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NextDNS vs Competition? Who's pulling ahead?

I've been with NextDNS since the beginning, including Beta testing, and I've always been excited to see what they do next. And this isn't a diss post about NextDNS, but it seems their competition is ramping up as more and more 'Pi-hole'-like services are popping up with a lot of bells and whistles.

I'm more focused on functionality over flash, but at the same time it seems like NextDNS is slow to implement on certain competitive features such as Geo-blocking or even things like adding more (active) block lists or even a dark theme.

I guess I'm more curious from a consumer standpoint, what's cooking up at NextDNS, and what are other people's thoughts if they've tried the other services out there as they compare to NextDNS?

24 replies

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    • Calvin_Hobbes
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    There are so many simple features that could be added (just look at the feature requests), but haven’t been.    I’m still hanging with NextDNS because the speed and reliability are top notch.   I’ll be quick to reconsider if a competitor can offer a similar service with a few simple updates to improve usability.    Like temporary disable and ability to add entries to block/allow lists from the logs.  NX Enhanced is nice, but can’t work on iOS   

    • Hey
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    I've tried basically every other DNS service, all the services that offer control over your DNS or general services that have filtering things that are freely avaliable without limits.

    I'm nearly always praising them but, NextDNS is different from everyone else because it's the simplest. It's the Apple of DNS services, they don't add all the new things quickly but when they do add a function like AI, DDNS Hosts and the new Allow Affiliate Tracking option with Proxying.

    Everything just works. I've been here from the initial stages as well, at the time I was searching for a DNS service to block ads but some would break sites, Anti-Adblock measures would annoy me and I was generally frustrated at not finding a perfect service.

    I have a family where I got a dad that uses a bit of online services for work, a sister in Uni and another sister that's young with my mom using social media and visiting random sites.

    I basically have the whole spectrum on the profile. I setup OISD with all the other security features turned on, they don't complain about a single issue, we don't get any downtime or issues.

    All the new functionality that are added also are simple turn on/off options, and are nearly always extremely polished, the AI alone is as good as the Enterprise Level competition.

    I do see the appeal of new changes but from my Android Rom experience, it's fun to have new things and it's great to have a ton of options, but I always went back to Stock or Lineage OS. Reason being everything was perfect and I didn't do anything, I could forget that I was on a different Software.

    That's why I'd say NextDNS is still the best. 

    They have a far better DNS Infrastructure than the competition, they might not offer as many features but the level of Threat Defense is on-par with Enterprise grade services so there isn't much competition coming from NextDNS like services in terms of raw security,

    I've personally done a lot of testing as well as  others, tests that include lists of known malicious domains and going onto fishy "Free" sites for content, games and more that rely on Phishing and Malicious Advertising to stay afloat as real world basis of how someone can be infected.

    Other services are still great don't get me wrong, it's just they either cost more or generally have unappealing parts that for me and I don't want to deal with that.

    I want to turn something on and it should be so good that I don't notice its presence, it should do the job without annoying or bothering me it should simply work.

    Adguard DNS has limits for Devices/Queries and comes with their full fledged Adblocker app, I find both of those annoying especially the bundling part, it's like why make your already existing customer annoyed by trials and expiration dates with locking down functionality in your apps when they are already paying it doesn't impact the DNS service but it's still in your face telling you hey buy this as well for their full fledged Adblocker.  I really dislike that sort of behavior since the user is already paying.

    ControlD has cool functions yeah but until a few months ago you had to manually remove the IPs one by one when it filled to 100 IPs and from what I know, you still have to maintain the IPs but you have the ability to delete more than one at a time, still extremely annoying but hey, at least not one by one. This might not impact Static IP users but with Carriers and Dynamic IPs from ISP's its not too fun.

    They both lack the level of security NextDNS gives and the server sizes to ensure smooth sailing. The larger the network, the smoother the service as it can handle more requests and random surges in users that tend to take down most DNS services, the Facebook issue is a good example.

     

    So to finish everything off, yeah NextDNS hasn't gotten killer changes or a new special sauce that's going to change everything. But it does one thing right, ensuring that the user doesn't have any issues and having everything simply work, that's why I switched to NextDNS in the first place, to run away from the annoyances of maintaining every device in the family with Adguard/Blockada, a person shouldn't need to deal with any configuring or problems, with NextDNS for basically anyone, I'd say turn on OISD and every Security toggles with Allow Affiliate tracking and they'd have an amazing time removing most of the annoyances online without ever needing to go and change anything again.

      • Coral_River
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Hey Recently I had a look at ControlD and I have learned that they implement a lot of new features and have ambitious plans:
      No limits, 3rd Party Filters (including OISD), disable button, and more
      https://blog.controld.com/no-limits-3rd-party-filters-and-more/
      What's coming up?
      - More Locations, Less Latency
      - "AI" Based Malware Filtering (sometime in the Fall of 2022)

      The issue with IPs was solved by auto delete feature:
      https://feedback.controld.com/posts/870/100-ips-limit
      https://feedback.controld.com/posts/891/ips-auto-delete

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      servilo That auto IP delete must be new, I had seen multiple people complaining about manually deleting it at the time and people were sharing scripts that would bulk delete the IPs. Nice to see that since that was the most problematic issue they had. I did know about third part filters since after some time with their own they didn't want to go through as most people wanted OISD or other filters. Disable button wouldn't exactly work but I guess a remote toggle to quickly whitelist the domain for lets say 5 minutes could work. So the users with the CA Cert could press a button to temporarily whitelist a domain. I don't think it would be too useful as when you properly configure a DNS you shouldn't need to do that in the first place but I get the appeal.

      • Wolf
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Hey Do you have a list of all the other DNS service's? 

      • Pierre_Cartier
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Lone Wolf Any search engine will do the trick 😉

    • Coral_River
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    1) The below discussion can be of interest for you:
    CleanBrowsing dns vs Nextdns vs ControlD dns
    https://malwaretips.com/threads/cleanbrowsing-dns-vs-nextdns-vs-controld-dns.112969/

    2) NextDNS can learn a lot from competitors how to communicate with clients. 
    a) ControlD has an excellent blog. They inform clients about new features and plans:
    https://blog.controld.com/
    b) ControlD and DNSFilter manage their forums much better than NextDNS. Employees from both companies are very often involved in conversations and requested features get statuses:
    https://feedback.controld.com/
    - available statuses: Planned, Started, Completed, Declined.
    https://feedback.dnsfilter.com/
    - available statuses: Under Review, In Progress, Complete

    Nice blog and better managed forum can compensate to some extent for the lack of customer service.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      servilo NextDNS forums is lacking when it comes to responses. They can do better with letting users know of fixes and generally reply more to inform they hear the users as it's just nice to see responses.

      They should also really do the basic changes that people want with Dark Mode and block/allow through logs etc as it wouldn't be a huge change and get a lot of people to be far happier.

      Other than that though, I'm still on with my statement as NextDNS being the best service in terms of for a general user, it lacks in some aspects but since the service is as simple as a DNS, once setup most users wouldn't even have a single issue.

      The forums and issues here are present but on a larger scale with all the users, basically 99.9x aren't having any issues in the first place.

      I'll read up on the first link since comparisons always get my interest.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      servilo I've read the discussion not the whole since I'm somewhat lazy and it's 5am but I've read most of the pages.

      For Quad9 I completely agree that it's one of the best services for blocking malicious domains, it's as others have said consistently amazing in blocking Malicious Domains.

      ControlD at some point had horrible updated to Threat Intelligence where they had on par scores to NextDNS/Quad9 but lost everything with new domains but I've heard they fixed that. So if they still use the same feeds and update more often it should be pretty good with known threats.

      For NextDNS as it's the service I use, I absolutely don't think that the Threat Intelligence Feeds on GitHub are all they are using.

      With the recent test I did mostly to see if I was wrong with CleanBrowsing, Threat Intelligence caught most of the domains as well as AI, I've used the said "Free" sites before and know they change domains up every week or even more often to every few days, so the feeds are definitely not outdated or old.

      They most likely don't list private feeds on their GitHub page as they don't have AI etc on their GitHub either.

      I'd also say that if you got time, I can dm you a few links or you can just type in X show/movie full or like x season x episode / x game free on Google and you should check what gets blocked, verify through VirusTotal and compare the services, that's in my opinion the best way to go as it's the most likely source of infection in a household where someone wants x for free and gets Malicious Ads/Pages.

      The above test would apply better for an end user and more likely than show the lack of layers in most services. These domains are barely caught by a few known AV providers and aren't listed on any major Malicious/Phishing lists so it shows how Intelligent the Threat Intelligence really is.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      As a disclaimer, I don't condone piracy, most of the sites are filled with malicious domains, popups and general bad intent, as they aren't legal services, their sponsors/funding doesn't exactly come from legal methods and that usually involves Phishing and Malicious domains.

      It's simply a good way of getting unknown threats to test services, even then I'd say be advised and don't do it if you don't know what you're doing.

      • Coral_River
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Hey I like to read about tests but I don't have skills to verify tham.
      I've been using NextDNS for more than a year but I think that Quad9 (set and forget) is the best service for me. Maybe next year I will also try ControlD for a few months but eventually Quad9 will win. I try different services because by using them I learn a lot.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      servilo It's not hard at all to verify the domains that I've talked about, they are clear re-directors or domains that try to get you to sing-up / download things with malicious intent. You can also go through VirusTotal to ensure that in fact they have been tagged so by people in the security industry.

      I do agree with Quad9 being the choice if you don't care about anything else other than malicious domains.

      Like I've said though, NextDNS is on-par and at times better than Quad9 while giving you control over what you're blocking or not with NRD/DDNS Hostname Blocking that from my knowledge Quad9 doesn't use. These are all additional layers that do increase a users security with with little to no impact in general browsing for the average user visiting know sites but that services without control like Quad9 can't logically deploy as a Business might deploy and use a new domain or a DDNS domain that they can't unblock.

      Both are set-up and forget if you ask me as long as you don't want to mess with your config daily. For the average user who wants privacy and control with all the security benefits, NextDNS and for the users who just want Privacy and Security and don't mind not blocking ads/analytics.

      They are interchangeable and would more or less perform the same in a realistic attack vector standpoint if you ask me.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      To add to this, by purely blocking Ads/Re-directors and generally iffy domains, you could dramatically reduce your attack vector.

      Most of the tests are done through known malicious domains that are detectable to an extent since they have clear intentions to infect your system or pish you out of your money.

      There is also the middle ground of Ad-ware and questionable sites that are far more likely to be visited by the average user.

      Ads that are deceptive and used to prey on emotions, feelings or insecurities to basically steal from people through fake Charities, Fake Medications and methods of Making Money / Self Help / Mentoring or similar fishy businesses. That's without counting all the deceptive PC speedup or fake services that steal info from basic email to card details.

      So blocking ads on top of direct malicious threats is a better approach for most people as the likelihood of them falling for a malicious ad that slipped away or a problematic website that isn't directly malware but is questionable is far more likely compared to getting targeted malware.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      I also don't want to undermine the tests done with threats from list/domain providers. It's as important since if that domain exists and is known, someone somewhere is going to fall for it.

      I just wanted to add a different point of view since in fact Quad9 is really good but you also need to account for their compatibility and how a major DNS is not going to realistically block something even if a tiny percent cares as the user can't modify or change any actions from the DNS.

      With pure numbers Quad9 and NextDNS are interchangeable from what I've seen myself with NextDNS edging it out on some cases, but it's not just customizability that you get, you also get functions that wouldn't work for everyone and a completely different method of blocking threats.

      • Coral_River
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Hey Cybersecurity is not only about DNS service:
      - I don't visit high risk websites,
      - I use Brave Browser, which is very good at blocking ads,
      - I have a good Internet Security suite,
      - I use the Bitdefender TrafficLight extension.
      In this situation the choice of DNS service is not so important. Both Quad9 and NextDNS will do.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      servilo I've never said not believe that DNS is the only layer of defense needed, we were talking about DNS services and that's why I pointed out NRD/DDNS.

      Also, I've tested Bitdefenders Traffic Light just a few days ago and it's lacking in many ways, it doesn't block some domains that has been on Urlhaus for hours your choice to use it but wanted to let you know.

      • Coral_River
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Hey There is no product which gives 100% protection but all defensive layers, which I use give very good protection (but also not 100%).

      • Sohan_Ray
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Hey Control D has definitely improved. They also now update all their feeds hourly (which wasn't so before). They have their in-house blocklists in place too. 

      NextDNS does use Private feeds which aren't disclosed publicly. One of its founders answered this question of mine in Github once.

      One major thing that people might have missed, (even I did until  recently) is that NextDNS doesn't just use blocklists/threat intelligence feeds, but also uses advanced hueristics to detect/catch malicious domains. And 'AI' feature isn't the only one that does that.

      Visit ->https://www.dns0.eu/zero

      Another free public DNS service  launched by Nextdns founders. You will find most of the NextDNS security features mentioned under 'Heuristics'. And the top description saying that the DNS uses human-vetted threat intelligence with advanced heuristics that automatically identify high-risk patterns.

      Control D only uses blocklists, and most other DNS services also do that only.

    • iOS Developer
    • Rob
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    Are these competitors larger than NextDNS (team size)?

    I like NextDNS, but I keep having this fear that they are too small to stay around.

    This might be totally wrong, but it is the image they present me by the way they (don’t) communicate.

      • Hey
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      NextDNS LinkedIn

      https://id.linkedin.com/company/nextdns

      Adguard LinkedIn

      https://cy.linkedin.com/company/adguard

      https://ca.linkedin.com/company/controld-inc

       

      This doesn't precisely show everyone that's working but for NextDNS, it's not bad, 6 people listed on LinkedIn vs 2 on ControlD and 25 on Adguard.

      Adguards team is larger since they have extensions, full fledged Adblockers VPN DNS etc as well as filter maintainers so that's the entire team not just DNS.

      As a disclosure, this doesn't mean it's the entire team, just something we can gather with a quick search to give context through LinkedIn connections.

      • Coral_River
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Rob 

      NextDNS: <25 Employees ; Revenue: <$5 Million

      https://www.zoominfo.com/c/nextdns-inc/482552930

      By using zoominfo.com you can also check other DNS providers from the US.

       

      NextDNS is very good at protecting his own privacy ;-)

    • Wolf
    • 1 yr ago
    • Reported - view

    For those of you that use Quad 9, how do you block ads on your mobile device? 

      • Martheen
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Lone Wolf You can use AdGuard/RethinkDNS app and set the upstream to Quad9, local filtering will use any blocklist you want.

      • Wolf
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Martheen I like RethinkDNS, but the amount of lists is crazy! How many are recommended? And which ones are the best?

Content aside

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