Can the ISP’s DNS Resolve Faster Than the Public DNS?

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Abstract depiction of DNS requests with random lights.

Photo by Nina Ž

Though the DNS resolver that lives and breathes inside your ISPs infrastructure is theoretically at the quickest hop from your home, most of the time, it is the slowest and not recommended.

Factors that affect the speed of an ISP’s DNS server

For example, in India, ISPs like BSNL and AirTel hijack NXDOMAIN responses and non-secure requests to inject their own advertisements, if you happen to use their DNS resolvers.

Most of the internet service providers would offer DNS services that aren’t optimised enough to serve everyone. In my experience in India, almost all provider based DNS servers are trash. Their uptime is pathetic and has always been unreliable.

Non-technical factors to consider when using the provider’s resolver

  • Censorship – ISPs could block access to URLs locally.
  • Tracking and data mining – ISPs and non-private DNS mines and tracks your browsing pattern and monetize the data with advertising agencies. Though they could be anonymized, you’ll never know if they are.
  • Logging – Several ISPs are required to log your DNS queries by law, and they store your queries for more than six months or longer.

Could public DNS be faster?

If you are ISP does all the above-mentioned things, yes, your public DNS will be faster, not to mention a better choice. At the time of updating this article (2019), Cloudflare offers a privacy-focused DNS service — 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1, which also supports DNS over HTTPS.

Does changing DNS servers improve gaming pings?

No, it doesn’t. The DNS request is just the very first request that resolves the name of the server to its origin IP address. Once the request happens, this data is cached by your operating system for consequent requests. So this does not affect the gaming ping in any way.

Besides, most games have such URLs configured as IP addresses directly to avoid DNS resolution. Latencies in games can only be resolved by switching to a region that’s geographically close to you.

How to find the fastest DNS server?

Benchmark it yourself. Like I said earlier, there are a lot of factors that affect the speed and quality of a DNS resolver. If speed is your ultimate goal, you can use a DNS benchmarking tool like namebench and find out the fastest DNS for your network.

This post was first published on July 8, 2012.

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Karthikeyan KC

Aeronautical engineer, dev, science fiction author, gamer, and an explorer. I am the creator of Geekswipe. I love writing about physics and astronomy. I created Swyde. Now creating Mindspace.

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