Unlike most competitors, NextDNS (opens in new tab) is a relatively new DNS service (opens in new tab) . NextDNS Inc, the company behind it, was founded in 2019 by two French-American entrepreneurs, Romain Cointepas and Olivier Poitrey.
Before launching NextDNS, Poitrey was the Director of Engineering at Netflix, the popular video streaming service, and a co-founder of Dailymotion, a video hosting site. Cointepas was also an executive at Dailymotion before teaming up to start NextDNS.
NextDNS launched in 2019 as a public DNS resolver with support for list-based blocking. It added more features gradually and finally exited beta in May 2020.
NextDNS: Plans and pricing
There’s a free version of NextDNS anyone can use. However, it has a limit of 300,000 queries per month, which active internet users can easily surpass. Hence, you may need a premium plan to make the best of NextDNS, and the platform offers three such plans; Pro, Business, and Education.
The Pro plan costs $1.99 per month or $19.90 per year (17% discount) for a single user. It provides unlimited queries, configurations, and community support.
The Business plan costs $19.90 per month or $199 if you pay annually (17% discount) for every 50 employees within an organization. The Education plan costs $19.90 per month or $199 annually for every 250 students. Subscribers to the Pro and Education plans get all the usual features plus email support from the company.
NextDNS’s pricing strategy is almost unbeatable. The platform provides great features at much lower costs than many competitors. You can pay using credit/debit cards, PayPal, or cryptocurrencies.
As the name suggests, DNS resolution is the core feature of the NextDNS platform. DNS refers to the domain name system, the decentralized naming system governing the web. Ever wonder why a simple query on your web browser, e.g., Google.com, almost always takes you to the right destination? It’s because your internet service provider’s DNS resolver knows the correct IP address for Google.com and always directs your requests there.
The example above should tell you how important DNS is to the internet. Without it, you’d have to cram the IP addresses of every website you want to visit, which is difficult to the point of being futile. But, thanks to the DNS system, all you need is a domain name that’s easy to remember.
NextDNS is one of many dedicated DNS resolution services out there that you can use in place of your ISP’s default provider. You may not be sure of the DNS provider your ISP uses, but you can be sure that NextDNS will most likely direct you to the correct IP address of every web request.
Have you ever encountered this problem? A specific domain name request isn’t resolving on your device but is working on other devices. It could be that your ISP’s DNS provider has the wrong or outdated IP address of that particular domain name and is directing you to it. In contrast, the NextDNS system has a large, frequently updated database of correct IP addresses corresponding to domain names, and, therefore, will most likely direct you to the right destination.
The NextDNS system is also powered by a network of over three-dozen servers scattered around the globe to ensure it responds to user queries as swiftly as possible. Hence, you can expect an improvement in your browsing speed when using NextDNS compared to your ISP’s default DNS provider.
Another great thing about NextDNS is that it helps you protect your device from hackers and other malicious actors. The platform maintains distinct lists of IP addresses known for malware, adware, phishing, unauthorized crypto-mining, and other shady internet operations. You can set your device to automatically reject requests to any IP address on these lists and prevent yourself from falling victim to such attacks.
NextDNS markets itself as a privacy-focused DNS resolver. In accordance with its ideals, the platform provides an option to erase any logs of your web queries as soon as they reach the server. This way, no one can fetch your web browsing history, guaranteeing your privacy from prying eyes.
On the other hand, users that want to keep logs of their web queries can do so. The platform supports log storage in three different jurisdictions; the United States (default), Switzerland, and the European Union. Privacy laws of whichever jurisdiction you pick apply to you even though you don’t reside there. For example, users who pick the EU are covered by the region’s GDPR laws regardless of their true location.
NextDNS: Interface and use
One of the noticeable drawbacks of NextDNS is that it can be pretty difficult to set up, mainly for non-technical users. You may not have a problem walking through the basic/initial setup, but the chances are higher when it comes to the more complex features. For example, setting up log controls can be confusing.
NextDNS has many features packed into a unified dashboard, so it’s understandable that a typical internet user many encounter difficulties. However, practice and experience will help you get familiar with the platform.
Free and Pro users have access to support from the NextDNS community, mainly through the official forum where users interact and provide solutions to each other’s problems. Subscribers to the Business and Education package have the better option of direct email support from the company.
NextDNS: The competition
NextDNS’s main competitors include OpenDNS (opens in new tab), Google Public DNS (opens in new tab), and SafeDNS (opens in new tab). The platform’s main competitive edge is its focus on user privacy, which is the primary consideration for a subset of internet users.
NextDNS: Final verdict
We’ll recommend NextDNS to anyone who wants a good DNS resolver, but mostly to privacy-conscious people. It provides excellent features for a very affordable price compared to the competition. However, you can still find free alternatives that provide similar features, e.g., Quad9 and Google Public DNS.
We also think NextDNS should improve its customer support options. It currently offers only email support, making it less desirable than competing products that offer live chat and telephone support.