4 Private DNS Services to Use on iOS and macOS

3 minute read
| Deep Dive

In the past I’ve written about good VPN services to use, and now it’s time to talk about DNS. Short for Domain Name System, DNS is commonly referred to as the “phone book” of the internet. It helps connect web browsers with web servers by translating addresses like 104.26.0.124 into www.macobserver.com. Here are four private DNS services that I recommend. They are also all encrypted DNS.

There are several different ways to use a DNS server. One is to manually go into network settings on each and configure the Wi-Fi. The second way is to download an app, and the third way is to go into your router settings and configure it there. You can typically access your router settings by typing 192.168.1.1 in a web browser.

Configuration

You can manually change your DNS server on iOS by going to Settings > Wi-Fi. Tap on the blue “i” icon next to your Wi-Fi network, then scroll down and tap Configure DNS. On macOS you’ll find this by going to System Preferences > Network > Advanced > DNS.

Your ISP will automatically set you up with its own DNS servers. But many, if not all, ISPs collect your browsing history and sell it to advertisers. This is why we want to use private DNS services.

Using a DNS app is helpful on iPhones and iPads because if you connect to multiple Wi-Fi networks, you’ll have to configure all of them. Plus, you can’t configure DNS on a cellular connection. But DNS apps set up a fake VPN profile, which means you’ll have that DNS no matter which network you connect to.

To manually configure them, use the addresses for the primary and secondary servers. Type the primary server first and the secondary server second. Unless your network supports IPv6, you can stick with the IPv4 servers. Make sure that both the primary and secondary servers are both the same protocol.

Using private DNS servers on iOS and macOS

How to manually configure. Left: iOS. Right: macOS

Cloudflare

Cloudflare released its public DNS a couple of years ago. The company says its WARP technology makes it faster than other DNS services. Cloudflare also says it doesn’t keep logs or share your data with advertisers.

  • Primary Server: 1.1.1.1
  • Secondary Server: 1.0.0.1

Download on the App Store. There is no Mac app so you’ll have to manually configure.

AdGuard

AdGuard has a DNS service in addition to an adblocker. The DNS service can automatically filter out ads, malicious websites, tracking, and phishing. It also has separate servers for family protection that blocks adult content. It supports DNSCrypt, DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) and DNS-over-TLS (DoT) protocols.

Regular

  • Primary Server: 176.103.130.130
  • Secondary Server: 176.103.130.131

Family Protection

  • Primary Server: 176.103.130.132
  • Secondary Server: 176.103.130.134

Download on the App Store.

Download on the Mac App Store.

DNSWarden

Like AdGuard, DNSWarden offers servers for adblocking and adult content filtering, as well as uncensored servers that block nothing. It supports Dns-over-TLS , Dns-over-HTTPS and DNSCrypt with DNSSEC enabled and no logging.

Adblocking

  • Primary Server: 116.203.70.156

Uncensored

  • Primary Server: 116.203.35.255

Adult Filter

  • Primary Server: 88.198.161.8

NextDNS

This is the service that I currently use, and I really like it. It’s similar to Pi-hole except you don’t have to install anything. There are a wide variety of block lists to choose from, like blocking known NSA / GCHQ / CIA / FBI servers. AdGuard’s block list is also available here, as well as other popular lists like EasyList. You can add multiple lists at once.

I noticed that it seems to offer different DNS servers for each person, or maybe a handful that they rotate, but you can get servers without having to make an account.

Final Note

I mentioned that DNS apps on iOS and iPadOS set up a fake VPN profile. It’s fake because it doesn’t route your traffic through other servers, it’s just 127.0.0.1. But if you use an actual VPN app, make sure the protocol it uses is IKEv2 (if it gives you a choice). This way, you can use both the VPN app and the DNS app at the same time.

Download on the App Store.

Download on the Mac App Store.

Further Reading

[What Do Bank-Level Encryption and Military-Grade Encryption Mean?]

[iOS Adult Filter Blocks Searches for “Asian” and “Teen”]

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Dan Wieder
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Dan Wieder

Is the NextDNS app used instead of a VPN such as ExpressVPN or can you use both together?

DebShadovitz
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DebShadovitz

For years and years, OpenDNS was THE go-to for great, helpful, safe DNS. I noticed a few years ago that it became part of CISCO and I notice you didn’t mention it now. I wondered if it changed and went downhill and whether I should continue using it.. Are there reasons it’s not mentioned here.