Quad9 DNS review

You can adopt Quad9 to protect yourself from malware and phishing

Website screenshot for Quad9.
(Image: © Quad9)

TechRadar Verdict

Quad9 is a great tool to ensure your internet queries get accurate responses and prevent yourself from falling victim to malicious sites.

Pros

  • +

    Free to use

  • +

    Enhances web security

  • +

    Easy to setup

Cons

  • -

    Lacks manual filtering

  • -

    Slower than competing services

Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

Quad9 (opens in new tab) is administered by the Quad9 Foundation, an independent non-profit formed by an alliance of International Business Machines (IBM), Packet Clearing House (PCH), and Global Cyber Alliance (GCA). IBM is probably the name you recognize there, as it’s a popular IT services company.

The Quad9 Foundation maintains its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. It's subject to Swiss privacy law, which the government extends to all users across the globe notwithstanding their citizenship or country of residence. 

Because its administrator is based in Switzerland, Quad9 is one of the few DNS services (opens in new tab) not subject to United States law, which permits wiretapping in specific cases.

Quad9: Plans and pricing

One of the advantages of using Quad9 is that it’s free. The funds for its maintenance come from the three main organizations sponsoring the Quad9 foundation alongside other donors. Hence, have some assurance that the company will likely not place profits above the benefits of its users, given it’s a lean and well-funded organization.    

Quad9 1

(Image credit: Quad9)

Quad9: Features

Bad actors often hack the DNS resolver of an internet service provider (ISP) to redirect user requests to malicious sites with the aim of installing malware on devices, displaying advertisements, or stealing data. The primary purpose of using Quad9 is to prevent yourself from falling victim to such attacks. 

To the uninitiated, DNS refers to the domain name system, the hierarchical and decentralized naming system that powers the web. It is the phonebook of the internet that maps domain names to IP addresses. In simpler terms, it’s what translates human-readable domain names (e.g., FaceBook.com) into machine-readable IP addresses (e.g., 66.220.144.0).

If hackers compromise the default DNS resolver of your internet provider, a request to visit FaceBook.com on your web browser can route to the wrong IP address the hackers have indicated. That wrong IP address may be that of a web page filled with bizarre or scammy advertisements. It may even be a web page very similar to the original FaceBook to trick users into giving up their account credentials.

You may not know the DNS resolver your ISP uses and how vulnerable it is to malicious attacks. But, you can be sure of Quad9’s security, which makes using it advisable. You can configure your device to use Quad9’s DNS resolver in a few steps, but these steps differ depending on the type of device you’re using.

With these three steps, you have successfully configured your Windows-powered device to use Quad9. Notice the preferred DNS server address of 9.9.9.9., which is the inspiration behind the name Quad9. 

The setup process on a macOS-powered device (MacBook laptop or iMac PC) is even simpler than on Windows. 

Now, with Quad9 as your DNS resolver, you’re set to enjoy the benefits of the platform. Its DNS database is very accurate, so be sure that the domain names you decide to visit on your web browser will redirect to the correct IP addresses. 

As for external threats from hackers, Quad9 uses a sophisticated blocking system. It integrates both commercial and publicly available threat intelligence software to identify exploits, malware, ransomware, spyware, and other potentially harmful sites. It then blocks the IP address of any such site, so your device can’t access them.

With over 20 threat intelligence sources, be sure that Quad9 will block the majority of malicious websites. The platform claims to block over 100 million such sites daily, giving it more experience than most DNS providers. 

To emphasize, using Quad9 is free. Taking advantage of the web protection it offers at no cost is recommended for every active internet user. 

Quad9 2

(Image credit: Quad9)

Quad9: Interface and use

Setting up Quad9 is as easy as following the steps we listed. During our test, we didn’t face any hiccups configuring it on a Windows PC. If ease of use was the only criterion for this review, we’ll give Quad9 a full rating of 5. 

Quad9: Support

There’s no direct customer support for Quad9 users. However, there are detailed guides to walk users through setting up and managing the DNS resolver on their devices. There’s also a useful frequently asked questions (FAQ) page on the official website, and you can also search to see if a hostname or domain name is blocked by Quad9.     

Quad9: The competition

Popular alternatives to Quad9 include Cloudflare DNS, OpenDNS, and Google Public DNS. Quad9 is a great choice because of its sophisticated security, which we think is only matched by Google’s Public DNS.  

Quad9: Final verdict

In all, Quad9 is a very secure DNS resolver, and adopting it will go a long way in protecting you from malicious websites. It’s free and very easy to configure, two factors that constitute the platform’s main advantages. One slight drawback we noticed is that it lacks manual filtering configurations, meaning you can’t block IP addresses of your own accord.  

Stefan Ionescu

Stefan has always been a lover of tech. He graduated with an MSc in geological engineering but soon discovered he had a knack for writing instead. So he decided to combine his newfound and life-long passions to become a technology writer. As a freelance content writer, Stefan can break down complex technological topics, making them easily digestible for the lay audience.