Adguard DNS is a free and simple adblocking solution without the use of any software. That’s right, you don’t need to install anything, only input some numbers into your device’s settings. This can be done on just about anything: Windows, macOS, Linux, mobile, or even the router in your house. Let’s see how it works.
Background Info on Adguard DNS
It’s important to note that Adguard is a company that provides different methods of free and paid ad blocking through both software, browser extensions, and its DNS service. I’m only referring to the DNS service for this post.
What is DNS?
When you enter an address such as google.com, your computer or device doesn’t know what that means. It has to look up what the true “address” of it is, which is a string of numbers to the server’s location such as 184.108.40.206.
Why do I need a different DNS?
Most people go through their internet service provider’s DNS by default. However, there is a good chance you could slightly improve the time it takes to access websites by switching to a faster set of DNS servers. Even if you’re not after performance, you can do a lot of cool things by switching such as ad blocking, blocking certain kinds of sites, etc.
Adguard DNS Review
Adguard’s DNS page does a great job of trying to explain what their service is and how to set it up on any device. I tend to go back and forth between setting it up for my router so that all devices get the added protection vs limiting it to one of my devices.
Because it is using DNS to block ads, it’s not as thorough as something like uBlock Origin/Nano Adblocker in the browser. However, if you are ever forced to disable an ad blocker on a site or encounter applications that have built-in ads on the desktop or mobile, this seems to really help block them.
There are actually two sets of servers you can use.
Most people will want the first “default” DNS.
Then you have the ”family protection” set. This basically is adblocking and malware protection in addition to blocking adult content. If you would prefer a device not to be able to access adult content, use the following DNS servers.
After you get the settings in place, you’ll need to give your device some time for the DNS settings to take effect. (Usually rebooting the router and devices will help, but for those in a hurry, erasing the DNS cache in Windows/macOS/Linux is the fastest)
The basic web test
Okay, so I did a quick test run using both Adguard DNS and a plain browser vs my default DNS and a plain browser. Here are some of the results.
Without Adguard DNS on Yahoo.com
As you can see, there are two major advertisements on the main Yahoo site. We have the banner at the top and the square ad on the right side of the page. This is what a regular person would see if they were surfing the web with no ad blockers in the browser or their DNS.
With Adguard DNS on Yahoo.com
With our DNS requests now running through Adguard’s service, we can see that no ads appear on Yahoo’s front page. All that is left are white blank spaces.
Without Adguard DNS on pcmag.com
Sweet mother of god, look at that ad on PC Magazine’s website. It’s taking up quite a bit of room and I’m surprised that a tech-related site would stick that there.
With Adguard DNS on pcmag.com
Say, now that looks a lot better. No major ad at the top of the page.
Comparing DNS services
I decided to compare how Adguard DNS compared with other providers such as Google DNS and Cloudflare. I used the utility DNS Benchmark and ran a short test.
These results will vary depending on what country and region, so don’t take my results as the final word.
We can see that Cloudflare is the fastest followed by Google DNS with one of Adguard’s beating the other Google DNS. It should be noted that Adguard runs its DNS queries through Google’s DNS anonymized before running it back through its adblocking service. The fact that Adguard DNS is not too far behind the Google one makes sense.
If you value performance and want the fastest DNS available, you’ll probably be better with Cloudflare or Google. If you want extra features such as adblocking and malware protection built-in, go with Adguard DNS.
What about mobile?
While adblocking can be easily done with web browsers on traditional computers, it might be a little trickier with mobile. On Android, users can usually change their DNS settings by going deep into their network settings. For iOS, this is not currently possible and users need to use the Adguard app to gain the ability to use different DNS. This also means that iOS users will need to pony up for the premium service. (One way around this would be to set the router in your house to Adguard DNS which would cover iPhones and iPads as well as anything else connecting to your network)
I haven’t done any recent tests, but I do remember many ads that normally showed up in some apps never appearing again after I made the switch to Adguard.
Final Thoughts on Adguard DNS
I know there are some people out there that are all about using Pi-hole on Raspberry Pi devices to block ads on their home networks, but let’s be real: most people are not going to do that.
Adguard has created what I think is an elegant solution for most people and that is putting in some numbers and magic makes advertisements go away. However, before setting and forgetting, it’s best to give it a test run for a few days and see if you encounter any problems. There may be a rare occurrence where an app or website doesn’t work correctly and you might end up becoming frustrated because you forgot you were using adblocking DNS.
Anyway, give Adguard DNS a shot and see how it works for you.