Free secondary (slave) DNS

Need free secondary (slave) domain name servers (DNS)? Luckily there are several stable providers offering this. The following list contains only providers that have proven stability and commitment. The list is based on my own experiences and by going through reviews of the services. Information about the performance of most of the listed providers can be found at DNSPerf, a service monitoring most major DNS providers’ response time and uptime.

Please post your experiences, corrections, and suggestions for free DNS providers currently not included on the list.

Hurricane Electric

Hurricane Electric (HE.net) provides both primary and secondary DNS. DNS is served on a stable and fast anycast network served through their global infrastructure.

Some pros are:

  • Stable and fast anycast network.
  • Rated as one of the fastest DNS networks in the world.
  • A long term player.
  • Low track record of downtime.
  • Offers both primary and secondary DNS.
  • Unmetered DNS queries.
  • Responds to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.
  • Supports “notify”.
  • Supports “stealth master.”
  • Support included.

Some cons are:

  • Limit of 50 domains (zones), and 10.000 records per domain. For personal users and small businesses, this should be more than enough.
  • No DNSSEC support.
  • The interface is quite technical and not user-friendly.
  • Changing primary name server, switching a from secondary DNS to primary, or vice verse means that the domains need to be deleted and added again. With more than a few domains this is a hassle.

I have used HE.net DNS for secondary DNS during the last six months and have a good impression. I have not noticed any downtime, and the servers are providing fast DNS responses. I highly recommend HE.net DNS for both primary and secondary DNS. Their free product will even out beat several paid DNS products. The main disadvantages are the user interface and the missing DNSSEC support.

Website: https://dns.he.net

BuddyNS

BuddyNS is a secondary DNS provider only. They offer both paid and free plans. They allow an unlimited amount of domains, however, on the free plan all DNS requests for all domains must not exceed 300.000 queries per month.

Some pros are:

  • A long term player.
  • Fast synchronization (0-10 minutes).
  • Unlimited zones (aka. domains) and records.
  • Name servers located around the world (however, no anycast network).
  • Responds to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.
  • Supports “notify”.
  • Supports “stealth master.”
  • Support is provided (deferred 24 hours, but still offered).

Some cons are:

  • No anycast network.
  • Limit of 300.000 queries/month total traffic (per-account).
  • No DNSSEC support.
  • Only offering secondary DNS.

BuddyNS seems to provide a very stable and professional DNS solution. I have no personal experience, but they have received decent reviews. They will cover DNS needs for the average user and small businesses. One major disadvantage is the limit of 300.000 DNS queries per month. The amount of DNS queries made in relation to a given domain will depend very much on what the domain is used for. For example, a domain used for a personal or small business website and e-mail will be fine.

Website: http://buddyns.com

NS1

NS1 provides both primary and secondary DNS service. They are providing one of the world’s fastest and most stable DNS networks.

Some pros are:

  • Stable and fast anycast network.
  • Rated as one of the fastest DNS networks in the world.
  • A long term player.
  • Unlimited zones (aka. domains).
  • Responds to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.
  • Includes advanced routing features such as geographic routing.
  • Supports “notify”.
  • Supports “stealth master.”
  • Two monitoring jobs (can detect a down server and reroute traffic.)
  • One filter chain (used to set up an intelligent routing algorithm.)

Some cons are:

  • Limit of 500.000 queries/month total traffic (per-account).
  • Limited to 50 records.
  • No support.

NS1 is running a very solid DNS network and has received positive reviews. The limit of 50 records (e.g. A, MX records, etc.) means that the service only will be interesting for users with a few domains. Individuals and small businesses with limited DNS needs will be able to use a strong free DNS service outcompeting several paid DNS products, but the limits can easily be outgrown. Notice that the free plan is called “free trial”, but seems to be an unlimited trial as long as the number of records and query limitation are not passed.

Website: https://ns1.com/

DNS4.pro

DNS4.pro offers primary or secondary DNS hosting. They offer both a paid and free plan. The free plan allows up to five domains.

Some pros are:

  • Stable and fast anycast network.
  • A long term player.
  • DNSSEC support.
  • Responds to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.
  • Supports “stealth master.”
  • Decent interface.

Some cons are:

  • Limit of 5 DNS zones (domains).
  • Limit of 500.000 queries/month total traffic (per-account).

DNS4.pro has been around for several years and received positive reviews. They are providing a strong free DNS product that will out beat DNS provided by most web hosting companies and several commercial DNS products. The major disadvantage is the limit of only five zones (domains) and to some extent the limit of 500.000 DNS queries per month. They will be a good option for small to medium websites.

Website: http://dns4.pro

ClouDNS

ClouDNS offers primary or secondary DNS hosting. They offer both a paid and free plan. The free plan allows up to three domains.

Some pros are:

  • Unmetered DNS queries.
  • Unlimited records per domain (but only three DNS zones aka. domains)
  • Offers both primary and secondary DNS.
  • Four name servers located at different geographically locations (but no anycast network).
  • Offers dynamic DNS (DDNS or DynDNS).
  • DNSSEC support.
  • Provides basic statistics about number of DNS queries.
  • Three Mail forwards.
  • Web redirects.

Some cons are:

  • No anycast network.
  • Limit of 3 DNS zones (domains).

Website: http://cloudns.net

FreeDNS

FreeDNS (also known as freedns.afraid.org) has proven to be a stable and long-term DNS provider. They offer both primary and secondary DNS. If you don’t have your domain, you can choose up to five free subdomains from a rather comprehensive list of domains.

Some pros are:

  • Stable and fast network.
  • A long term player.
  • Low track record of downtime.
  • Offers both primary and secondary DNS.
  • Responds to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.
  • Unmetered DNS queries.
  • Unlimited zones (domains)
  • DNSSEC support.
  • Offers dynamic DNS (DDNS or DynDNS).
  • Option to add additional external secondary name servers.

Some cons are:

  • Only one name server when used for secondary DNS.
  • The interface is a bit “messy” and not user-friendly.

FreeDNS has been around for many years and manages a rock solid DNS network. A nice feature is that if you use FreeDNS for primary DNS, they allow users to add additional external secondary name servers. If you need a temporary subdomain for development or testing FreeDNS is a great option. They are also a good option for secondary DNS.

Website: http://freedns.afraid.org

1984

1984 Hosting Company provides free basic free primary and secondary DNS.

Some pros are:

  • Stable and fast anycast network.
  • Unmetered DNS queries.
  • Unlimited zones (domains)
  • Offers both primary and secondary DNS.
  • Web redirects
  • DNSSEC support.

Some cons are:

  • No IPv6 DNS support.

Just sign up for an account to get access to the free DNS service.

Website: https://www.1984hosting.com/product/freedns/

XName

XName offers both free primary and secondary DNS hosting. The free service is only intended for personal users and small businesses. They provide a decent and stable service, but DNS query response time is average, and the name servers are not geographically distributed.

Some pros are:

  • Unmetered DNS queries.
  • Unlimited zones (domains)
  • Offers both primary and secondary DNS.
  • Offers dynamic DNS (DDNS or DynDNS).
  • Multi-users groups (with read-only and/or read-write users) with action logs.

Some cons are:

  • No anycast network.
  • Not all name servers respond to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.
  • Average DNS response time.
  • All name servers are placed in the same geographical location (France)

Website: http://xname.org

System NS

System NS provides both primary and secondary DNS.

Some pros are:

  • Four name servers located at different geographically locations (but no anycast network).
  • Unmetered DNS queries.
  • Unlimited zones (domains) and records.

Some cons are:

  • No DNSSEC support.
  • Not all name servers respond to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.

System NS has been around for about three years. Their free DNS product looks promising and interesting, but it is not clear if the service is still in active development.

Website: https://system-ns.com

PUCK

PUCK only provides secondary DNS through a single name server.

Some pros are:

  • A long-term player.
  • Responds to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.
  • Unmetered DNS queries.
  • DNSSEC support.
  • Responds to both IPv4 and IPv6 DNS requests.

Some cons are:

  • Only one secondary name server (located in Chicago, IL, USA).
  • No anycast network.
  • High DNS response time.

I will not recommend PUCK for production domains as only one secondary name server with no anycast support is provided. Since PUCK have shown long-term commitment the PUCK name server can be used in a mix with other name servers, and is a good option for development and test purposes. According to several reports the name server can be quite unstable.

Website: https://puck.nether.net/dns/

Twisted4life

Twisted4life provides free secondary DNS hosting of up to 10 domains. They offer both a free and paid plan.

Some pros are:

  • Provides basic statistics about the number of DNS queries.
  • Unmetered DNS queries.

Some cons are:

  • Only one secondary name server (located in Singapore).
  • No anycast network.
  • Only responds to IPv4 DNS requests.
  • High DNS response time.
  • Limited to 10 zones (domains)
  • Very simple interface missing features, for example, the option to change account e-mail address and password.

I will not recommend Twisted4life for production domains as only one secondary name server with no anycast support is provided on the free plan. Other free services are superior to Twisted4life. As it’s fast and simple to setup an account, adding domains, and configure your primary name server Twisted4life is great for development and testing. The secondary name server can also be used in a blend with secondary name servers from other providers.

Website: https://twisted4life.com

Zoneedit

Zoneedit offers free DNS for two zones on two name servers in separate data centers.

Some pros are:

  • A long-term player.
  • Dynamic DNS.
  • Url Forwarding, cloaked and redirects.
  • Email Forwarding.

Some cons are:

  • Limited to 250,000 queries per month.
  • No anycast network.
  • No DNSSEC support.
  • No IPv6 DNS support.
  • No support, but access to a support community forums.

Website: https://www.zoneedit.com/free-dns/

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