DNS Resolvers Performance compared: CloudFlare x Google x Quad9 x OpenDNS

A couple of months ago I did a performance comparison between some of the top free DNS Resolvers available. It was just after Quad9 had launched and I was trying to decide which one to use and recommend to families and friends. Google, OpenDNS, Quad9, .. some many options… I love options …

And things just got better. CloudFlare, one of the companies that know the most about Internet performance recently launched their own free DNS resolver. It supports DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS by default, which makes it even more interesting.

Now we have an even more interesting playing field: Google's 8.8.8.8, Quad9’s 9.9.9.9 and CloudFlare's 1.1.1.1 , in addittion to OpenDNS's 208.67.222.222 and a few other niche providers as options for us to use.

Providers Tested

Let's compare them and see how fast they are from across the world. Those were the top 8 free DNS providers that we chose to evaluate:

  • Google 8.8.8.8: Private and unfiltered. Most popular option.
  • CloudFlare 1.1.1.1: Private and unfiltered. New player.
  • Quad9 9.9.9.9: Private and security aware. New player that blocks access to malicious domains.
  • OpenDNS 208.67.222.222: Old player that blocks malicious domains and offers the option to block adult content.
  • Norton DNS 199.85.126.20: Old player that blocks malicious domains and is integrated with their Antivirus.
  • CleanBrowsing 185.228.168.168: Private and security aware. New player that blocks access to adult content.
  • Yandex DNS 77.88.8.7: Old player that blocks malicious domains. Very popular in Russia.
  • Comodo DNS 8.26.56.26: Old player that blocks malicious domains.

That's a quick feature breakdown between them regarding their privacy options:

Privacy options comparison

The Privacy option above is based on the providers promise to do not log or share your DNS requests.

Locations

We ran our tests from 18 locations from around the globe. We used mostly VPS providers + some broadband locations to try to query their DNS from as many places as we could. It will tell us how well connected they are, where their datacenters are located and how close someone's experience in that area will be. Locations chosen:

  • North America: San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Atlanta, Dallas, Fremont, San Francisco
  • Europe: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt
  • Asia: Tokyo, Singapore, Bangalore (India), Sydney, Brisbane (Australia)
  • South America: Sao Paulo

Update: there is this tool that you can run from your own location to compare the performance of these providers. I tested it myself and worked pretty well. Try it out and let me know the results from your city/ISP, and I will update this post.

Results Summary

Our test was very simple and we performed 70 DNS lookups throughout the course of an hour for different popular domains (google, facebook, twitter, gmail, etc). We averaged all the requests per location to get an overall performance indicator per DNS resolver.

TLDR / Summary

  • All providers (except Yandex) performed very well in North America and Europe. They all had under 15ms response time across the US, Canada and Europe, which is amazing. In reality, you can choose any one of them and do not notice the few msec of latency difference. However, Asia and South America made the difference in the overall averages (and finding the winner) as some of the providers are not well connected there.
  • CloudFlare was the fastest DNS for 72% of all the locations. It had an amazing low average of 4.98 ms across the globe.
  • Google and Quad9 were close for second and third respectively. Quad9 was faster than Google in North America and Europe, but under performed in Asia / South America.
  • CloudFlare has a strong presence everywhere. While Google and Quad9 had some high response times from some locations, CloudFlare performed well from everywhere.
  • Yandex is only for Russia. It doesn't leverage Anycast like the other providers, and was very slow from everywhere.
  • CleanBrowsing was the fastest provider offering adult (porn) content filtering.
  • We know we can't compare these providers 1 to 1, as they all have special features that can add some latency (Quad9 and Comodo blocks access to malicious domains, for example). Take the results as is.

Global Average

#1 CloudFlare: 4.98 ms
#2 Google: 16.44 ms
#3 Quad9: 18.25 ms
#4 CleanBrowsing: 19.14 ms
#5 Norton: 34.75 ms
#6 OpenDNS: 46.51 ms
#7 Comodo: 71.90
#8 Yandex: 169.91

North America Average

#1 CloudFlare: 3.93 ms
#2 Quad9: 7.21 ms
#3 Norton: 8.32 ms
#4 Google: 8.53 ms
#5 CleanBrowsing: 11.83 ms
#6 OpenDNS: 14.66 ms
#7 Comodo: 25.91 ms
#8 Yandex: 119.09 ms

Europe Average

#1 CloudFlare: 2.96
#2 Quad9: 4.35
#3 CleanBrowsing: 5.74
#4 Google: 7.17
#5 OpenDNS: 8.99
#6 Norton: 10.35
#7 Comodo: 13.06
#8 Yandex: 35.74

Results Data

USA, NewYork
 #1 Quad9 1.50 ms
 #2 CloudFlare 1.57 ms
 #4 Norton_DNS 7.28 ms
 #5 Google_DNS 7.71 ms
 #6 OpenDNS 9.71 ms
 #6 CleanBrowsing 10.85 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 12.00 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 108.14 ms
USA, San Diego
 #1 CloudFlare 8.57 ms
 #2 Norton_DNS 9.00 ms
 #3 Google_DNS 14.28 ms
 #4 CleanBrowsing 19.28 ms
 #5 OpenDNS 19.42 ms
 #6 Quad9 19.42 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 40.00 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 193.57 ms
Canada, Toronto
 #1 CloudFlare 3.42 ms
 #2 Google_DNS 9.42 ms
 #3 Norton_DNS 13.00 ms
 #4 CleanBrowsing 13.71 ms
 #5 Quad9 15.28 ms
 #6 OpenDNS 17.85 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 21.71 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 124.14 ms
Canada, Montreal
 #1 CleanBrowsing 15.28 ms
 #2 Google_DNS 16.71 ms
 #3 CloudFlare 17.00 ms
 #4 Quad9 17.71 ms
 #5 OpenDNS 23.42 ms
 #6 Norton_DNS 25.71 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 84.28 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 118.85 ms
USA, Atlanta
 #1 Quad9 1.71 ms
 #2 CloudFlare 1.85 ms
 #3 Google_DNS 4.14 ms
 #4 CleanBrowsing 15.42 ms
 #5 Norton_DNS 17.00 ms
 #6 OpenDNS 17.14 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 18.57 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 127.57 ms
USA, Dallas
 #1 CloudFlare 2.10 ms
 #2 Norton_DNS 3.14 ms
 #3 Quad9 3.42 ms
 #4 OpenDNS 6.71 ms
 #5 Google_DNS 7.14 ms
 #6 CleanBrowsing 10.85 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 38.42 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 153.28 ms
USA, Fremont
 #1 CloudFlare 2.00 ms
 #2 Norton_DNS 6.14 ms
 #3 Quad9 11.00 ms
 #4 CleanBrowsing 11.85 ms
 #5 Google_DNS 13.71 ms
 #6 Comodo_DNS 22.00 ms
 #7 OpenDNS 24.42 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 185.00 ms
USA, San Francisco
 #1 Norton_DNS 2.00 ms
 #2 Quad9 2.14 ms
 #3 CloudFlare 2.85 ms
 #4 Google_DNS 12.28 ms
 #5 CleanBrowsing 21.14 ms
 #6 Comodo_DNS 22.14 ms
 #7 OpenDNS 28.00 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 180.42 ms
UK, London
 #1 CloudFlare 1.14 ms
 #2 Quad9 1.85 ms
 #3 CleanBrowsing 2.00 ms
 #4 Norton_DNS 6.57 ms
 #5 Google_DNS 7.71 ms
 #6 Comodo_DNS 9.85 ms
 #7 OpenDNS 9.85 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 35.57 ms
France, Paris
 #1 CloudFlare 5.14 ms
 #2 Comodo_DNS 10.00 ms
 #3 Google_DNS 10.14 ms
 #4 Quad9 12.71 ms
 #5 OpenDNS 13.57 ms
 #7 CleanBrowsing 14.85 ms
 #6 Norton_DNS 23.85 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 38.14 ms
NL, Amsterdam
 #1 CloudFlare 1.14 ms
 #2 CleanBrowsing 1.14 ms
 #3 Quad9 1.71 ms
 #4 Google_DNS 2.71 ms
 #5 OpenDNS 4.42 ms
 #6 Norton_DNS 9.85 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 12.85 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 40.42 ms
Germany, Frankfurt
 #1 Norton_DNS 1.14 ms
 #2 Quad9 1.14 ms
 #3 CloudFlare 4.42 ms
 #4 CleanBrowsing 5.00 ms
 #5 Google_DNS 8.14 ms
 #6 OpenDNS 8.14 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 19.57 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 28.85 ms
Japan, Tokyo
 #1 CloudFlare 2.00 ms
 #2 CleanBrowsing 2.14 ms
 #3 Norton_DNS 6.14 ms
 #4 Google_DNS 17.28 ms
 #5 Quad9 40.57 ms
 #6 Comodo_DNS 124.14 ms
 #7 OpenDNS 125.71 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 283.00 ms
Singapore
 #1 CloudFlare 1.14 ms
 #2 Google_DNS 2.00 ms
 #3 Quad9 2.14 ms
 #4 CleanBrowsing 2.28 ms
 #5 OpenDNS 28.14 ms
 #6 Norton_DNS 34.14 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 203.71 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 343.00 ms
India, Bang
 #1 CloudFlare 7.42 ms
 #2 Norton_DNS 21.28 ms
 #3 Quad9 38.85 ms
 #4 Google_DNS 40.71 ms
 #5 OpenDNS 59.42 ms
 #6 CleanBrowsing 138.71 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 150.57 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 171.57 ms
Australia, Sydney
 #1 CloudFlare 22.28 ms
 #2 Quad9 25.00 ms
 #3 Google_DNS 26.14 ms
 #4 CleanBrowsing 34.57 ms
 #5 OpenDNS 37.85 ms
 #6 Norton_DNS 164.57 ms
 #7 Comodo_DNS 186.28 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 352.14 ms
Australia, Brisbane
 #1 CloudFlare 3.00 ms
 #2 CleanBrowsing 13.57 ms
 #3 Quad9 17.71 ms
 #4 Google_DNS 66.14 ms
 #5 Norton_DNS 160.14 ms
 #6 Comodo_DNS 188.28 ms
 #7 OpenDNS 190.28 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 336.71 ms
Brasil, Sao Paulo
 #1 CloudFlare 2.71 ms
 #2 CleanBrowsing 12.00 ms
 #3 Google_DNS 29.71 ms
 #4 Norton_DNS 114.71 ms
 #5 Quad9 114.71 ms
 #6 Comodo_DNS 129.85 ms
 #7 OpenDNS 213.14 ms
 #8 Yandex_DNS 238.14 ms
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