What Is the Best Upstream DNS Server for Pihole?


Heather Bennett

When setting up a Pi-hole, one of the key decisions you need to make is choosing the best upstream DNS server. The upstream DNS server is responsible for resolving domain names and providing the corresponding IP addresses. The choice of upstream DNS server can have a significant impact on the performance and reliability of your Pi-hole setup.

Why is Choosing the Right Upstream DNS Server Important?

Before we dive into the best options, let’s understand why choosing the right upstream DNS server is crucial for your Pi-hole:

  • Performance: The speed at which a DNS query is resolved can affect how quickly web pages load. A fast upstream DNS server can help reduce latency and improve overall browsing experience.
  • Reliability: An unreliable DNS server may result in intermittent or failed connections.

    It’s essential to choose an upstream server that has a good uptime record and minimal downtime.

  • Security: Some upstream servers offer additional security features such as blocking known malware and phishing websites. These features can provide an extra layer of protection for your network.

The Best Upstream DNS Servers for Pi-hole

Now that we understand why choosing the right upstream DNS server is important, let’s explore some of the top options:

1. Google Public DNS

Note: Google Public DNS supports IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

Google Public DNS is one of the most popular choices due to its reliability and performance. It has a vast global infrastructure that ensures quick response times and high availability. Additionally, Google Public DNS supports advanced security features like blocking malicious domains.

2. Cloudflare DNS

Cloudflare DNS is known for its emphasis on privacy and security. It offers fast resolution times and has a strong focus on protecting user data. Cloudflare DNS also supports DNS over HTTPS (DoH) and DNS over TLS (DoT), which encrypt DNS queries, further enhancing privacy.

3. OpenDNS

OpenDNS is a popular choice for its robust security features. It provides protection against known malicious websites, phishing attempts, and botnet activity. OpenDNS also offers customizable filtering options, making it suitable for families or organizations that want to restrict access to certain categories of websites.

How to Change the Upstream DNS Server in Pi-hole

Changing the upstream DNS server in Pi-hole is a straightforward process:

  1. Access the Pi-hole admin interface by entering its IP address in your web browser.
  2. Navigate to the Settings tab.
  3. Select the DNS tab.
  4. In the Upstream DNS Servers section, enter the IP addresses of your preferred servers.
  5. Click Save and Apply Changes.

Note: It’s a good practice to have multiple upstream DNS servers configured as fallback options in case one becomes unavailable.


The choice of upstream DNS server plays a crucial role in optimizing the performance, reliability, and security of your Pi-hole setup. Google Public DNS, Cloudflare DNS, and OpenDNS are all excellent options to consider based on your specific requirements. Remember to configure multiple servers for added reliability, and always monitor their performance to ensure optimal functionality.

By selecting the best upstream DNS server for your Pi-hole setup, you can enhance your browsing experience and protect your network from potential threats.

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