A rainbow of Ethernet cables
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If you’d like to use alternative DNS servers with your Windows 11 machine—perhaps to speed up browsing with a free DNS service, enhance privacy, or simply use something better than what you ISP provides—it’s fairly easy to do in Settings. Here’s how.

First, open Settings by pressing Windows+i on your keyboard. You can also right-click the Start button and select “Settings” in the menu that appears.

In Windows 11, right-click the Start button and select "Settings."

In Settings, select “Network & Internet” in the sidebar.

In Windows 11 Settings, click "Network & Internet."

In Network & Internet settings, locate the name of the internet connection you want to change the DNS servers for in the list (such as “Wi-Fi” or “Ethernet”) and click it.

In Network & Internet settings, click the name of your primary network connection in the list.

On the properties page for that network connection, choose “Hardware Properties.”

Select "Hardware Properties."

Next, find “DNS Server Assignment” and click the “Edit” button beside it.

Click "Edit."

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An “Edit DNS Settings” window will pop up. Using the drop-down menu, select “Manual.” Then switch on IPv4 or IPv6 depending on which type of IP connection you want to modify. Most connections still use IPv4 by default, but some ISPs require IPv6 as well.

Below the IPv4 or IPv6 headings, enter the primary DNS server address in the “Preferred DNS” box (such as “8.8.8.8” and “8.8.4.4” for Google’s free DNS service). Below that, enter the secondary DNS server address in the “Alternate DNS” box.

Enter your DNS server addresses.

If you’d like to use DNS over HTTPS, which encrypts your DNS requests for improved privacy and security, set both “Preferred DNS Encryption” and “Alternate DNS Encryption” to “Encrypted Only (DNS over HTTPS)” using the drop-down boxes below the DNS addresses you entered in the last step. Repeat this for either IPv4 or IPv6 if necessary.

Note: As of November 2021, DNS over HTTPS only works with a limited number of DNS services in Windows 11. Make sure the DNS servers you’re using support it before turning on DNS encryption.

Set the DNS servers to "Encrypted Only."

If you don’t know if your new DNS servers support encryption, it’s OK to leave DNS encryption set to “Unencrypted Only.” When you’re done, click “Save,” and the pop-up window will close.

On the Wi-Fi or Ethernet hardware properties page, you’ll see the DNS servers you just entered listed with their encryption status beside them.

You'll see "(Encrypted)" beside the DNS server names.

Close the Settings app, and you’re good to go. From now on, all of the internet traffic that goes through the network adapter you modified will use the new DNS servers. If necessary, you can repeat these steps with an alternate network adapter (such as Ethernet if you’ve already set up DNS address for Wi-Fi).

Note: If you have network problems after changing DNS settings, double-check that you entered the addresses correctly. A mistyped DNS address would result in the DNS servers being unreachable and the appearance of a broken internet connection. If the addresses have been typed correctly but you’re still having trouble, try disabling the “IPv6” switch in the DNS servers list. If you configure IPv6 DNS servers on a computer without IPv6 connectivity, this could cause connection problems. Good luck!

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Benj Edwards is an Associate Editor for How-To Geek. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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