Configure a DNS Server on Windows Server 2012 or 2012 R2 to use OpenDNS

First, make sure that your clients are pointing to your Windows DNS server. I know this sounds pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people miss this step. If you’re in an Active Directory (AD) environment, your clients really need to be pointing to DNS that is running on your Domain Controller (DC). If you only have one Domain Controller (DC), that’s the IP address you want to use; if you have more than one, use both. (Just don’t forget to make this change on all of your DNS servers!).

On your Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 server, bring up the Start Menu and click on Administrative Tools.

When the Administrative Tools open, double-click the DNS console icon.

This will open the DNS Manager. In the DNS Manager, double-click on Forwarders.

You should be taken to the Forwarders tab in the server’s Properties. Click the Edit… button.

This will open the Edit Forwarders dialog. Type in the IP addresses for OpenDNS: and208.67.220.220.

It should look something like this when you’re done. Click OK to close the dialog box.

After clicking OK, you’ll be taken back to the DNS server’s Properties. It should look something like the screenshot below.


By default, the Use root hints if no forwarders are available will be checked. This option is a double-edged sword: If you leave it checked, your DNS server may consult with the root hints servers to resolve a DNS entry and could bypass OpenDNS. If you don’t check it, you could have DNS timeouts that could result in DNS timeouts.

So, what option do you choose? Well, it really depends on how you’re using OpenDNS. If you’re using OpenDNS as a filter in a situation where the filter always has to work like a school, church, etc., uncheck the box. If it is more important that clients always get timely DNS responses, check the box.

When you’re done, click OK.

Now that you’ve updated your Forwarders. You’ll need to clear the DNS cache. Click the View menu and then Advanced. This will enable you to see the Cached Lookups section in the DNS console.

Right-click on Cached Lookups in the DNS Manager and choose Clear Cache.


You’re done! Remember, if you have more than one Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 DNS server, you’ll need to perform this change on each one. You’ll also need to run an ipconfig.exe /flushdns on your clients if you want this to start using OpenDNS immediately. Otherwise, you can wait and they’ll move over on their own as items in the DNS cache expire.


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