Best DNS Hosting – Free and Paid
Best DNS Hosting – Free and Paid speed is a key component of website speed, so much so that we including a DNS hosting speed probe in our website speed test tool at https://app.wpspeedfix.com)
We’ve worked with several thousand sites through our agency (this site), our site speed optimization business (WPSpeedFix.com) and our small hosting company (WPAlpha.com) – in 99.9% of cases we use Cloudflare.com for DNS hosting.
The free plan is all you need and you don’t have to use their CDN or security features if you don’t need.
What is DNS hosting?
DNS is one of the most important components of network architecture and the backbone of modern network communications. If it wasn’t for DNS, we’d have to memorize all the IP addresses of the websites we want to use by heart!
One of the ways computers communicate with each other on the internet is through IP addresses, and DNS is a way of addressing computer services. Since we use names of sites rather than IP addresses, if DNS somehow fails we wouldn’t have a way of finding those IP addresses, and thus we’d also be prevented from accessing services on the internet. DNS is the factor which makes the internet service virtual and thus making the IP address not as significant. It also means that if a particular internet service changes their IP address, but keeps its name, probably nobody’s going to notice. This is because of DNS – it makes it much easier to change, move and add services on the internet.
The Importance of DNS
DNS is also important in terms of security.
By using a high-quality DNS hosting provider you’ll be more protected from potential DDoS (aka ‘distributed denial-of-service’ attacks) since they’ve got better and more reliable DNS redundancy. This is the backup mechanism or failsafe solution for DNS outages which may happen as a result of, as we mentioned, DDoS attacks, infrastructure failures, and also configuration errors. In cases like these, a single dedicated DNS server is not enough – you’ll need multiple DNS providers in different networks that’ll ensure DNS availability and cut down the risk of DNS availability. Sure, redundant DNS servers may not be the cost-effective option you’ve been looking for, but it certainly is a very effective way of sustaining DNS availability and mitigating the consequences of DDoS attacks. Just think how bad it would reflect on your website if it becomes inaccessible!
If you’re looking to expand your website, choosing a high-quality DNS host may be like getting a new best friend! You’ll get better reliability, speed, security, and redundancy. DNS (which actually stands for Domain Name Systems) hosts are able to spread your website across servers in different, separate locations, thus optimizing your site’s access for you as well as your clients, users, visitors, shoppers – you name it!
DNS hosting comes in different packages and options. Most of the DNS hosting providers charge for their services, but there are some good quality hosts which are free. A third option is also the option to self-host – but, this would require a high-level of technical IT knowledge and is reserved only for the people that have the time and to either get into it or develop it more. For all the other mortals out there, there’s plenty of great DNS hosting providers that’ll do a perfect job of maintaining your site’s functionality for you!
These (and more) are the reasons why we’ve prepared this article with the best DNS hosting services, where we’ve included both free and paid (premium) versions of it, so you can have a better overview of what’s offered on the market right now and help you make a choice that’ll suit your needs and expectations best.
Before we begin with the actual hosting providers, though, and the information on them, we’d like to say a few more words on the important factors you should focus on when choosing a DNS host.
What to Look for in a Good DNS
As we mentioned earlier, choosing a good DNS hosting provider is critical for your site’s reliability, speed, security, and redundancy, since DNS affects all of these.
This is definitely one of the most important factors when it comes to choosing a DNS provider. This is where it all comes together – the fact that you know your DNS host won’t let you down if or when something happens to your site. Reliability is a factor that encompasses all the three, highly important factors mentioned above.
If you’re running an online business, even a single point of failure is simply unacceptable. In the same way it’s important to store site backups offsite, it’s also very important to use multiple DNS providers. Even though DNS hosting providers have the option through which you can configure secondary nameservers, still nobody can guarantee that all of their services won’t be affected if something happens. You don’t want to put all your valuables in one house, even if you use different corners of it!
What is commonly done, then, is to have a primary and secondary DNS provider. That would mean that the Zones records from your site are synchronized from the primary to the secondary DNS provider. So, if you experience a lookup fail and it times out to the first DNS server, it queries the next DNS server until the correct IP address is returned. If it’s not able to resolve, the notorious “This webpage is not available” page error shows up.
However, DNS cache is done by ISPs, and this means that if your primary provider goes down, it’s still going to try to query the first DNS server for some time before doing a query for the secondary one. You can fix this quickly and simply if you temporarily change the TTL (time to live) setting for the DNS record, and direct your site’s traffic to the secondary DNS server till the outage gets fixed.
Generally speaking, it’s usually better to maintain a longer TTL for DNS records, since this would mean the DNS will be cached by your ISP. But not only that – this also means that users and page visitors might not notice if your DNS provider goes down for a short period of time.
Speed is another important factor when it comes to choosing a good quality DNS host. If you opt for a fast DNS hosting provider, then you’ll definitely see how there’ll be less of a latency period between the DNS lookup and TTFB. You can do a test of the DNS lookup time and TTFB with a website speed test tool. If you need help with this, you’re more than welcome to check out our own speed testing tool, the SiteSpeedBot, which is fresh out of the oven!
And just like with CDNs (or Content Delivery Networks), DNS hosting providers also have multiple POPs. Generally speaking, the more locations there are, the better it is since this would mean that a DNS server closer to the visitor is more likely to exist – and it’s not to be taken for granted since it will help decrease the lookup time. You’ve got to remember, however, that ISPs also cache the DNS, which means that, by setting a longer TTL you’ll also get fewer queries to your DNS servers.
In the past couple of years, DDoS attacks have been reported in 76, and have exceeded 23,000 on an annual level. These Distributed Denial-of-Service (what the abbreviation DDoS stands for) attacks are a type of DOS attack which attempts to make a certain network source or machine unavailable. These attacks usually involve more than one unique IP address – in fact, thousands of them! – and often do a spoof of DNS queries.
As you can see, this is also one of those instances where using multiple DNS providers can prove to be of vital importance for your site.
Some of the DNS hosts which are free are also equipped with features that include firewall policies, rate limiting, filtering, and also blocking, all of them helpful in alleviating and preventing DDoS attacks. Being signed up on multiple DNS providers also means that if one is taken down following a DDoS attack, you’ll always be able to rely on your secondary DNS provider for backup.
Best DNS Hosting – Free and Paid
Okay, now that we’ve covered the basics on DNS and DNS hosting requirements, we can get down to the actual providers and give you a little bit of info and insight into each of them. So, here’s a rundown of the best FREE and PAID DNS hosting providers currently on the internet.
The Free Ones
According to dnsperf.com, CloudFlare is the fastest DNS hosting provider in the world. They’re also one of the largest DNS hosting providers with a free plan. Another thing is that CloudFlare is one of the most affordable DNS provider options on the internet, which makes it probably the most popular one as well. It fares very highly in online reviews as a top-rated DNS hosting provider service. CloudFlare also has the highest query speed worldwide.
One of the main and most beloved assets of this provider is its speed. CloudFlare is definitely on the very top when it comes to speed, outstripping all of its competitors, even when it comes to premium DNS providers.
CloudFlare is, however, a managed DNS host, and that means that you as a user won’t have much control over it. This might be a pass for some website owners who prefer to exercise more control over their sites. If that’s the case another DNS host from thyis list can be more suitable.
But, another great thing about CloudFlare is that it’s equipped with additional security features like blocking, filtering and rate-limiting.
And even though we put it in the free section, CloudFlare also comes with a pro plan, which is 20$ a month, and a business plan that starts at 200$ a month. For a lot of businesses, though, the free version would be just enough.
You might’ve heard this name tied to domain registration, but Namecheap also offers some neat free DNS hosting services that feature DynamicDNS. Their free DNS can be a great backup or secondary DNS hosting provider, in addition to your primary one.
It’s got a free DNS management feature, which is open for the public and doesn’t require purchasing a domain name from them. Some of the key features Namecheap offers (alongside the fully functional DNS) are email forwarding, dynamic DNS, URL forwarding with no ads, as well as advanced records like SRV, among many others.
They currently support A/AAAA/CNAME/NS/MX//TXT/SRV DNS record types. One of the main reasons why Namecheap is on this list is because they’ve got secure and reliable name servers located in different geographic locations, which also means an additional helping hand in increasing your site’s performance and speed. They also have a DNS management console that’s easy-to-use, which will allow you to fully manage your DNS settings.
Hurricane Electric IS provides a completely free DNS hosting service, providing you with strong connectivity throughout the whole world. They’ve got a network that’s made up of more than 60 POPs, which is able to support IPv6 everywhere.
Hurricane Electric DNS also allows for a low TTL, something which a lot of free DNS hosting providers don’t offer. It’s also got some really nice DNS management features.
A slight downside might be its interface – it’s a tad old and kinda not in line with contemporary trends in web design. However, it’s a very solid DNS provider, trusted by many website owners because it’s run by a reliable and well-known internet company.
BuddyNS is a great secondary free DNS hosting provider. It also fares among the friendliest and easiest to use hosting services. BuddyNS offers a simple, reliable, secure service that has optimal performances.
It’s got the automatic synchronization feature, which masters in the course of 10 minutes, but also immediately if you use SyncNOW! and NOTIFY. BuddyNS has a 100% uptime since inception, with 8 POPs throughout the globe. It also has a cPanel/WHM integration.
Operating since 1997, Dynu is a free dynamic DNS service provider. Like CloudFlare, it also offers free and premium versions, the premium containing certain additional features.
The free option is not to be underestimated though – it will provide you with plenty of reliable DNS uptime managed through servers located in a number of places throughout the globe. This implies that top-level domains will also work, regardless of whether they belong to one country or another.
The forever flee plan includes 4 domains, 4 subdomains, 4 MX records, 4 custom DNS records, 4 web redirects, and also certain offline settings. The records which they include are the following: A, AAAA, CNAME, PTR, TXT, SPF, SRV, HINFO.
Its DDNS client is free to download, and it’ll run in the background, automatically updating the
DNS record once your IP address changes.
The free version allows all the services to be available for just one subdomain. Email service, domain registration, and SSL certificates are some of the stuff that is included in these services. The paid version will give you all the services for an unlimited amount of subdomains.
Rackspace is another provider that offers free hosting services and management. This is a free hosting service, but only to current customers. This provider holds a very impressive track record of uptimes, even with just 5 or 6 POPs.
Rackspace’s main features include flexible access and load balancing, as well as automated migrations and IP Anycast routing. These features are easily set up through their RESTful API and their cloud control panel. Their easy-to-use interface is another great asset.
Rackspace is one of those providers that allows you to have complete control of your DNS. Thanks to their API and Cloud Control Panel, you’ll be able to do various tasks such as modifying, removing or adding domains, records, and much more.
Another very solid free DNS hosting provider, CloudDNS has servers that span the continents of Australia, Asia, North America and Europe (4 DNS servers). In its DNS network platform, it also employs 3 Zones, Dynamic DNS, Round Robin (RR) architecture, 3 Mail forwards, support for native IPv6, as well as unlimited requests or records.
ClouDNS is claiming 100% uptime, and it has a very easy to use interface for zone management and Dynamic DNS support. Their online ticket system also works pretty well if you run into any problems with your DNS server.
Recently they’ve also introduced premium plans that have GeoDNS and DDoS protected servers.
GeoScaling handles up to 1 million DNS requests in a month, meaning it’s got some nice things to offer and should definitely not be overlooked. They are all for optimal user experience, which is why they’ll redirect your users by AS number, uptime, country, custom rules and also server load.
With their low TTL, the updated records are always available live online in less than 5 minutes. GeoScaling supports several types of normal records, with the inclusion of SRV (Service Record). They also offer Dynamic DNS support, allowing you to upload, import and also paste BIND zone files.
With another easy to use interface, you’ll successfully add and update DNS records without having to reload the web page. And, any change that might happen is going to be propagated to the nameservers immediately.
The Paid Ones
Ok, so the list of best free DNS hosting providers is by no means exhaustive, but we’ve tried to make an overview of the best ones currently on the market. They are definitely the ones you should pay attention to if you don’t know where to look or are split in between choices.
Next, we’re going to go over the best DNS hosting providers that have premium versions or only paid plans. Brace yourselves for some pretty neat DNS hosting features and benefits!
The WordPress name is usually not immediately connected with DNS hosting, but it certainly does offer this service for the users that get a domain name. WordPress has, in fact, one of the most reliable and also one of the fastest query speeds in the world (currently in third place in the world, according to dnsperf.com).
WordPress offers options for public or private domain name registration. With the public registration, your contact information can be looked up by anyone. The private registration option allows for the information to be hidden from anybody that wants to find it. Still, you will get to enjoy all that comes with WordPress domain registration.
When it comes to pricing, WordPress offers some very fair prices, compared to its competition. 13$ per year is indeed a reasonable DNS service price, which amounts slightly more than a dollar per month.
Dyn is among the oldest DNS hosting providers on the internet, which means it’s got lots of credibility to its name. It’s mostly considered as an enterprise DNS provider, which means their clients are mostly business or professional websites.
Along with its hosting services, Dyn offers a bunch of other benefits like better site improvement with data and analytic services.
Their cheapest plan starts at 5$ per month, making it a very affordable DNS hosting plan when compared to other similar companies.
If you’re in more for the managed service, you can get it by adding just 2$ more dollars a month. If, however, you want more query capacity, records, and domains, you will need to pay starting from $35 a month (and upwards).
Perhaps not the first name that comes up once you search for a DNS provider. This is no surprise since Edgecast’s primary function was as a CDN provider. In 2013, however, it branched out to include DNS services as well.
The Edgecast Route (also known as a Verizon Route, since Edgecast is now a division of Verizon) is one that’s based on Edgecast’s own, internal DNS technology. By adapting their own internal technology for a wider clientele, Edgecast is underscoring the reliability of its services.
Pricing is a bit different in this company, although it’s still got a price list that’s one of the most affordable ones out there. Edgecast, in fact, doesn’t have a fixed price for all DNS services; it actually bases its prices on the number of zones in question, the number of queries, as well as the number of DNS health checks that the service is receiving per month.
The pricing is also dependent on your choice – whether you want a standard DNS routing or an advanced one with benefits like geo-blocking, for example. The pricing usually somewhere around $0.40 per million queries, which is not expensive really, especially not when it comes to an enterprise DNS provider.
DNSMadeEasy is another DNS hosting provider that ranks among the ones with the highest speed. It’s been on the market for a while now, and it’s got a reputation behind its name, managing over 800.000 domains, and working with clients such as Tumblr, Hyundai, DuckDuckGo, Sega, eHarmony, Under Armour and many others. DNSMadeEasy is a premium DNS provider and considering what you’re getting, it’s a very affordable one, as well – it offers a lot for what you pay. They offer three paid plans – and the great thing is, for most sites out there, the small business plan will work perfectly. It costs $29.95 for a whole year, and it includes 10 domains, 400 records, and 5 million queries per month. The second business plan starts at $59.95 for the whole year, while the corporate plan is the most expensive, starting from $1499.95 per year. But, as we mentioned earlier, for most small or mid-level online businesses the basic plan would work just fine. Another great thing about DNSMadeEasy is the feature two-factor authentication which is a big deal for a lot of website owners. Domains are pretty important because one of the things you’d definitely wouldn’t want to happen to your website is somebody hijacking it by redirecting your DNS records somewhere else. And DNSMadeEasy has two-factor authentication included in every one of their three plans.And, last but not least, it’s also got a pretty neat 30 free testing period, in which you can decide whether this hosting provider will work best for your website or not!
Well, that about concludes our list of best free and paid DNS hosting providers! As we said, this list is by no means exhaustive, but we did try to point out the DNS providers you should definitely have in mind when making your decision.In order to choose the best DNS host, it’s good to have several aspects in mind, as well as the primary needs of your website, and the way you want to lead your hosting. So, for example, you should ask yourself whether you prefer a managed hosting – or maybe you’d want more one that’ll allow you more control over your site. Pricing is also very important for some people, so you should also have in mind whether you can afford the option you want or not. You should also have a general overview of the features you’d like to be included in the hosting plan, as well as optimal speed and reliability in general.We understand that the choice out there is vast and that choosing a suitable DNS hosting provider is no easy task. But, we hope we made some things a little bit easier for you in this article, and also saved you a little bit of time!