DNS Speed Increases on CloudFlare Free DNS

So I have been trying to decrease the latency on one of my hobby websites and I noticed on Pingdom that there was a consistent 250 ms time slot on DNS. My website at the time after a lot of tweaking was loading at about 1 – 1.5 secods, so that 200ms was a pretty significant chunk of time to be just waiting. I did some investigation, but I really wasn’t motivated until I ran Pingdom on a competitors website, and his has a 25 ms time slot for the same bucket and I was FLOORED. Both our websites were running fairly comparably in total, but my DNS times were terrible.

Speed by DNS Host

These speeds aren’t super scientifically tested. I basically ran Pingdom a few times on a couple websites on each DNS provider, and waited for them to propagate and re-ran Pingdom. If the DNS loads were like in the single millisecond range, I assumed there was caching involved and ignored it. I also tested on GTmetrix a few times just to confirm that the results were consistent, and they were for me.

  • Digital Ocean : consistently 250ms across 5+ domains.
  • Google Domains Free DNS : 200ms (only tested on one domain, and since it wasn’t that much different I didn’t test any others)
  • Competitor’s DNS : It was a NameCheap NS (could be premium) 25ms
  • Downtown Host DNS: 158ms
  • Nearly Free Speech DNS : 140ms
  • CloudFlare : 34ms tested on several domains

These are huge performance savings for basically free, since you can change these setting within minutes and swap them back if the results are not good.

Side by side comparison of DNS lookup time with Digital Ocean, Google and Cloudflare on the same domain. A couple times it looked like Pingdom was caching and the DNS would be like 3ms, so I waited to retest for the cache to empty and provide a more realistic test.

Check your website and test the results

There really is no downside to testing a few DNS host providers. There are plenty out there that offer the service for free or really cheap. My results might not be the same as your results, but if you find anything helpful please do share in the comments.