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DNS Test Instructions

Think another DNS provider is going to be better?  Test it first, then decide...

For these tests to be reliable, make sure you aren't cheating:

Step 1) Some routers are very lousy when acting as a DNS forwarder, leading to unresolved queries which results in retries which gives the impression Internet is slow or un-responsive. Our suggestion for performance and simplicity is to never allow your firewall/router to act as a DNS forwarder. Disable this "feature" sometimes called DNS Relay / DNS Proxy / dnsmasq / DNS Masquerading / DNS Forwarding.

Step 2) Set your ISP's DNS servers statically on your computer, then restart the computer or flush the DNS cache

Step 3) Try not to use the Internet (especially streaming, downloading large files, etc.) while running a test as this can skew the results

Step 4) Run either of the tests below...  (do not run them both at the same time)

    GRC's DNS Benchmark    or   Google's namebench

...a lower ms (millisecond) number is the better (faster) server.



Note: If you see a private IP in the list of DNS servers tested and this is the same IP of your router (default gateway) then you should ignore this, as it is NOT the "best DNS server" and you did not mitigate the problem described in Step 1 above.

Note: While you might be inclined to use multiple DNS servers from different providers for the sake of redundancy (example being one Google DNS server and one of your ISP's DNS servers) this can cause other problems. Some websites/services rely on global DNS load balancing to direct you to servers which are nearest you. When you use drastically different DNS servers you can be misdirected to a geographically further datacenter, which then adversely affects streaming/load times. For this reason we suggest you use only two DNS servers, and both of them from the same provider, placing the faster server in the primary DNS server field. Obviously, if you use only one DNS provider and they have a major problem/outage that affects both their primary and secondary DNS server, albeit rare, this means you would not be able to surf the Internet. Switching to another provider would rectify the issue. Our opinion is this manual switch-over is still better than the problems introduced by using several different providers.



Now that you have your "best DNS servers" consider how best to set it...

A] If you're using a computer desktop that never moves away from your home network, then setting the "best DNS servers" statically under TCP/IP properties of the network adapter is OK to do.

B] If you're using a laptop/tablet/phone that travels to different networks, then you should leave the DNS setting of the network adapter as "obtain automatically" so you don't have connectivity problems on other networks. Set the "best DNS servers" in your own router (or in whatever acts as your DHCP server) under the DHCP settings/properties section. DHCP will "give" your devices these DNS servers whenever connected to your network.

C] If your device connects to a company network, then you must leave the DNS setting of the network adapter as "obtain automatically" so you don't have connectivity problems at work. Set the "best DNS servers" in your own router (or in whatever acts as your DHCP server) under the DHCP settings/properties section. DHCP will "give" your devices these DNS servers whenever connected to your network.

D] If you are the network administrator, then you might need to set the "best DNS servers" in either...
   - the local DHCP server
   - the DNS Redirector configuration file DNSServerIP= section
   - the internal DNS (possibly Active Directory) server "forwarders" section
See FAQ 142, the "best DNS servers" should always be last in the chain of DNS resolvers.



Note: There is no difference in which DNS server you specify in the primary or secondary fields, this is simply a way to indicate which to try first/try second if unavailable. If the DNS provider does not truly load-balance their DNS servers you may get better results setting the secondary (less used) DNS server in the top position, and setting the primary (more used) DNS server in the lower position. Still, client computers (especially Windows) may randomly switch to an alternate DNS server at any time, even when the primary is available and ready.

Note: Some residential-grade routers may need to be power cycled before a change in DNS servers takes effect.

Note: Some client computers will need to be restarted before picking up the new DNS servers offered automatically via DHCP.

 
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