Rishi Goomar

Setting up a Personal VPN with Tailscale & NextDNS

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Having a personal VPN is something that is nice to have especially if you’re using any sort of public Wi-Fi or wanting privacy around your network setup. After using NextDNS for over a year, I wanted to take it a step further and use Tailscale as my mesh VPN along with it. That allows me to have my own private roaming network while blocking ads and domains that encroach on my privacy.

As of writing this, I was able to get them working in-tandem with an unstable version of the Tailscale client due to this issue. Once this issue is resolved, it should be available for use with the stable versions of the Tailscale clients.

What they do

NextDNS - Privacy-focused DNS provider that can help keep you safe from malicious requests ($19.90 per year)

Tailscale - Lightweight wireguard-based mesh VPN (free for personal use)

Setting it up

Estimated time required: 15 minutes

  1. Sign up for Tailscale (i.e. Google login or whatever you prefer)

  2. Download the unstable client (need at least v1.31.39 or higher)

  3. Login with the credentials you used to sign up once installed

  4. After that, you should be up and running on your computer. Tailscale setup is pretty simple.

  5. Sign up for NextDNS

  6. Go to the NextDNS Dashboard

  7. Click on the “Router” under the “Setup Guide”. Keep this open in a separate tab because you will need those two IPv6 values

  8. Go to the Tailscale DNS Settings

  9. Click “Add Nameserver” then “Custom”

    tailscale custom ns

  10. Paste in the any of the two IPv6 IPs from the NextDNS Router Setup Guide

  11. Turn on “Override local DNS”. This will make sure that NextDNS is used instead of the default DNS from Tailscale

    tailscale override

  12. You’re ready to go! You now have a VPN with a privacy-focused DNS backing it.

Final Thoughts

After getting this setup, I was curious about the performance and I basically see no difference in my day-to-day browsing and usages. One thing that surprised me was the fact that my ping latency in League of Legends did not change. It remained steady at around 12ms in the test game with or without the VPN on.

The setup is very simple and straightforward. It took about 15 minutes total to get up and running!

I recommend this setup for anyone that wants a simple and safe mesh VPN for personal use.