Router DNS Settings

Written by Paul Callaghan in Misc on

If you want to change the DNS server for your entire home network, you’ll need to do it on your router. All the devices on your network (PCs, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, smart speakers, TV streaming boxes, Wi-Fi enabled light bulbs, and anything else you can think of) acquire their DNS server setting from the router unless you go out of your way to change it on the device. By default, your router uses your Internet service provider’s DNS servers. If you change the DNS server on your router, every other device on your network will use it.

Really, if you want to use a third-party DNS server on your devices, we recommend you just change it on your 192.168.2.1 router. It’s a single setting and, if you change your mind and want to change your DNS server later, you can change the setting in one place.

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical and decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. Most prominently, it translates more readily memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for locating and identifying computer services and devices with the underlying network protocols. By providing a worldwide, distributed directory service, the Domain Name System has been an essential component of the functionality of the Internet since 1985.

The Domain Name System delegates the responsibility of assigning domain names and mapping those names to Internet resources by designating authoritative name servers for each domain. Network administrators may delegate authority over sub-domains of their allocated name space to other name servers. This mechanism provides distributed and fault-tolerant service and was designed to avoid a single large central database. The Domain Name System also specifies the technical functionality of the database service that is at its core. It defines the DNS protocol, a detailed specification of the data structures and data communication exchanges used in the DNS, as part of the Internet Protocol Suite.

The Internet maintains two principal namespaces, the domain name hierarchy and the Internet Protocol (IP) address spaces. The Domain Name System maintains the domain name hierarchy and provides translation services between it and the address spaces. Internet name servers and a communication protocol implement the Domain Name System. A DNS name server is a server that stores the DNS records for a domain; a DNS name server responds with answers to queries against its database.

The most common types of records stored in the DNS database are for Start of Authority (SOA), IP addresses (A and AAAA), SMTP mail exchangers (MX), name servers (NS), pointers for reverse DNS lookups (PTR), and domain name aliases (CNAME). Although not intended to be a general purpose database, DNS has been expanded over time to store records for other types of data for either automatic lookups, such as DNSSEC records, or for human queries such as responsible person (RP) records. As a general purpose database, the DNS has also been used in combating unsolicited email (spam) by storing a real-time blackhole list (RBL). The DNS database is traditionally stored in a structured text file, the zone file, but other database systems are common.

As far as switching your router to a fast, secure DNS server, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that if you make the change in your router settings, it affects every connected device. Not just computers and smartphones, mind you, but video doorbells, smart garage doors, even internet-aware toasters. The bad news is that the precise technique for changing your Edimax Router Login is different for every router.

While working through the steps for this article, I got an unpleasant surprise. It turns out that my ISP-supplied router, which brings me internet, TV, and phone service, does not permit me to change the DNS settings. Apparently, a true network wiz could make the change by using Telnet to log into the router, which nominally doesn't support Telnet. I guess the ISP wants to lock in the revenue from those ad and search pages.

As for your mobile devices, Android versions before 9 (Pie) and all versions of iOS just don't support a global change to your DNS preferences. You have to reach in and make the change any time you connect to a new Wi-Fi network, and you can't touch the DNS settings for the cellular network. It's true that on both platforms, you can buy an app to automate that change, if you wish. But if you're going to buy an app, I'd suggest you simply run a VPN on those devices. Doing so shunts your DNS requests through the VPN company's servers, which in most cases are more secure than what you'd get from your ISP.