How to Use Cloudflare DNS on Mac OS for Speed & Privacy
CloudFlare now has a consumer DNS service that is very fast and also centered around privacy. CloudFlare DNS says they won’t log IP addresses or sell your data, which in the modern era is perhaps more important than ever for users who value the vague concept of internet privacy.
This article will show you how to setup and use CloudFlare DNS on a Mac.
For some quick background, DNS is what links an IP address to an easy to read domain name, and it’s sort of like an internet directory service. The faster the DNS requests are, the faster your general internet performance will be because there is less time spent performing lookups to associate an IP address to a domain name. No, it won’t increase the actual transfer speeds, but using faster DNS may increase the response time of accessing various internet services and websites. But as mentioned above, it’s not just speed that makes Cloudflare DNS enticing, it’s the privacy-centric nature of the service, if you’re interested in learning more you can read more here from Cloudflare.
How to Setup Cloudflare DNS on Mac OS
If you’re already familiar with changing DNS servers on Mac OS then this process should be familiar to you, the main difference then is the addition of the Cloudflare DNS IP of 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52. Here are the full steps:
- Go to the Apple menu and then select “System Preferences”
- Choose the “Network” control panel
- Select “Wi-Fi” from the sidebar and then click on the “Advanced” button
- Choose the “DNS” tab
- Now click the “+” plus button to add a new DNS server, and enter: 184.108.40.206
- Click the “+” plus button again and add another new DNS server: 220.127.116.11
- If other DNS entries exist, click and drag the “18.104.22.168” and “22.214.171.124” entries above them in the list, or for maximum privacy and to rely entirely on Cloudflare DNS, delete the other DNS entries (it is recommended to make a note of any pre-configured DNS IP addresses just in case)
- Click the “OK” button and then click “Apply”
When you apply the network setting changes your internet connection will likely temporarily disconnect and reconnect again.
You should not need to quit and relaunch any networking apps for the change to take effect, but to be thorough you may want to anyway. Or you can reboot your computer.
Likewise it shouldn’t be necessary to flush DNS caches but you’re welcome to clear DNS cache anyway, you can learn how to reset DNS cache in MacOS High Sierra, Sierra, El Capitan, and other Mac OS X versions if need be.
If you have multiple Macs and decide you want to use CloudFlare DNS on all of them, you’ll want to repeat the same DNS configuring setup process on each of them, and you could also change DNS servers on iPhone or iPad if you want to set those to use the service as well.
How do I know if Cloudflare DNS is faster for me?
This is a great question, since every user and every ISP will likely have different performance for different DNS providers. Fortunately there are multiple ways to check DNS performance:
- Check DNSPerf.com DNS Resolving performance (general)
- Use a DNS comparison test, like DNSPerfTest (discussed below) or NameBench
If you want to run a DNS comparison speed test yourself from your own Mac, and you’re savvy with the command line, you can save this bash script as dnstest.sh (via cleanbrowsing) to your local directory, and then run the following command:
bash ./dnstest.sh |sort -k 22 -n
In each of my own personal tests, Cloudflare DNS was the fastest, but individual results may vary per location, ISP, and other variables.
If this interests you then try it out yourself and see if it’s faster for you, but even if it’s not, some people may opt to use CloudFlare DNS for the purported privacy benefit. That’s a personal decision, so whether you want to use CloudFlare DNS, your ISP provided DNS, or any other DNS, that’s your call!