Does a PiHole Act as a DNS Server?


Heather Bennett

Does a PiHole Act as a DNS Server?

When it comes to network security and privacy, there are various tools and technologies available to help keep our online activities secure. One such tool that has gained popularity in recent years is PiHole.

But what exactly is PiHole, and does it act as a DNS server? Let’s dive in and find out.

What is PiHole?

PiHole is a network-wide ad-blocking solution that works by acting as a DNS sinkhole. It is designed to run on small devices such as the Raspberry Pi, hence the name “PiHole.” The primary purpose of PiHole is to block unwanted advertisements at the network level before they reach any device on your network.

How Does PiHole Work?

To understand how PiHole works, let’s first talk about DNS. DNS stands for Domain Name System, and it is responsible for translating human-readable domain names into IP addresses that computers can understand. When you type a website address into your browser’s address bar, your device sends a DNS request to a DNS server to retrieve the corresponding IP address.

PiHole acts as a DNS server itself and intercepts all DNS requests made by devices on your network. It then checks whether the requested domain matches any known ad-serving domains. If it does, PiHole blocks the request and prevents the ad from being displayed.

Is PiHole Only for Blocking Ads?

No, although blocking ads is its primary function, PiHole can do much more than that. Since it acts as a DNS server for your network, you can use it to enforce content filtering rules and block access to specific websites or categories of websites. This makes it an excellent tool for parental control or preventing access to malicious websites.

How to Set Up PiHole as a DNS Server?

Setting up PiHole as a DNS server is relatively straightforward. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Step 1: Get a Raspberry Pi or any other compatible device.
  • Step 2: Install the Raspberry Pi OS or any other Linux-based operating system.
  • Step 3: Install PiHole by running the installation script provided on the official PiHole website.
  • Step 4: During the installation, you will be asked to choose an upstream DNS provider. This is the DNS server that PiHole will use to resolve non-blocked domain names. You can choose from popular providers like Google DNS or OpenDNS, or you can specify custom ones.
  • Step 5: Once the installation is complete, configure your router’s DHCP settings to assign the IP address of your PiHole device as the primary DNS server for your network.


PiHole acts as a DNS server and provides network-wide ad-blocking capabilities. It intercepts DNS requests and blocks requests to known ad-serving domains, effectively eliminating unwanted advertisements at the network level.

Additionally, it can be used for content filtering and enforcing access restrictions. Setting up PiHole as a DNS server is easy and can greatly enhance your network’s security and privacy.

Remember, using PiHole does not replace other security measures such as antivirus software or firewall protection, but it does add an extra layer of defense against online threats while improving your browsing experience by removing annoying ads.

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