeWire

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Jonathan Terreo

Jonathan is a Software/Web Developer that loves blogging in the free time. He loves to upload quality content to his websites. He is a WordPress/SEO expert due to his experience.

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