What DNS Server Does Pihole Use?


Scott Campbell

When setting up a Pi-hole, one of the important considerations is the DNS server it uses. The Domain Name System (DNS) is responsible for translating domain names into IP addresses, allowing us to access websites using human-readable names instead of complicated numerical addresses.

Pi-hole acts as a network-wide ad blocker by intercepting DNS requests and filtering out advertisements. Let’s dive into the DNS server options available for Pi-hole.

Default DNS Server

By default, Pi-hole uses dnsmasq as its DNS server. Dnsmasq is a lightweight, easy-to-configure DNS forwarder and DHCP server commonly used on small networks or personal devices. It provides caching and can be customized with additional configuration files if needed.

Alternative DNS Servers

If you prefer to use an alternative DNS server with your Pi-hole installation, you have several options.

1. Google Public DNS

Google Public DNS is a popular choice among users due to its reliability and fast response times. To use Google Public DNS with Pi-hole, you need to edit the /etc/dnsmasq.d/01-pihole.conf file and replace the existing nameserver entries with:

  • server=8.8.8
  • server=8.4.4

This configuration tells dnsmasq to forward all DNS queries to Google’s public servers.

2. Cloudflare DNS

Cloudflare DNS, another popular choice, offers enhanced privacy features such as support for encrypted DNS over HTTPS (DoH). To use Cloudflare DNS, edit the /etc/dnsmasq.conf file and replace the existing nameserver entries with:

  • server=1.1.1
  • server=1.0.1

This configuration directs dnsmasq to forward DNS queries to Cloudflare’s servers.

3. OpenDNS

OpenDNS provides various DNS services, including free and paid options with additional security features. To use OpenDNS with Pi-hole, modify the /etc/dnsmasq.conf file and replace the existing nameserver entries with:

  • server=
  • server=208.220.220

This configuration instructs dnsmasq to forward DNS queries to OpenDNS servers.


Pi-hole offers flexibility in choosing the DNS server that best suits your needs. While dnsmasq is the default option, you can easily configure Pi-hole to use alternative servers such as Google Public DNS, Cloudflare DNS, or OpenDNS by editing the appropriate configuration file.

Remember to restart Pi-hole’s DNS resolver after making any changes for them to take effect:

  • sudo service pihole-FTL restart

Choose a DNS server that aligns with your requirements in terms of performance, privacy, and additional features, and enjoy an ad-free browsing experience with Pi-hole!

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