How To Use Cloudflare's New DNS Service

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Cloudflare logoCloudflare has just introduced its new DNS service. Here's how to take advantage of it to increase your internet speed and privacy.

Appropriately enough, Cloudflare announced the new service on the first of April (The DNS is 1.1.1.1 - 4 ones. 4/1).

DNS (Domain Name System) is an internet service that translates domain names (like techsupportalert.com) to IP (Internet Protocol) addresses so that they are more easily found. All websites on the internet have IP addresses, but for most of us, remembering a string of numbers is harder than remembering a domain name. It's easier to remember techsupportalert.com than it would be to remember the IP address, which is 69.16.226.16.

Why would you want to change your DNS? There are several reasons, the main ones being speed, privacy, access to blocked sites, and security. Internet Service Providers (ISP's) usually route all user internet traffic through their own DNS, whether you're at home, at a coffee shop, or accessing the internet from another locale. It's also how they collect data about where you go and what you do on the internet. My ISP has a relatively slow DNS, so I usually use an alternate DNS service.

Some well known companies such as OpenDNS, Google and Comodo provide free DNS services, and now Cloudflare has entered the stage. Their stated aim is to increase your speed and privacy on the internet. You can read the announcement here, it has all the details.
Of course, DNS speed is relative to where you are, and where the closest DNS server is. If you have a fast DNS server far away, it might be slower than a DNS server that's closer to you. Two good tools for testing the speed of DNS servers are DNS Name Speed Benchmark by GRC and NameBench by Google. It's not hard to change DNS settings, but you might want to look at how to use both DNS speed testing programs to get the best results.
I switched my DNS settings to use Cloudflare's service, and things do seem a little zippier, but I haven't run benchmarks as yet.

You can change DNS settings on a given device or computer, or change the DNS on your router. Cloudflare has great directions for changing the DNS settings on Windows, Android, MacOS, Linux, and routers, just scroll down the page a bit to find them. Changing the DNS settings is the same process on most systems and devices, so if there's a particular DNS service you want to use these directions will come in handy.
If you're conversant with changing DNS settings already, here's the numbers to plug in using Cloudflare's new service:
IPv4: 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1
For IPv6: 2606:4700:4700::1111 and 2606:4700:4700::1001

(h/t TechCrunch)

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Comments

MUCH faster. Many thanks!

Great! You're more than welcome.

Tested Cloud Flare vs Open DNS2 at my location using (free) DNSJumper2.1. Had to manually enter IPs for CF. https://www.sordum.org/7952/dns-jumper-v2-1/. OpenDNS2 was the fastest of all listed DNS.
Open DNS2 Primary and CF Primary tested about the same (25-28ms) , but the Open DNS2 secondary IP tested faster 28ms to CF's 53 ms on average

P.S. Cloud Flare can be easily added to DNSJumper 2.1 by clicking Options | Update in the main interface.

Cloudflare was an intriguing alternative to OpenDNS (which I'd been using since 2005; they were purchased by Cisco in 2015) until reading "Cloudflare touts privacy-friendly 1.1.1.1 public DNS service. Hmm, let's take a closer look at that" in The Register: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/04/03/cloudflare_dns_privacy/ .

Instead, I've chosen to use Quad9: 9.9.9.9 & 149.112.112.112 (IPv4)

Here are some additional DNS resources (recently updated):

LIFEWIRE (Tim Fisher): Free and Public DNS Servers

https://www.lifewire.com/free-and-public-dns-servers-2626062

How-To Geek: How to Choose the Best (and Fastest) Alternative DNS Server

https://www.howtogeek.com/342330/how-to-choose-the-best-and-fastest-alternative-dns-server/

Thanks for your comment.

I did look into the  Cloudflare/APNIC Labs connection (see my comment below - their connection is part of their announcement of the service) before posting this, and was satisfied that it wasn't any more or less of an issue than most DNS servers provide. I could be wrong of course, but from what I could find, it's on the up and up. Few of the DNS servers provide total anonymity - you run into the same issue with VPN's (Virtual Private Network).

I'm also familiar with both the articles you cite, and read both of them before writing up this article. Good articles, both. :)

I'm glad to hear that you're having good luck with Quad9.

I think everyone's experience with DNS servers is going to vary due to location and other variables. For example, I've tried OpenDNS several times since they came online - and I've had abysmal speeds using them, consistently, over several years. Others get great results. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

Thank you for your reply, rhiannon (haven't check this email account for a few days...).

Over the years, OpenDNS provided an overall quite decent speed in just about all of the places I found myself at, being on the road a great deal here in the U.S. (I had been one of their beta testers before they went public); I began to look at other options recently, not being that enamored of their acquisition by Cisco. What led me to ultimately choose Quad9 was that they are the product of an industry consortium (that includes IBM), have good security, very appealing documentation and as far as speed is concerned, DNS Benchmark (recently updated to version 1.3.6668.0) consistently places them at, or just below, the top (needless to say, everyone's mileage will be different).

Cheers,

AJN

I'll try them out, thanks. :)

I was so happy to read these news, unfortunately 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1 are on the slow side of GRC's benchmark (ranks #33 & 34).
Maybe because I am connected in Europe?

Possibly. I don't know what kind of infrastructure Cloudflare has in Europe, but distance from the nearest DNS server is most often the cause of slower speeds.

Thanks!
:-(

You're welcome. :)

Thanks. Good article. Coincidentally, I have been using GRC's DNS Benchmark for the last couple of days at different times of day before I saw this article. Here's where Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 ranked in seven of my tests: 11, 11, 10, 5, 7, 13, 6. In the same tests Google's 8.8.8.8 ranked: 2, 12, 2, 2, 10, 3, 2. Both Cloudflare and Google lost queries in at least one of the seven tests. My default DNS replaces bad queries with advertising pages rather than with error messages. Neither Cloudflare nor Google do that according to DNS Benchmark.

I would think that the fluctuation in numbers wouldn't be unusual - I don't think I've ever gotten the same numbers from a benchmark test twice in a row. In my ISP in particular, my connection is significantly slower during typical US heavy internet usage.
ISP's do place ads instead of error messages.

From your numbers I would guess that the nearest Cloudflare DNS server is farthere from you than the nearest Google DNS server.

I've completed my little project testing DNS services. I ran 17 tests over three days using DNS Benchmark, ranked the services in each test by speed, and then averaged the ranks to see which services were the fastest. Here are the fastest five for me where I am in South Carolina. (Numbers in parentheses are the average ranks.)

64.94.1.1 Internap Network Services (4.7)
8.8.8.8 Google (4.9)
8.8.4.4 Google (5.6)
129.250.35.251 NTT America (6.2)
165.166.142.42 Spirit Communications (7.1)

Others:
Cloudflare (14.1 & 14.6)
Quad9 (14.9 & 16.8)
AT&T's servers in my router (17.8 & 20.6)
OpenDNS (22 and higher)

I've switched to the Google services. So far so good!

That's some extensive testing. :) I'm glad Google DNS is working well for you.

It's faster. I have used DNS Jumper to find the fastest DNS service, and when I plugged in 1111, there was a small but noticeable improvement

I noticed the same - small but noticeable increase in speed.

Since I'm addicted to finding any incremental increase in speed, this is most welcome. All the best to you!

The increase in speed after switching from Open DNS to Cloudflare [PC- Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit- SP1-8GB- Intel i350 -Wildblue] was so obvious that I haven't bothered to measure it.

That's wonderful. :)

i have been using this 1.1.1.1 for a couple days. plenty fast enough. ran GRC dns bench and it came out 2nd fastest for me. thanks for the info. i always appreciate any security stuff. clas

My pleasure. :)

Rhiannon,

General ISP question as it relates to this...

Comcast is my ISP, use their modem, an Xfinity branded Arris for internet, voice, cable, wi-fi.

Would any such move to another DNS provider be blocked by Comcast in some way?

Is it better to buy an approved Comcast modem in advance of such a move?

Thanks.

You don't have to change the DNS server in a router, you can easily change it (and as easily reverse it) on any device you have (desktop, laptop, mobile). On a PC it's done through the network settings. It only takes a few minutes and is easily reversed if you run into a problem. In Windows, reversing it is a matter of checking a box that says Obtain an IP address automatically and your system will use the default DNS servers for your ISP.

To the best of my knowledge, an ISP can see where you route your traffic.
I don't know if they can block you if you use a different DNS server. Someone else here might have that answer.

That said, it would be unusual for a large ISP in the US to block anyone that's using a different DNS, it's a pretty common practice. Most people use Google DNS or OpenDNS since they are well known and have been around quite a while.

I've been doing it for years, across a range of ISP's (small and large) and never had a problem.

As for buying a new modem, I don't see why that would be needed unless your current one isn't working. Changing DNS settings doesn't involve hardware changes, it just re-routes your internet traffic.
Personally I change the router settings because there are other users here, and I don't want to change the settings on every device. It's easier for me to do it on the router. It can be undone easily on the router, but, if you're not comfortable accessing and changing your router settings then I would change it on a device by device basis.

A good bite size, not very technical article on what DNS is and does can be found here: What is DNS - Domain Name System for Computer Networks

 

Good reply. Thanks.

:)

Thank you very much...Going to try this.

You're welcome. :)

Gibson shows 1.1.1.1 as Megapath Networks

That's interesting. If I can find time I'll run a few more DNS test programs and have a look.

Cloudflare does mention their acquisition of 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1 in their announcement:

"We reached out to the team at APNIC. APNIC is a Regional Internet Registery (RIR) responsible for handing out IPs in the Asia Pacific region. It is one of five RIRs that manage IP allocation globally, the other four being: ARIN (North America), RIPE (Europe/Middle East), AFRINIC (Africa), and LACNIC (South America).

APNIC's research group held the IP addresses 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1. While the addresses were valid, so many people had entered them into various random systems that they were continuously overwhelmed by a flood of garbage traffic. APNIC wanted to study this garbage traffic but any time they'd tried to announce the IPs, the flood would overwhelm any conventional network.

We talked to the APNIC team about how we wanted to create a privacy-first, extremely fast DNS system. They thought it was a laudable goal. We offered Cloudflare's network to receive and study the garbage traffic in exchange for being able to offer a DNS resolver on the memorable IPs. And, with that, 1.1.1.1 was born."