How to Change DNS Server Settings

Is It Better to Change DNS Servers on Your Router or Your Device?

Photo of DNS Settings on ASUS RT-AC66U Router
DNS Settings on ASUS RT-AC66U Router. © Yaplex, Inc.

When you change the DNS servers that your router, computer, or other Internet-connected device uses, you're changing the servers, usually assigned by your ISP, that the computer or device uses to convert hostnames to IP addresses.

In other words, you're changing the service provider that turns www.facebook.com to 173.252.110.27.

Changing DNS servers can be a good troubleshooting step while troubleshooting certain kinds of Internet connection problems, might help keep your web surfing more private (assuming you choose a service that doesn't log your data), and could even allow you to access sites that your ISP has chosen to block.

Luckily there are several public DNS servers that you can choose to use instead of the automatically-assigned ones you're probably using now. See my Free & Public DNS Server List for a list of primary and secondary DNS servers you can change to right now.

How to Change DNS Server Settings: Router vs Device

Enter the new DNS servers that you'd like to start using in the DNS settings area, usually located alongside the other network configuration options in the device or computer you're using.

However, before you change your DNS servers, you'll need to decide if it's a better choice, in your specific situation, to change the DNS servers on your router or those on your individual computers or devices:

  • Change the DNS servers on your router if you'd like all the computers and devices that connect to the Internet via that router to also use the new DNS servers. This only works if your computers and devices are setups for DHCP, meaning they look to the router for DNS server information, among other things. This is very common.
  • Change the DNS servers on your individual devices if you'd only like that one device to use these different DNS servers. This is a good idea when troubleshooting an Internet problem with one computer/device that you suspect might be DNS related or if you don't have a router at all. This is also the right course of action if you're in the uncommon situation of not using DHCP to obtain network information for your computer(s) or another Internet-connected device(s).​

    Below is some more specific help with these two situations:

    Changing DNS Servers on a Router

    To change the DNS servers on a router, look for text fields labeled as DNS, usually in a DNS Address section, most likely in a Setup or Basic Settings area in the router's web-based management interface, and enter the new addresses.

    See my How to Change DNS Servers on Most Popular Routers tutorial if that generic advice didn't get you to the right area. In that piece, I explain how to do this in detail for most of the routers out there today.

    If you're still having trouble even after looking through that tutorial, you can always download the manual for your specific router model from that company's support site.

    See my NETGEAR, Linksys, and D-Link support profiles for information on locating downloadable product manuals for your specific router. Searching online for your router's make and model is a good idea if your router isn't from one of those popular companies.

    Changing DNS Servers on Computers & Other Devices

    To change the DNS servers on a Windows computer, locate the DNS area in the Internet Protocol properties, accessible from within the Network settings, and enter the new DNS servers.

    Microsoft changed the wording and location of network related settings with each new Windows release but you can find all the necessary steps for Windows 10 down through Windows XP, in our guide on How to Change DNS Servers in Windows.

    Note: See Configure Your Mac's DNS Settings or Change Your DNS Settings on iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad if you're using one of those computers or devices and need some help.

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