Speed Tip: Faster Web Surfing with Alternate DNS

August 17, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

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After reading this, I emailed my husband, who is in IT, at work, asking if we could do this, and this was his response. I’d love feedback and further thoughts:

We could, but the statement that an alternate DNS server makes your internet browsing faster is just not true.

I have used alternate DNS servers in the past for various reasons, but speed hardly ever is one. since every request for a DNS resolution is sent to that server, often the geogrphically closest DNS server is also the fastest, and thats the one located at the ISP. in our case, since we are with ATT, I would just assume they have adequately sized DNS servers.

So at the very least, you would want to check if any alternative DNS server is actually faster. And even if it is at some point in time, it’s not guaranteed that it stays faster. Also, this means that some other company potentially can log all your DNS resolution requests. Our ISP does that anyway, but unless there is a good reason, why give another company that possibility.

And finally, even if it DOES offer some perfomance increase, it would be a quite minor one.

So I really dont think its worth the trouble.

I have been using OpenDNS for years. Once in a while it alerts me that a site I tried to open has been marked as harmful (malware) I could proceed if I wished, but of course chose not to proceed.

Hi Bob,Your article mentioned that the dynamic DNS offered by dyndns.com was free, but that may no longer be true. I went to their web site, and found a few free trials, but their cheapest service appears to start at $20/year.

Bob – in my experience, using an alternate DNS server like Google Public DNS can speed up surfing noticeably. but when using these on a notebook computer away from home, I found that SOME public WiFi routers choke on anything but the default settings. Two months ago, I was surprised to find that the log-in screen at one particular Panera Bread wouldn’t come up on my computer, while no one else was having any problems. it took me a few minutes to realize that the only thing that I’d changed since the previous week I’d been there and logged-in fine, was the 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4 DNS settings. as soon as I changed back to the default ones, their log-in page appeared as usual and all was right with the universe.

I use OpenDNS. I started using it because my cable internet provider’s DNS servers were getting Denial of Service attacks which made it impossible to connect to anything on the web. The only thing I don’t like about OpenDNS is that if I mistype a domain name I get sent to a search page. I would rather get a server not found error so that I can find the typo and fix it rather than have to type in the whole thing again not knowing what the typo was.

The NortonDNS link in the article takes one to a site for Norton ConnectSafe, which lists different IP addresses for the Norton DNS than those in the article. Also, the Norton site recommends reconfiguring one’s router and offers a path for doing that, but nowhere (including the FAQ) did I find any info on how to undo the change if I don’t like the results. I’m reluctant to make a router change I’m not sure how to undo.

Norton offers a procedure for changing a Windows computer (rather than the router), but the procedure does not fit the screens that appear on Windows 7.

If you really want to understand DNS use Gibson Research’s DNS Benchmark tool. http://www.grc.com/dns/benchmark.htm

Download it. Seek the DNS server’s in your realm and then run the benchmark tool. use the top three to six servers, depending on your isp it may rank 1st and lower

Your internet connection is not compromised or anything else for that fact other than sped up.

A road warrior might find it necessary to update their DNS connections depending on where they are and who they use for internet service.

How long does it typically take an ISP’s DNS to do the translation? I would suppose one second or less. Even if the alternate DNS respondeds instantly, I save only the one second. if that’s all, it hardly seems worth it.

Great article but you only list 4 alternate DNS servers and don’t really explain which is “quickest”.

I’ve found a utility called namebench which supposedly “hunts down the fastest DNS servers available for your computer to use”. it takes about 5 minutes, checks (for my location) about 430 DNS servers and ends up giving you a web page with the 3 fastest DNS servers. http://code.google.com/p/namebench/

Am somewhat PC-challenged and don’t know whether changing the “DNS server addresses” on my PC or modem would suffice so I usually change both.

I agree with John, download and run the elegant and free software written by Steve Gibson and available here: http://www.grc.com/dns/benchmark.htm if you follow his comprehensive instructions and heed his caveats you will definitely improve your browsing experience.

OK. What’s the catch? I remember a few years back, OpenDNS being recommended as an alternative to prevent your ISP from tracking your online activity. yet OpenDNS would then have the same capacity to track. then as now, security-thru-obscurity was the protection. That is, unless directed by legal order, neither your ISP nor OpenDnS or other provider would have much interest in an individual’s websurfing activities. I imagine that to still be mostly true. Not so? but with Google getting into the Domain name Service business, I can’t help but suspect that data-hungry company of intending to harvest user profiles to feed their ever growing data consolidation. maybe the others (NortonDNS and AdvantageDNS) generate revenue via up-sale to their premium products. but I can’t help being suspicious that Google would be marketing the profiles they harvested, even if in some anonymized manner. any answer or Comment?

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