Use DNSBench to speed up web surfing

A speedometer representing the increase in web surfing speed from changing your DNS

DNSBench is a freeware DNS Benchmark tool that can help you understand and choose the most efficient and fastest DNS servers for your area. When clicking a link or entering a web address, if you find it taking longer than you think it should, it could be your ISP’s slow DNS servers. Let’s see how using DNSBench can help you speed up web surfing. 

Background Info on DNSBench 

DNSBench developer Steve Gibson of Security Now fame

DNSBench (officially known as DNS Benchmark) was developed as freeware by Steve Gibson of Gibson Research Corporation (GRC). Gibson is known for his SpinRite hard drive recovery software as well as being the co-host of the weekly tech security podcast “Security Now.”  

What is DNS, and why do I care? 

Domain Name Servers (DNS) are essential to browse websites on the internet. When you go to Microsoft.com, that domain is for humans to see. The computer instead sees an IP address to Microsoft’s web server.  

For a computer to know what a website’s IP address is, it needs to first check the DNS or the “phone book” of the internet. Most people use the default, which goes through their internet service provider. 

However, did you know that you can change your DNS and speed up the time it takes to access websites and services? As I mentioned in my Adguard DNS article, you can even use DNS to block or stop access to adult websites. 

Why do you need DNSBench? 

If you’re using your ISP’s DNS servers, they might be slow or, at worst, display advertisements on error pages when a site couldn’t be found. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to measure which set of DNS servers were the fastest and most efficient for you? That’s where DNSBench comes in. 

How to use it 

Upon the first launch, you’ll see the introduction tab, explaining what I just said about DNS and why you don’t want a slow set of them. 

From there, click the “Name Servers” tab, and the program will sort out the list of DNS servers. 

main interface of DNSBench

Before you begin the test, be sure to click the Add/Remove button.  

Here you can add any additional DNS servers (such as Adguard’s, NextDNS, etc.) and clear out dead servers. Note in my situation DNSBench had 41 dead servers I could remove from the list before starting the speed test. 

add/remove DNS servers window

When you’re ready to go, close the add/remove window and start the check by clicking the Run Benchmark button. The DNS check will take a few minutes, depending on your network and environment, but you can see the results and graphs in real-time as they get updated.  

DNSBench results

Analyzing the results 

After the test is finished, you will see what the DNS Benchmark tool has deemed the most efficient (default settings) near the top of the chart. If you aren’t fussy about things and want something fast and will not give you trouble, my advice is to take the first two sets of DNS numbers.  

results explanation
A very useful guide how to read DNSBench results

In my example, one of Google’s DNS servers ranked 1st while one of Cloudflare’s came in 2nd. Therefore, I’m just going to take one server from Google and the other from Cloudflare and that will become my DNS server set I will put into my network settings. (In my case, I use Cloudflare for both the first and second DNS due to their privacy policy compared to Google’s public DNS)

My DNS Benchmark results
My results, but yours will be very different!

What do I do with my results? 

Once you know the best set of DNS servers for you, you’ll either want to add these into your operating system manually or change your router settings to use them. If you manually change the DNS on your computer, you will need to do this for all the devices in your house. 

If you can change the settings in your router, all devices on your network will automatically start using the most efficient DNS servers that you put in. 

Final Thoughts on DNSBench 

People might be surprised by how having the closest and fastest DNS can affect their web surfing and other activity online. For anyone that is slightly tech-savvy, I recommend running this DNS Benchmark tool to measure your current DNS speed and condition compared to the others out there. 

Do not just copy DNS servers from a website and use those without testing them first! Everyone’s results will be different depending on their internet and location. 

DNSBench is freeware for Windows, BUT it can be used on macOS (use WineBottler) and Linux if you run it through WINE.

Link: Download it!