The domain name system (DNS) is one of the core systems that make the Internet work even though most users probably never come into contact with it at all.
It is used to look up IP addresses of domain names among other things. So, if you type in ghacks.net, a DNS server would look up the IP address of the service, 126.96.36.199, to establish connections to the server.
The DNS server that the Internet Provider makes available is used by most Internet users. That is fine most of the time. Sometimes though, it is not and there are several reasons why this is the case:
- It may be slow.
- It may hijack requests to look up non-existing domain names and load error pages filled with ads.
- It may be used to censor certain sites.
To address these points: you do not really know if it is slow or not if you do not have any comparison. As for point two, it is easy enough to figure out if your provider hijacks requests or not, and also if sites are censored that you visit.
Since it is relatively easy to change the DNS provider, it is one of the few things that you can do to speed up your Internet browsing, and to resolve the other two issues that you may experience that are caused by the active DNS server.
While you can make those modifications manually, and I suggest you do if you know exactly which DNS server you want to use instead, you may want to test several servers first if you have not picked one yet.
There are lots of tools out there for Windows that help you with that. You can use DNS Benchmark to test the speed and latency of many DNS servers, or use programs such as DNS Jumper or QuickSetDNS to switch to different DNS servers.
ChrisPC DNS Switch is yet another program that can do that. What sets it apart, at least a bit, is the massive database that it ships with.
It lists 34 different DNS providers currently, and offers options to add even more providers to the list.
It displays your current settings when you start the program. This includes the main network adapter, the preferred DNS Server and the Alternative DNS server that are set currently.
Here you can also select one of the available providers directly. The new server IPs are displayed on the screen as well on that screen.
The list of supported servers reads like the who is who of the DNS world. You find OpenDNS and Google Public DNS here, Norton DNS, Comodo DNS or Yandex's DNS service. Besides those, there are also lesser known ones, such as Public-Root, Smart Viper or GreenTeam UK.
Side note: It is highly recommended to research who is operating those DNS servers before you make the switch. Since every connection attempt you make is sent to the DNS server, it is theoretically possible to log all your Internet activities.
ChrisPC Dns Switch offers a restore DNS button that you can use to go back to the default DNS provider. The program clears the DNS cache during the operation to remove information set by the previous DNS server.
If you switch to DNS database in the program, you can add, edit, or remove DNS providers. That's useful if you want to add a custom provider that is not listed by the program, or remove those that you do not want to use. This can be useful to reduce the list of providers that is displayed when you click on the program's system tray icon.
The program ships with an impressive amount of DNS servers, and makes switching between them a breeze. It lacks advanced features such as a benchmark option, and does not link to the homepages of those providers so that you do need to research potential candidates on your own.
DNS Switch may be useful to users who do not want to dig deep into the network adapter settings or their router's configuration menu to change DNS providers.