What's the best alternative to Cloudflare

DNS server fast and secure: Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 and others

The internet should be fast. Instead, surfing the web gets stuck and stuck far too often. There can be many reasons for this: the router, the firewall, the server. But if you see the error message “DNS server is not responding” or you always have to wait a bit before the page even starts to load, then the domain name server (DNS) is usually to blame. But you can solve this problem.

Before you change the default DNS server, you should rule out other causes: Call up a website that usually loads quickly. If there is also a problem, use a different browser. Or switch off the firewall for a moment. Or restart the router. If all else fails, change the DNS settings. But it can also make surfing the Internet faster - and safer.

What does a DNS server do?

A DNS server is an address book for the Internet. You know the name of a website (for example trendblog.euronics.de). The DNS server knows the associated IP address, which consists of a combination of numbers (193.104.95.75). Just enter both one after the other in your browser. Do you see a difference in how fast the page loads?

The DNS server forwards your request directly to the responsible server. This is useful because you don't have to memorize any series of numbers. In addition, if the server moves, which entails a new IP address, the website can still be reached under the old name.

So that you can start surfing straight away with a new computer, it first assigns the task of name resolution to the router. If you get this from your provider, you will often find a DNS server there that is quite slow. You can enter a different one there, but also directly in your device. This then ignores the router's DHCP specifications, so that you can also use the faster DNS server if you go online elsewhere with your laptop.

Cloudflare DNS servers: fast and secure

Since 2018, Cloudflare has been offering a new, interesting DNS server. This should be particularly fast and safe. It can be reached under 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1. These are still the usual IPv4 addresses. If you're already using the IPv6 protocol, the first of the two is 2606: 4700: 4700 :: 1111. You can get more information by entering 1.1.1.1 in your browser.

According to the company, the time between the search query and the response from the DNS server is 14.8 ms. That would be a very low latency, because with Google Public DNS it is 34.7 ms, with US providers an average of 68.23 ms. Medium author Nykolas Z has measured this and can confirm Cloudflare's top position. However, he comes up with even better times, here are the average values ​​for Europe:

  • CloudFlare: 2.96 ms
  • Quad9: 4.35 ms
  • CleanBrowsing: 5.74 ms
  • Google: 7.17 ms
  • OpenDNS: 8.99 ms
  • Norton: 10.35 ms
  • Comodo: 13.06 ms
  • Yandex: 35.74 ms

These values ​​are from the year 2018. Even if we would update this post every few months with the current times, they could already be out of date a day later. And that is the moment when you look for an alternative to your DNS server and find this article while doing network research.

Let me recommend fast DNS servers, but measure the latency yourself! Or at least develop a feeling for whether the websites build up faster after changing the DNS server.

No tracking

In addition, according to its own entries, Cloudflare does not log which websites you visit. No IP data is saved and all logs are deleted after 24 hours. There is no tracking. You may think that you are already on the safe side if you only visit websites that are encrypted via HTTPS. But the previous queries to the DNS server are usually not. Those who operate this can create user profiles that can even be marketed in the USA.

There is, however, one limitation. The effort involved in running a free DNS server should also have a benefit. The companies behind 1.1.1.1 want to deduce from the accesses how attacks on DNS servers can be better fended off. They say they want to help make the entire system more secure. Therefore, the requests to the DNS server are encrypted.

A lot has happened since 2018: There are several methods of encrypting queries from DNS servers: DNS over TLS (DoT), DNS over HTTPS (DoH) or DNSCrypt. They will be used differently by DNS servers, browsers and apps in 2021.

Change DNS server in router and computer

To change the DNS server in the router, the best thing to do is to look it up in the instructions. There are just too many to cover all here. With a Fritzbox you choose in the area Internet the subitem access data and there the tab DNS server. This option could be deactivated for routers from the provider. Therefore, I always advise you to buy the device in stores. Euronics offers you a wide range of routers.

To change the DNS server in Windows 10, right click on the Windows icon and choose Network connections. Then click on Change adapter options, look for the correct network adapter (LAN or WLAN) in the new window and right-click on it and select the item properties out. Then a window should open where you Internet Protocol, Version 4 (TCP / IPv4) clicks. Then you activate under Traits the point Use the following DNS server addresses and enter the addresses of two DNS servers.

Alternative DNS servers

Both can come from Cloudflare, but you can also split them between two providers. Google (8.8.8.8) is used frequently, but here, too, it can be expected that the data will be evaluated. A fairly new alternative with a similar approach to Cloudware is Quad9 (9.9.9.9). There domains with malicious content are blocked, as is the case with the tried and tested OpenDNS (208.67.222.222). In Germany, the Chaos Computer Club (213.73.91.35) and the data protection association foebud.org (85.214.73.63) operate their own DNS servers.

Using an alternative DNS server with your smartphone is more difficult. Firstly, this is due to the cellular networks, which are structured differently than the public Internet. But even if you want to connect your mobile devices at home via WiFi, it will be difficult. Android has continued to limit the option over time. Some apps can help. The device might even have to be rooted.

That would be too much of an expense for me. But with my laptop I make sure that choosing a suitable DNS server not only makes the page load faster, but also that I cannot create a user profile.

Mobile apps

The DNS provider Cloudflare released apps for Android and iOS in November 2018 to make it easier to use on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The app establishes a VPN tunnel to the DNS server and does not make any changes to the system settings. The device adheres to this again when the VPN connection is closed.

No other VPN connection can be used while the VPN tunnel to Cloudflare is active. However, the Cloudflare tunnel cannot be used for other purposes either. Only DNS queries are routed through this. You have the choice between encryption via HTTPS and via TLS.

Neither your mobile operator nor all other nodes on the Internet through which your data is routed will then know which websites you are visiting.

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