Bypassing Internet Problems With Using Google DNS

If you are having trouble accessing websites, or web access is slow, you may want to try switching to Google's DNS servers. DNS is the system used to translate domain names to numerical server addresses in order to access Internet content. If your ISP's DNS servers are not working or are slow, then switching to use Google's DNS servers can fix the problem, temporarily or permanently.

Video Transcript
So if you find that you're having trouble accessing websites there's one trick that experts know to try right away. It's changing your DNS to use the free Goggle DNS.

What is DNS? It stands for domain name system. Basically, when you go to a website you might go to a site like Apple.com but that's not a real address. That's like saying Gary's house. It's not an address that mail can get delivered to. It has to be, you know, a street number, and a street and zip code and all of that. The internet has kind of the same thing. As a matter of fact you can go to Network Utility which comes with your Mac, and you can look up and type in Apple.com and do a lookup and it will tell you that, for instance, the address for Apple.com is this right now. Of course a big site like Apple.com is going to have multiple addresses kind of like an office has multiple places. But for smaller websites there will be a specific web address.

So DNS works by translating a name like Apple.com to a number like this and that's how you load the website with this real address that you never really see as a user. The problem is that sometimes DNS doesn't work. DNS is usually provided by your internet service provider. So your cable modem or DSL provider, your mobile provider, there's thousands and thousands of different ways you can get DNS and quality can vary. Sometimes there can be problems with their DNS server. It's actually a whole server or process on a server that's serving up these numbers. Or their library, their database can be messed up. Maybe even just temporarily and you can have trouble.

So, you have the power to say don't use the default DNS. Actually use another one. Let me show you how. You go to System Preferences. Under System Preferences you can go to Network and then you click on whatever it is that you're using for network. I'm using Ethernet right here. I'll then click on Advanced and you see DNS. Under DNS you're going to see this number and it kind of is a grayer, you know, black than the standard black there. That's kind of saying I'm just going to use the default. Whatever the router is using. So the router itself says it's going to look up DNS numbers at a specific place. Probably your ISP. It's going to just basically, this number is saying I'll ask the router where to look these addresses up.

But you can hit the Plus button and say don't follow the advice of my router which may come from your ISP. But I want to do a specific address. I'm going to put in these numbers here, 8.8.8.8, and then I'm going to add another one that's 8.8.4.4. Pretty easy to remember numbers. I'm going to hit Okay and then I'm going to hit Apply. Now where do these numbers come from.

Well, Goggle offers these numbers as free DNS. So they're just putting these out there. They're their own DNS server and it's independent of all these ISP's. This is great because it allows you to get around any problems that your ISP may have. In the future it may help you get around things where they maybe don't want you to go to certain websites. Not so much of a problem now but it could be in the future.

So now every time I actually go to a website like Apple.com instead of asking my internet service provider where is Apple.com and getting the number from them it's actually going to ask Goggle at that 8.8.8.8 address to give me the address for Apple.com.

So this can get around a lot of things and it's also a speed difference. It could be that your ISP's DNS serve is working just fine but maybe it's slow or overwhelmed or having trouble at the moment and that's causing pages to load slowly. So you can switch to Goggle's free one to basically speed things up.

It's a troubleshooting technique and not something you should do if everything is working fine. But if you find you're having trouble loading websites or websites loading very slowly maybe something that you just want to try out. You can easily get rid of these, go back to how it was by returning to the DNS settings, selecting each one and hitting the minus button. Then you can see it reverts back to just asking your router for the DNS address.

Note the reason I put two in there is because basically it'll try the first one, that one with the four eights, and if for some reason it can't reach that one it'll try the second one. So it's kind of like a backup. So if something was wrong with Goggle's first DNS server you would still be able to load web pages just fine until they got that first one back up.

So useful troubleshooting technique. Something to know about. I like to switch it on. I find on my laptop it's very useful when I'm traveling because sometimes, while at home I have DNS going fine and I'm loading web pages fine, when I'm staying at a hotel or trying to logon in a meeting room sometimes it's not so great and I can speed things up by using Goggle's DNS rather than whatever is being provided there at my connection on that end.

Comments: 20 Responses to “Bypassing Internet Problems With Using Google DNS”

    Gregory
    7/27/17 @ 10:09 am

    Is there any reason not to put, 8.8.8.8 in first, then 4.4.4.4 second and 10.0.1.1 third and leave it that way?

    7/27/17 @ 10:12 am

    Gregory: If your ISP’s DNS seems fast and isn’t causing any issues, then it is probably makes little or difference. You could argue that if your ISP is smart then as a user of your ISP you have very fast access to your ISP’s DNS server. Should be true, but often isn’t. But you can try 8.8.8.4 and 8.8.4.4 (not 4.4.4.4) and see if you notice a difference. If you do, then you can leave it that way.

    Danny C Davis
    7/27/17 @ 10:37 am

    Gary how does using Google DNS affect privacy? Does Google track/record my requests. It seems this would negate my use of a VPN.

    7/27/17 @ 10:56 am

    Danny: If you go to https://developers.google.com/speed/public-dns/faq you’ll see that there is a section where Google answers privacy questions about their DNS service. You’d need to compare that to the privacy policies of your ISP, if they even bother to provide those for their DNS service (no idea where I would find the DNS privacy policy for my ISP).
    As for negating the use of your VPN, the only information a DNS service could get is which domain names you have requested IP addresses for. They wouldn’t see your data or which pages you are viewing. And the only information the DNS server would have about you is your IP address, which would not usually identify you with any certainty.
    Still, if absolute privacy is something that is required of your job or otherwise, then your company may want to give you a private DNS or something to avoid the whole issue.

    Geo Ludington
    7/27/17 @ 12:04 pm

    Why is your search domain blank?……does the change to google affect search domain? mine says eau.wi.charter.cm

    7/27/17 @ 12:09 pm

    Geo: I’m not using any search domains. Never really have used that feature. It sounds like your ISP has inserted their own domain in there, which probably doesn’t cause any harm, but probably isn’t useful either. Click the ? button at the bottom of that window to learn about what this feature does.

    Toni K. Beldock
    7/27/17 @ 12:27 pm

    Wow. Just changed to Google’s DNS. IMMEDIATE DIFFERENCE. Thanks, Gary!

    Chris
    7/27/17 @ 12:32 pm

    Any value in preferring Google’s DNS over another service like OpenDNS?

    7/27/17 @ 12:34 pm

    Chris: OpenDNS is another good option. Haven’t tried it for a while. If it is free and doesn’t require a sign-up and you trust them as much as Google, then I’d say they are equal options. Well, maybe Google has an advantage of lots of fast servers all over the world.

    marcia christ
    7/27/17 @ 5:02 pm

    Under system preferences there are several DNS listed:
    75.75.75.75
    75.75.76.76 (listed 3 times)
    2001:558:feed::1
    2001:558:feed::2
    Should I delete all of those and then add 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 ?

    7/27/17 @ 5:06 pm

    marcia: Only if you are having trouble. Remember, this is a way to fix problems. If you aren’t having problems, then you don’t need to try this. Those first two, by the way, are DNS servers for use by Comcast users.

    brad
    7/27/17 @ 7:39 pm

    I was surprised to find my DNS was already “8.8.8.8” “8.8.4.4” and “domain.google” was in the box to the right. Could this have happened without me making the changes? Did you mention this before? Thanks!

    7/27/17 @ 9:43 pm

    brad: Perhaps you set it that way a long time ago. Or maybe it was automatically set by your ISP, though they don’t usually do that, but it is possible.

    Derek McCalden
    7/28/17 @ 2:52 am

    Gary: When I go into the DNS section the DNS and +,- buttons are grey and I am unable to make changes. The DNS numbers are the same as my router. Why is it like this and can I change the DNS.

    7/28/17 @ 5:48 am

    Derek: Are you using Sierra? Are you on an admin-level user account?

    Derek McCalden
    7/28/17 @ 9:22 am

    Yes, on Sierra and am logged in as admin.

    7/28/17 @ 10:09 am

    Derek: not sure what the problem could be then. Would need a firsthand look.

    chris Phillips
    7/29/17 @ 12:12 am

    Does changing the DNS create any security issues, going to a more public arena ?

    7/29/17 @ 7:32 am

    chris: You need to use a DNS to use the Internet. I can’t see why Google’s DNS wou;d be any different from your ISP’s DNS from a privacy or security standpoint. If anything it may be more secure as if you take a MacBook out into the work and use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, it can then default to a DNS that has been compromised and lead to you to use a fake version of a real website. But if you are using Google DNS or any specific on you put in there, then it won’t use the Wi-Fi’s default DNS.

    Alston Ray
    8/11/17 @ 3:03 am

    Hi Gary, Do you recommend Namebench for Mac ? They can evaluate different servers.

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