A Domain Name System, or DNS, acts as a bridge between your device and the website you want to visit. Without it, you’d have to manually input the IP address of every site you want to visit instead of using a human-readable domain name.
Slow DNS servers can result in poor load times, and, in worst-case scenarios, if the DNS server happens to go down, accessing websites won’t be possible at all. This is why it’s crucial to choose a good DNS server.
In this guide, we’ll compare two of the bests DNS providers out there – Amazon Route 53 and Cloudflare. We’ll go through the pros and cons of each service so that you can make a more informed decision about which one better suits your needs.
Amazon Route 53
Amazon Route 53 prides itself on being “a highly available and scalable cloud Domain Name System (DNS) web service”. Not only does it route users to the different AWS services – such as Elastic Load Balancing and Amazon EC2 instances – but also, it can route users to non-AWS infrastructure.
Let us look at some of its key features in more detail below.
Amazon Route 53 – Pricing
Amazon Route 53 charges you for “what you use”, as they state on their website. In other words, you pay as you go, depending on the number of DNS queries answered by Amazon Route 53, with some exceptions, like queries for qualifying alias records, which don’t incur additional charges.
Basically, you don’t pay in advance or commit to anything, which can be an advantage depending on your needs.
Route 53’s price varies according to the type and quantity of queries.
|Up to the first billion per month
($ per million queries)
|After the first billion per month
($ per million queries)
|Geo DNS & Geo Proximity
With standard queries, for the first 1 billion queries a month, you are charged $0.40 per million queries. Once you have over 1 billion queries a month, the price is $0.20 per million queries.
With latency-based routing queries, the prices are slightly higher, starting with $0.60 per million queries for the first billion queries per month and $0.30 per million queries for over 1 billion queries per month.
Finally, with Geo DNS and Geo Proximity Queries, for the first 1 Billion queries a month, you are charged $0.70 per million queries. Again, the price decreases after you have over 1 billion queries monthly, at which point you incur charges of $0.35 per million queries.
Of course, the final price will depend on what kind of other Amazon Route 53 features you are using as well – such as health checks, Route 53 Resolver, etc. – and can quickly add up if you’re running a large-scale operation.
Amazon Route 53 – Reliability
One feature that makes Amazon Route 53 stand out is its high reliability. With this service, you have four DNS servers: .com, .net, .co.uk, and .org. This means that if the root server goes down for some reason, you still have three DNS servers operating smoothly.
Moreover, since the four DNS servers are geographically distributed, even if some kind of accident were to happen to one of the data centers, the other DNS servers would still be up and running. Finally, all four servers are on different Anycast IPs, which ensures high reliability but comes at the expense of performance.
Amazon Route 53 – Speed
Route 53’s query speed is one of its main shortcomings. Amazon’s DNS service is actually better than many of its competitors but still stays far behind Cloudflare’s DNS.
It doesn’t matter which of their four DNS servers are closest, you have the same chance to hit this one or any of the others. This is the price that’s paid for Route 53’s increased reliability.
Amazon Route 53 – Privacy
With Route 53, you have privacy protection for contact information on a domain enabled by default. It hides most of your contact information, preventing spam, and blocking anyone who would otherwise be able to see your personal information by sending a WHOIS query.
However, Amazon doesn’t issue a guarantee that they won’t use your information themselves, for company or data purposes. This will be a big red flag for many of you.
Amazon Route 53 – Flexibility
Amazon Route 53 is very flexible. Thanks to the Amazon Route 53 Traffic Flow, traffic is routed according to several criteria such as geographic location, endpoint health, and latency.
Various traffic policies can be configured, after which you can choose which ones should be active at a certain time. The simple visual editor also enables you to create and edit traffic policies easily. What’s more, you have a history of changes to your traffic policies with Traffic Flow’s versioning feature. This way, you are free to roll back to a previous version if needed.
Primarily popular for its high-quality content delivery network, Cloudflare also features a DNS service called 18.104.22.168. They describe their DNS as the “Internet’s fastest, privacy-first consumer DNS service”.
Below we’ll examine some key features of this DNS service.
Cloudflare DNS – Pricing
22.214.171.124 is free of charge for ordinary users. However, if you are a developer or an enterprise with a professional website, you might want to make use of the Geo DNS feature, i.e. the Cloudflare Load Balancing feature. This means that you have to sign up for a monthly subscription.
The prices vary per server (origin), where a server can be an IP address or CNAME:
- $15/month for 2 origins (servers),
- $25/month for 4 origins (servers)
- $30/month for 5/6 origins (servers)
In contrast to Amazon Route 53 where you pay as you go, the downside of Cloudflare DNS is that you have to sign up for a monthly subscription if you are running one or several websites.
Cloudflare DNS – Reliability
Compared to Amazon’s Route 53, Cloudflare’s infrastructure is less reliable.
In case your server goes down, Cloudflare DNS will keep redirecting users to it anyway. Unlike Route 53, it won’t redirect them to a different, functioning server while the issue is being solved.
Cloudflare DNS – Speed
DNSPerf, the independent DNS monitor, ranks 126.96.36.199 as the fastest DNS service worldwide. Ranking way lower on the same list, Amazon’s Route 53 pales in comparison speed-wise.
Cloudflare DNS – Privacy
Privacy is another advantage for Cloudflare DNS. Not only does the company promise that it will never use your browsing data to sell it or to target ads, but it also guarantees that it won’t log your IP address. If there are any potential logs, they are deleted within a period of 24 hours.
And they mean it: they even claim they retained a big four accounting company to audit their practices on an annual basis.
You can read more about their motivations regarding privacy here.
Cloudflare DNS – Flexibility
Cloudflare DNS is significantly less flexible compared to Route 53. It just doesn’t hold up against the dozens of servers with geolocation-based routing that Amazon boasts.
Unfortunately, configurability and flexibility are some of the tradeoffs that come with the top-notch speed of Cloudflare DNS.
Conclusion – Cloudflare or Route 53?
So which one is better for you, Amazon Route 53 or Cloudflare’s 188.8.131.52 DNS?
In terms of performance, Cloudflare has the upper hand with its incredible speed of 12.52ms. Their commitment to privacy concerns is also a big plus. However, if you’re an avid AWS user – Route 53 might make more sense because you can run health checks against load balancers and easily use geo-routing for specific resources in your Amazon Web Services account.
All in all, it’s safe to say that both of these are solid premium DNS providers – and you’ll be very happy with your choice either way.
We at RunCloud use & highly recommend Cloudflare. Which is why with RunCloud’s built-in Cloudflare DNS integration – you can also enjoy its benefits. Deploying websites and managing servers for your web applications has never been easier. It’s one of the many reasons RunCloud is the server management solution trusted by industry-leading system administrators, yet accessible to everyone. Start your 5-day free trial today.
Which DNS provider do you use & recommend? Let us know & join the conversation by leaving a comment below. 💬