Here we will discuss a robust step towards improving how our device handles DNS traffic (Domain Naming System, effectively like a phone book looking up someone’s phone number by their name; however in this case, we are translating a website name into an IP address). Using NextDNS as our private DNS host on our device offers us a number of advantages:
- Hides some of our information from the ISP (Internet Service Provider) for better privacy
- Safer online experience by blocking known malicious sites and connections
- Blocks many trackers
- Analyze internet traffic for each device, configure your own blocklists
- Offers ability to implement parental controls
- Speeds up your browsing experience
- Unlimited free configuration and unlimited devices (up to 300,000 searches per month which is more than adequate for most)
- Improves battery life potentially as compared to running a similar service on your device
First, before you begin this tutorial to set up your own NextDNS account, I recommend getting yourself an anonymous alias email address to use when signing up for NextDNS. Head over to our Email Strategies page and pick one of the three alias email services (SimpleLogin, 33Mail or Anon Addy), and use it to create an alias email address. This adds a layer of privacy/anonymity to your browsing history.
Once your account is created, you should land on the Setup page where you can click through the various tabs to customize your settings. Take note of the DNS-overTLS/QUIC string, you will need to input this on your device. (Highlighted below in red)
If using a GrapheneOS, or most Android phones, to switch to Private DNS and begin using NextDNS on your device:
Settings > Network & Internet > Private DNS
Then enter your DNS-over-TLS/QUIC string under Private DNS provider hostname and click SAVE. That’s it, you are all set. I like to save the URL of my NextDNS.io page to quickly view or modify any settings, logs, blocklists, etc. Save it to your home screen for quick access to your account.
If configuring NextDNS on a computer or home firewall, these steps will vary, and you might need to use the IP addresses listed on the Setup page under your nextdns.io account.
Again, this is all free up to 300,000 queries per month, if you require more you can opt for a paid account.
Remember, DNS and VPN do different things for us, by layering these two on our devices, we gain an enormous amount of privacy, as well as security. I typically run NextDNS on my GrapheneOS phone, and when not connected to my protected home network, I connect to a VPN, usually Proton or Mullvad. I’ve also tested out Blokada, and NetGuard, both excellent services that have free tiers that work well at filtering out trash. However, changing our DNS to NextDNS does the same heavy lifting on their servers, rather than our devices themselves handling this task through an app.
For a list of other DNS providers to choose from, check out these alternatives at PrivacyGuides.org:
Mt Hood from the main southern route, its shadow at daybreak spanning as far as the eye can see