If your Android device struggles with a spotty internet connection while browsing, failed connections with websites, or security warnings, switching to a different DNS (Domain Name System) server could be the solution you need.

Think of the DNS server as a translator, matching IP addresses to the domain names (like androidpolice.com) that you’re looking for on a search engine. It also keeps frequently visited websites in its own cache to save time. Usually, this work is handled automatically in the background with servers picked by your IPS (internet service provider). But if something goes wrong with these servers or they’re in a problematic location, your browsing experience can quickly go downhill.

Why does the DNS server matter?

The solution is switching to a DNS server of your choice to improve performance or to access extra paid features only available on certain DNS servers. Our walkthrough shows you how to do it from your Android device.

Before you begin: User interfaces and specific options may vary a little between devices, depending on the brand behind your phone or the version of Android OS your device uses. These differences should be mild as long as you use a version of Android after Android 9 (which had some problems juggling DNS servers and VPN settings simultaneously).

Flush your DNS cache

DNS servers manage a cache of popular websites. If that cache gets full or runs into problems, it can slow down your browsing experience. Start with flushing your cache before you move on to switching DNS servers. It may solve the problem early.

Begin by opening the Chrome browser on your Android and navigating to this web address (which you can copy and paste):

chrome://net-internals/#dns

This launches a basic settings menu, which automatically navigates to the DNS section. Here, select the button that says Clear host cache. Reboot your Android when it’s finished, and try browsing again.

How to switch DNS servers on Android

If clearing the cache didn’t work, look for another available DNS server. Here’s what to do:

  1. Find your DNS provider hostname. Collect this information before beginning, as it tells your Android which DNS server to use. If you use a specific DNS service, you probably have a URL or IP address that was provided that you can use when switching. If you want to switch to any DNS to see if it makes a difference, dns.google lets you access the Google Public DNS.
  2. Log in to your Android device. Go to the Settings app from your account icon or list of apps.
  3. Select Network & Internet.
  4. Choose Advanced settings.
  5. Select Private DNS.
  6. This opens a window with DNS options. Typically, your Android device is set to Automatic, which means using the preferred DNS server selected by your provider and optimized by the “DNS over TLS” protocol, the traditional protocol used to pick an optimized DNS connection. Switch that to Private DNS provider hostname.
  7. Enter the DNS provider hostname you want to use. Check that it is accurate.
  8. Select Save to complete the process.
  9. Switch to your browser, and reload the same web page a few times in rapid succession. If the web page URL loads responsively every time, you successfully switched your DNS server.

Troubleshooting

Did these steps not work, or do you have a version of Android older than Android 9? Head to your Wi-Fi instead.

  1. Give your current Wi-Fi network a long press, and choose Modify network.
  2. Choose Advanced options > DHCP > Static. In the DNS 1 field, fill out the IP address of the server you want to use. For example, the Google Public DNS is 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4. on IPv4, and 2001:4860:4860::8888 or 2001:4860:4860::8844 on IPv6.

This alternative may succeed if you don’t see the options for the instructions above, but you need the correct IP address information.

Keep this DNS trick handy

Switching your DNS can address several issues, especially while traveling, so it’s a good trick to keep (literally) in your pocket. And you can make the same switch on any platform you use, such as ChromeOS on a Chromebook, although your settings will look slightly different.

Conclusion on How to make Android use the DNS server of your choice

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