Can You Use pfSense as a DNS Server?


Scott Campbell

Can You Use pfSense as a DNS Server?

If you’re looking for a powerful and versatile solution to manage your network’s DNS needs, pfSense might just be the answer. Known for its robust firewall capabilities, pfSense can also serve as a reliable DNS server, providing you with complete control over your network’s domain name resolution. In this article, we’ll explore how you can utilize pfSense as a DNS server and the benefits it offers.

What is pfSense?

Before we delve into using pfSense as a DNS server, let’s quickly understand what pfSense is. Developed based on FreeBSD, pfSense is an open-source firewall distribution that offers advanced networking and security features. It provides an intuitive web interface that allows users to easily configure and manage their network settings.

Why Use pfSense as a DNS Server?

While there are various dedicated DNS servers available in the market, utilizing pfSense as your DNS server brings several advantages:

  • Centralized Control: With pfSense as your DNS server, you have complete control over your network’s domain name resolution. You can define custom rules and configurations to suit your specific requirements.
  • Improved Performance: By running your own DNS server on the same network as your clients, you can significantly reduce the latency associated with resolving domain names.

    This leads to faster website loading times and improved overall network performance.

  • Better Security: Using an internal DNS server like pfSense ensures that all DNS queries originating from within your network are handled internally. This reduces the risk of potential attacks or malicious activities by external entities.

Setting Up pfSense as a DNS Server

Setting up pfSense as a DNS server is a straightforward process. Here’s how you can do it:

Step 1: Install pfSense

If you haven’t already, start by downloading and installing pfSense onto a dedicated hardware device or virtual machine. Once installed, access the web interface by entering the assigned IP address into your browser.

Step 2: Configure DNS Resolver

In the pfSense web interface, navigate to Services > DNS Resolver. Enable the DNS resolver and select the desired network interfaces for DNS listening. You can also configure other settings like cache size and domain overrides according to your requirements.

Step 3: Define DNS Forwarders (Optional)

If you prefer to utilize external DNS servers for resolving certain queries, you can define DNS forwarders in pfSense. Navigate to Services > DNS Resolver > General Settings, and enter the IP addresses of your preferred DNS servers in the “DNS Servers” field.

Step 4: Configure DHCP Server (Optional)

If you’re using pfSense as your DHCP server, you can configure it to assign your internal DNS server’s IP address to clients automatically. Navigate to Servers > DHCP Server, select the desired interface, and enter your internal DNS server’s IP address in the “DNS Servers” field.


In conclusion, utilizing pfSense as a DNS server offers numerous benefits, including centralized control, improved performance, and enhanced security. By following a few simple steps, you can set up pfSense as your network’s primary DNS resolver and enjoy the flexibility and control it provides. Whether you’re a small business or a home user, pfSense offers a powerful solution for managing your DNS needs.

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