As a Privacy Cookbook regular, you probably know I like to keep my life private, and with as few invasive trackers as possible. The easiest solution is DNS and we have reviewed many over the years and recommended some excellent solutions.
Starting with this first Privacy Cookbook entry of the new year, I have a really amazing solution, one which takes the simple solution DNS (without an app) to an entirely new level.
ControlD is a DNS solution which allows you to block services, domains, ads and trackers. Sound like NextDNS? Well, yes, many of the features on ControlD are very similar to NextDNS but it has something pretty much unseen on any of the other DNS solutions, which is what makes it such a very interesting solution.
With ControlD you can redirect your traffic to specific countries, basically, like a built-in VPN. Better still, you can not just redirect your traffic to a specific country, but you can do this per domain, or service.
As you can see on these screenshots, I redirected traffic from Netflix to the U.S. servers, and now get Netflix shows and movies that are streaming in the USA. ARD is only available in Germany, so this is where the server redirects. DAZN goes to Canada and Channel 4's home in the UK.
The list of countries is remarkable, and has you covered around the world. You can also use a specific country for all your usual surfing on the internet.
You can do the same with custom rules, blocking, allowing or redirecting domains, so that they think you're connecting from Antarctica.
With Filters, you can filter ads & trackers, malware, IoT Telemetry, clickbait, gambling, etc. and even newly registered domains
Services lets you block entire services, like Facebook, Amazon, Google and many more. You can also redirect Apple Music from here to another country, or switch your location from Steam etc.
You can also control times, which might be useful to control the time your kids can use specific services. With Profiles, you can just assign a profile to the iPad or phone of your kids.
The UI and control over your setup are simple and self-explanatory. In my test, the internet speed was extremely fast and outperformed most other DNS services I've tried.
The combination of watching services like the BBC i-Player outside the UK or Netflix in the U.S. without the need of an VPN is second to none.
The service is free for the first 30 days, after that time you can have one of two options. A 20 USD per year service which gives you the basics to block malware, services etc. And a 40 USD per year service, which includes the country specific redirections and the custom domain settings. The beauty is you can pay in crypto if you want anonymity.
"Since ControlD does not keep logs of which proxy server IPs were used by which user, nor do we even have access to this data, we have no way to trace any activity to any individual account."
We need, of course, to take the word of ControlD, but it is what you need to do with any other VPN or DNS providers.
For the setup, you do not need to install any software. For Android, all you have to do is enter the setup in the Private DNS settings of the phone.
Input the DNS-Over-TLS hostname into the field. If you're configuring our free DNS resolvers, you can use these hostnames:
- Unfiltered → p0.freedns.controld.com
- Block Malware → p1.freedns.controld.com
- Block Malware + Ads → p2.freedns.controld.com
- Block Malware + Ads + Social → p3.freedns.controld.com
These are the free standard servers, if you use the paid service you need to enter your customized DNS.
For macOS and iOS, all you need to do is install a customized profile from the website and your entire traffic will go over to the new DNS filter, including all the country redirections you choose.
Of course, there are Windows and Linux support and setup guides for Apple TV and other media boxes and Smart TVs.
Verdict, this is a winner and dead simple to use. If you want encrypted DNS, appearing from specific locations, for specific services or simply need internet without being tracked, ControlD is it!
The Privacy Advocate