How to change your DNS and (maybe) get the internet back

Is Twitter down? Maybe it's actually still there -- get it back with this one quick trick.

Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Sometimes, when your favorite websites go "down," they're actually still right there. You just can't see them, because your computer doesn't know how to get there.

What if you could give your PC some better driving directions right now, in just a minute or two tops?

To do that, you just need to change your DNS server.

What's a DNS server?

"CNET.com" is just the street address of this website. To figure out the "driving directions," if you will, your computer contacts a special server (called DNS, for Domain Name System) to figure out the route. It tells your web browser that "CNET.com" actually means "203.36.226.2". That number, known as an IP address, is a far better description of where CNET actually lives.

But if your DNS server goes down, you might have some trouble. Switch to another public DNS server to resolve those issues.

How to change your DNS in Windows.

Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

How do I change my DNS on Windows?

  • Hit Start and type Network and Sharing Center (or right-click on your Wi-Fi icon and click it there).
  • Click on Change Adapter Settings (on the left).
  • Right-click on your active network connection, then hit Properties.
  • Left-click on Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and hit Properties. (If you use IPv6, change that one also/instead.)
  • Click on "Use the following DNS server addresses:" and type in one of the following public DNS server addresses:

208.67.220.220 or 208.67.222.222 = OpenDNS

8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4 = GoogleDNS

84.200.69.80 or 84.200.70.40 = DNS.Watch

64.6.64.6 or 64.6.65.6 = VeriSign Public DNS

Note that you may need to try more than one to get your sites working. OpenDNS helped us around this recent Twitter and Netflix outage, but GoogleDNS didn't.

How do I change DNS on Mac?

  1. System Preferences
  2. Network
  3. Click the DNS tab
  4. Click the little + sign at the lower left to add a new DNS server
  5. Type in the numbers of a public DNS server (see four suggestions in the Windows section above)
  6. Click OK
  7. Click Apply

How to change your DNS on a recent Mac OS X machine.

Screenshot by Patrick Holland/CNET
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