Saturday, October 10, 2020

How To Host Your Own DNS-over-HTTPS And DNS-over-TLS Services

With Technitium DNS Server, you can not just consume DNS-over-HTTPS (DoH) or DNS-over-TLS (DoT) services using forwarders but you can also host these services yourself. There can be several reasons to host your own DoH or DoT service. You may wish to have better privacy by not sharing your data with public DNS providers. Or your network or ISP blocks popular DoT and DoH services and also interferes with unencrypted DNS traffic.

In this post, we will setup DoT and DoH services on a cloud server and configure a locally running Technitium DNS Server to use the DoH service as a forwarder bypassing any network restrictions that may be in place. 

Home Network

In the about home network diagram, the locally running Technitium DNS Server is installed on a desktop PC or a Raspberry Pi that is connected to your WiFi router. The Cloud Linux server will host the DoH service which will be configured as a forwarder in the locally running DNS server on your network.

Once the configuration is complete, all DNS traffic will be encrypted between your locally running DNS server and the DoH server running on the cloud server. This effectively means that all your local DNS traffic will exit from the cloud server and thus wont be visible to your network provider or your ISP.


You need a domain name which you can get from any domain name registrar like (referral link). If you already own a domain name then you can use a sub domain on it for hosting these services. A domain name is required since both these services run over TLS protocol which uses SSL/TLS certificate to work. A domain name will usually cost around $13/yr which depends on the extension. You can check for the pricing here.

You need a Linux server which you can get from any cloud hosting provider like Digital Ocean (referral link). You can get a server for as low as $5/mo with 1GB RAM. I would recommend to create a server with Ubuntu Server as the OS since this blog post will be using the same.


We will be using Ubuntu server in this blog post but you can choose any distro of your choice and follow similar instructions.

You can install Technitium DNS Server using the single line installation command as shown:

curl -sSL | sudo bash

If the above command fails since you do not have curl installed, install it as shown below and try the above command again:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install curl

You can also manually install the DNS server by following the install instructions.

We will be using Let's Encrypt TLS certificate and will be using certbot which does automatic certificate renewal for Let's Encrypt. Run the commands below to install certbot:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install certbot


To proceed with the DNS configuration, login to the DNS server web console using the server's IP address and port 5380. For example, if your server's IP address is '' open in your web browser. Chrome, Firefox and Edge web browsers are supported well.

The first configuration to be done is to enable Optional DNS Server Protocols i.e. DNS-over-HTTPS and DNS-over-TLS in the DNS server Settings as shown below. Save the settings by clicking Save Settings button at the bottom.

Optional DNS Server Protocols
Optional DNS Server Protocols

Note: If you wish to only run DoH service, enable only the DNS-over-HTTPS protocol in the settings.

Since, the DNS server requires the certificate in PKCS #12 (.pfx) format, we need to convert the issued certificate using the openssl command. To do that, we will create a small script file at /etc/letsencrypt/renewal-hooks/post/ using nano editor.

sudo mkdir -p /etc/letsencrypt/renewal-hooks/post/
sudo nano /etc/letsencrypt/renewal-hooks/post/

Copy the commands as show below in the nano editor. Here, replace '' with your domain name and 'mypassword' with a password of your choice or keep it blank to generate the pfx file with no password.

openssl pkcs12 -export -out /etc/letsencrypt/live/ -inkey /etc/letsencrypt/live/ -in /etc/letsencrypt/live/ -certfile /etc/letsencrypt/live/ -passout pass:mypassword
echo "pkcs#12 generated!"

Save the script by exiting the editor using CTRL+X keys. We need to make this script excutable by using the following command:

sudo chmod +x /etc/letsencrypt/renewal-hooks/post/

This script will be automatically executed by certbot after renewing the certificate.

We also need to create a root directory for the DoH web server so that it can be used with certbot as a web root:

sudo mkdir /etc/dns/dohwww

Now, we can run certbot command with the webroot plugin to issue the TLS certificate as shown below:

sudo certbot certonly --agree-tos --email --webroot -w /etc/dns/dohwww -d

Note: Here, replace '' with your domain name. In this example, we have used '' in which the sub domain 'dns' gives a good idea that you may be running a DoH service. You may wish to avoid this by not using sub domain names like dns, doh or dot and instead use something which is very common like "mail", or "blog", etc. This will make it difficult for someone on your network to identify if you are using a DoH service by looking at the domain name.

Once the certbot command succeeds, you will see the path of the certificate that was generated in the output which should be in the /etc/letsencrypt/live/<your-domain>/ directory.

Below is the output that you should see if the certbot command succeeds.

Saving debug log to /var/log/letsencrypt/letsencrypt.log
Plugins selected: Authenticator webroot, Installer None

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Would you be willing to share your email address with the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, a founding partner of the Let's Encrypt project and the non-profit
organization that develops Certbot? We'd like to send you email about our work
encrypting the web, EFF news, campaigns, and ways to support digital freedom.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(Y)es/(N)o: N
Obtaining a new certificate
Performing the following challenges:
http-01 challenge for
Using the webroot path /etc/dns/dohwww for all unmatched domains.
Waiting for verification...
Cleaning up challenges

 - Congratulations! Your certificate and chain have been saved at:
   Your key file has been saved at:
   Your cert will expire on 2021-01-08. To obtain a new or tweaked
   version of this certificate in the future, simply run certbot
   again. To non-interactively renew *all* of your certificates, run
   "certbot renew"
 - Your account credentials have been saved in your Certbot
   configuration directory at /etc/letsencrypt. You should make a
   secure backup of this folder now. This configuration directory will
   also contain certificates and private keys obtained by Certbot so
   making regular backups of this folder is ideal.
 - If you like Certbot, please consider supporting our work by:

   Donating to ISRG / Let's Encrypt:
   Donating to EFF:          

Since the certificate has been issued for the first time, we need to manually executed our script once to generate the pfx certificate.

sudo /etc/letsencrypt/renewal-hooks/post/

We can now configure the DNS server with the pfx certificate file path in the settings as shown below:

Optional DNS Server Protocols With TLS Certificate
Optional DNS Server Protocols With TLS Certificate

Type in the same password that you had used while generating the pkcs12 certificate for the TLS Certificate Password option.

Save the settings by clicking the Save Settings button at the bottom so that the DNS server can start the DoT and DoH services using the newly configured TLS certificate. You may want to check the DNS Server logs from the web console to find out if there were any errors while starting these services.

Testing The Service

For DoT service, you need to use the domain name that was used to generate the certificate with port 853. Thus your DoT configuration for clients will be tls-certificate-domain:853.

For DoH service, you need to use the domain name that was used to generate the certificate in a URL format. Thus you DoH configuration for clients will be https://tls-certificate-domain/dns-query.

You can test both the DoH and DoT services using the DNS Client tool. Put in the DoT tls-certificate-domain:853 or the DoH url https://tls-certificate-domain/dns-query as the Server in the DNS Client, type in a domain name, select an appropriate protocol either TLS or HTTPS and click Resolve to test both the services.

Note: By default, the "Allow Recursion Only For Private Networks" recursive resolver option (as shown below) in the DNS server settings is enabled and thus the DNS server will refuse to respond with an answer (RCODE=Refused) when you test it with the DNS Client. You will need to disable this option to be able to use these services from the public Internet.

Recursive Resolver Options
Recursive Resolver Options

Once the tests are successful, you can configure your locally running Technitium DNS Server to use these services as a forwarder. Once you have configured the service as a forwarder your local DNS traffic will bypassing all your network or ISP restrictions.

Technitium DNS Server Forwarder Configuration
Technitium DNS Server Forwarder Configuration

You can also configure your Firefox web browser directly with the custom DoH URL. This will work only for Firefox and all other applications on your computer will keep using the default DNS server configured in your network settings.

To configure Firefox with custom DoH, go to Options > General and scroll down to find Network Settings. Click on the Settings button and find the DoH option at the bottom as shown below:

Firefox Custom DoH Option
Firefox Custom DoH Option

Auto Renewing TLS Certificate

Since, the certificate obtained from Let's Encrypt expires in 90 days, certbot automatically configures a cron job that renews the certificates before they expire. Since we have already configured the script file earlier, it will get automatically executed by certbot when the certificate is renewed. The Technitium DNS Server will automatically reload the renewed certificate when it detects any changes for the pfx file by looking at its date modified attribute.

To test the certbot renewal process, we can try the dry run command. If there are no errors reported then it means the renewal was successful.

sudo certbot renew --dry-run

Running DoH With Another Web Server

You may have a requirement to run both the DNS server with DoH service and another web server for hosting websites. In such cases since both the DoH service and the web server would require to use ports 80 and 443, it would create a conflict.

A solution in such a scenario is to use the web server as a reverse proxy to the DoH service. You will need to configure the web server with TLS certificate and virtual hosting to reverse proxy to and enable only the DNS-over-HTTP optional DNS server protocol as shown below.

Optional DNS Server Protocols With TLS Certificate
Optional DNS Server Protocols With TLS Certificate

With this setup, your web server will terminate TLS and do reverse proxy allowing the DoH service through it. If your web server supports TLS termination for TCP streams then you can point it to and also provide DoT service through it.

If you are using nginx as your web server, you can use the snippet below to configure a reverse proxy for the DoH service. For more details, you can refer to the blog post on using nginx as a DoT or DoH gateway.

server {
    listen 80;

    return 301 https://$http_host$request_uri;

server {
    listen 443 ssl http2;

    ssl_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/;
    ssl_certificate_key /etc/letsencrypt/live/;
    ssl_trusted_certificate /etc/letsencrypt/live/;

    access_log /var/log/nginx/;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/;

    location / {
        proxy_http_version 1.1;
        proxy_set_header Upgrade $http_upgrade;
        proxy_set_header Host $http_host;

        proxy_set_header X-Real-IP $remote_addr;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-For $proxy_add_x_forwarded_for;
        proxy_set_header X-Forwarded-Proto $scheme;
        proxy_set_header X-Nginx-Proxy true;

        proxy_redirect off;


Using Technitium DNS Server combined with certbot, you can setup DoH and DoT services with automatic TLS certificate renewal and bypass any network restriction on DNS traffic. If you already have a web server like nginx running, you can use it for TLS termination and provide both DoH and DoT services on the same server.

If you have any queries do let me know in the comments below or send an email to


  1. Hi, Shreyas and thank you for your work.

    What about performance name resolution DoH and/or DoT in compared with traditional method (DNS over UDP (not encrypted))?

    1. Hi. Thanks for the question. There is an overhead due to encryption and due to TCP head of the line blocking. But, in practice its not much noticeable especially if you are running a local DNS server that is doing DoH and does caching.

    2. Hi, Shreyas.
      I understood. Thank you for your answer.

  2. Hey, good job there.
    I understood this step if used in linux system, but how we setup this on windows with already running webserver(apache) ??

    Can you help me?

    1. Thanks for the compliments. You can configure DoH similarly on Windows too. The DNS server configuration is exactly same with only difference of using different tool for certificate auto renewal.

      Just install the DNS server using the windows installer and configure it for DoH and DoT similar to the instructions in the blog post. You will need to install openssl on Windows separately to convert the SSL certificate into pfx format using the same command shown.

      On windows use tools like to do auto renewal of the certificate.

      If you already have apache web server running then you can configure apache with SSL certificate + auto renewal and then just reverse proxy to the DNS server on 8053 port. With this setup, all your SSL config is done with apache only and you just need to enable DNS-over-HTTP protocol on the DNS server.