Domain name system (DNS) (also sometimes referred to as domain name service or domain name servers) is an essential part of not only what makes the World Wide Web work, but most parts of the Internet. In essence, DNS is used to translate hostnames into actual IP addresses, routing mail to the right servers, etc. As fast and reliable DNS is quite essential I have here compiled a list of 10 free DNS providers that have proved to offer stable, fast and interesting DNS free of charge. Most the following providers will be able to compete with DNS provided by hosting providers and paid services. Actually, some of the providers listed below are among the most popular DNS providers also offering a limited free plan of their paid plans. You can get more information about the performance of most major DNS providers at DNSPerf.
Please post comments with your experiences with free DNS providers, corrections, and questions.
The following list is in no particular order as it ‘s hard to rank the free DNS providers from best to worst because they provide different types of DNS service. For example, Hurricane Electric (HE.net) provides a stable, fast, and no limits service, but have a simple interface with limited features making it bothersome if you manage several domains and need to make frequent updates. Other free DNS providers offer more features but have different types of limitations, so the best provider depends on your specific needs.
Hurricane Electric is a top class free DNS provider that both can be used for hobby and production domains. They are limited to 50 domains. They provide both primary and secondary DNS. They have a globally distributed network providing fast response time in most parts of the world. The interface is very simplistic and requires a bit of learning.
DNSPref Hurricane Electric (HE.net) performance chart
The well-known proxy and CDN provider CloudFlare is also offering free DNS on a solid anycast network. On special feature is CloudFlares IPv6 Gateway included in the free plan. In case your server only can be accessed through IPv6 CloudFlare provides a gateway and makes your server accessible through IPv4 as well. This does have some limitations in relation to actually having a dedicated static IPv4, but for serving web pages, etc. this will fit common needs. Besides regular DNS service, it’s also possible to add a line of additional services such as proxy, caching of some static files, DNSSEC, and SSL. They offer service for unlimited domains.
DNSPref CloudFlare performance chart
DNS4.pro is offering an easy to setup and use DNS solution on an anycast network with nodes in North America, Europe, and Asia. They are limited to five domains.
Well established and known for providing a high-quality DNS product. They offer unlimited domains. A nice feature is that if you use FreeDNS for primary DNS, they allow users to add additional external secondary name severs. Part of the idea behind FreeDNS is to allow people with no domain to create a free subdomain of domains using primary DNS from FreeDNS (it is possible to pay a fee to avoid this). While the idea of sharing is a good and useful it will also be a major concern for many domain owners as they partly lose control of how their domain is used and exposed. This is the main reason why I not personally use FreeDNS for primary DNS for any of my domains.
DNSPref FreeDNS (Afraid) performance chart
NS1 is one of the major DNS players and is used by some of the largest Internet companies. They are limited to a single domain. 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.
DNSPref NS1 performance chart
A professional DNS provider offering a free limited plan of the paid plans. They are limited to three domains.
DNSPref ClouDNS performance chart
1984 Hosting Company provides free primary and secondary DNS. Besides normal DNS records they also support web redirects. As indicated by the name they focus on protection of freedom and civil rights.
GeoScaling is a relatively new DNS provider. What makes them interesting is that they are offering what they call smart subdomains. Whenever a user is requesting a smart subdomain, it’s possible to get a different kind of information, for example, the country of the user so the request can be redirected to the nearest server of the country. They offer up to 1 million DNS requests per month.
System-NS is a relative new DNS provider offering free DNS. While still upcoming they have shown to be serious and could be an interesting alternative to other free DNS providers with more limitations. They offer unlimited domains.
Namecheap is best known as a popular domain registrar. What is less known is that they also offer free DNS for domains registered at any registrar and not just at Namecheap. They offer unlimited domains.
DNSPref Namecheap performance chart