The best public DNS services to use in South Africa

Speeding up your Internet browsing is sometimes possible without upgrading your connection or reducing bandwidth usage, thanks to the magic of the Domain Name System (DNS).

DNS services translate domain names into IP addresses and provide them to your browser to navigate you to certain websites.

This task is accomplished by DNS resolvers, which recursively look through the domain name supplied by each user and the IP addresses stored on connected servers.

These resolvers are located in different places and can operate and varying speeds, both of which have an effect on your browsing experience.

To determine which provides the best experience in South Africa, we compared public DNS servers available based on latency results.

Latency benchmarks

MyBroadband recently published a list of public DNS platforms with the best latency according to global rankings.

Cloudflare and OpenDNS topped this list, but the results were not a measure of performance in South Africa.

We decided to test the latency to the same list of public DNS servers from Centurion, Gauteng – and compare which was best for a local location.

The rankings could vary slightly depending on your specific location in South Africa, but they provide a better picture of the preferred public DNS resolvers South Africans should take advantage of.

We used the Gibson Research DNS Benchmark utility to measure the average latency, and posted the results below.

Public DNS IP address Latency (Cached) Latency (Uncached)
Cloudflare 1.1.1.1 20ms 183ms
Google 8.8.8.8 20ms 235ms
OpenDNS 208.67.222.222 20ms 376ms
Neustar 156.154.70.1 23ms 368ms
Verisign 64.6.64.6 202ms 282ms
SafeDNS 195.46.39.39 205ms 261ms
Quad9 9.9.9.9 207ms 251ms
Yandex 77.88.8.8 228ms 326ms
Comodo 8.26.56.26 235ms 611ms

As seen above, Cloudflare is tied with both Google and OpenDNS for the top position, making all three great choices for South Africans.

The cached latency is the most important metric, as common domain name lookups are quickly cached on public DNS resolvers – meaning that this is the response time you will often encounter.

Services which do not have locally-based DNS resolvers may therefore not be worth using.

Connecting to a DNS resolver

Connecting to a public DNS service is easy and can be set up on a per-device basis or on a router to ensure all connected devices use the chosen resolver.

DNS settings can typically be accessed through the Wi-Fi connection settings menu on your smartphone or through the Network and Sharing Center in Windows.

Once you have located the DNS settings, change the IP addresses to that of your selected public DNS service to begin using the new resolver.

For example, connecting to Google’s Public DNS would require you to change the IP settings as follows:

  • IPv4 Address 1 – 8.8.8.8
  • IPv4 Address 2 – 8.8.4.4
  • IPv6 Address 1 – 2001:4860:4860::8888
  • IPv6 Address 2 – 2001:4860:4860::8844

This is a very easy change to make and will slightly improve your browsing experience (depending on which public DNS resolver you choose) in addition to offering other benefits.

Some services, such as Cloudflare’s 1.1.1.1 DNS resolver, uses DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC) to ensure the validity of data provided by the DNS resolver and reduces vulnerabilities to attack.

Cloudflare also supports encrypted DNS queries, meaning Cloudflare and your ISP will have a harder time tracking what websites you visit.

Now read: Ethiopia’s Steam downloads for a week could fit on my laptop

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The best public DNS services to use in South Africa