How to get faster and more secure browsing on ChromeOS

We use the internet on a daily basis visiting our favourite websites. However, did you know every time you visit a website your browser needs access to a DNS server?

A DNS server is a huge directory that links a domain web address to the correct IP address. Nobody visits a website by typing in an IP address, instead, we enter the domain name such as facebook.com. When we do this your browser needs to access a DNS server to see what the IP address is for that specific web address.

Once the browser has linked the domain name to the IP address you then get access to the website on your browser. Therefore, all browsers need access to a DNS server and this is no different when using a Chromebook.

You need to ensure your DNS connection is secure

The first thing that you need to check is that your DNS connection is secure. If you visit a website that uses the more secure HTTPS, it will only be truly secure if your DNS connection is also secure. By default, your Chromebook should do this over a secure connection. If you’re uncertain whether this is the case you can check from your ChromeOS settings.

It will also be the case that your DNS server by default is provided by your Internet Service provider (ISP). The Chrome browser by default uses the DNS records provided by your ISP when you visit websites.

Although in most cases your ISP DNS server should be secure. It’s impossible to know for sure, as you’ve possibly never looked into this. Also, not all ISPs necessarily use their own DNS server, which is what I found when checking my own ChromeOS computer.

Your ISP DNS Server

Some ISP providers may use their own DNS servers, whereas, others may outsource this to a third-party company that operates a DNS server for them. Although this isn’t necessarily an issue, it’s very unlikely you have any idea about this third party and how they use your data.

Although some ISPs state they do not use data gathered from their DNS servers. It isn’t illegal for them to do so, which means they may gather data from all the websites you visit. It’s unlikely they would look at data for individuals, as they most likely gather data by region rather than a specific individual.

If they do use a third-party DNS provider then you’ve most likely agreed to this when signing the terms and conditions. How many of us check these T&Cs before signing a contract? Therefore, you’ll most likely know very little about how your DNS data is used.

Using your own third-party DNS server

The good news is you don’t have to use your ISP DNS server, as you can choose to use another third-party DNS. This option is easily changed in your ChromeOS settings, and you’ll find a list of the most popular third-party DNS providers.

These include DNS providers such as Google and Cloudflare. Both of these companies are huge, and although you may not have heard of Cloudflare, I’m assuming you’ve heard of Google.

I personally use the Google DNS server on my ChromeOS devices rather than my ISP DNS. This is because my own ISP does use a third party that I’ve never heard of before. Even if the DNS was managed by my ISP I prefer to use the Google DNS because it’s faster and I know the connection is secure.

Google DNS server is secure

The Google DNS server will always offer you a secure connection. Therefore, when you use Google DNS rather than your ISP DNS, you can be confident that your connection is more secure.

If you’re visiting websites such as banking that use HTTPS. I’m sure you’d want to make sure the DNS connection is also secure. If you visit a website that uses HTTPS, but the DNS connection isn’t secure, you could be at risk of man-in-the-middle attacks. This is where your data can be grabbed by a third party before it is sent to the website you’re visiting.

Google DNS always uses a secure connection, which is also the same for Cloudflare. There will be other third-party DNS providers who do the same. Also, when I choose to use Google DNS I’m provided with a link to their privacy policy. This means I can check how they use my data from the DNS data they gather. This provides me with a lot more information about how this data is used compared to using my ISP DNS settings.

Google DNS server can be quicker

It isn’t always going to be the case that you will get a quicker browsing experience using Google DNS rather than your ISP DNS. However, my personal experience is that I do get slightly quicker access to websites that I visit.

This will depend on where you live, so you may want to try it out and see if your web browsing is impacted in any way. Although the difference is most likely only milliseconds, it can make a difference when visiting many different websites throughout the day.

Every time you visit a website throughout the day a connection to your DNS server is made. Therefore, the speed of the DNS server can make a big difference when surfing online. I’m sure you’ve typed in a web address and had to wait longer than usual for the website to load. Although there can be many reasons for this, the DNS server can also impact how quickly a page loads.

Summary

It isn’t always going to be the case that you’ll want to change your DNS server. However, I do think it’s a good idea to check the DNS server you’re using. If your ISP outsources to another company, you’re essentially sharing your data with a company you have no relationship with.

This is why I prefer to use Google DNS because I have access to their privacy policy, which makes me feel more in control. Also, the speed when accessing websites does appear faster when I use Google DNS.

If you want to know more about this, and how you can access your ChromeOS DNS settings. Watch the video further up this page, which will explain what to look for and how you can change your DNS settings.

Leave a comment