Tag Archives: dns

OpenDNS and other DNS options

OpenDNS

David Pogue explains DNS and why OpenDNS is a great service in this video.

OpenDNS is generally fast, has extra features like anti-phishing, shortcuts, and parental controls, and is run by non-evil people (perhaps unlike your ISP).

Other Options

But you should also check to see what DNS provider gives your particular location the fastest DNS response as we explained in the post Make your Internet faster by changing DNS.

We explained that you can use namebench to test a variety of DNS providers. I recommend running namebench multiple times since results will vary between tests. For me, Verizon’s DNS service actually provided the fastest and most consistent DNS speeds so I’m sticking with them for now for the quickest web browsing experience.

Profit Model

One way to see who is running the DNS on a particular network is to type in a long web address that doesn’t exist. Most DNS providers “hijack” the 404 Not Found response and give you something like the response below from Verizon. It’s annoying that this is a standard practice now, but your ISP and other DNS providers get extra income from search engines for directing people there.

Use Google Email with your Domain

Google email works with name@gmail.com, but you could also use name@yourcompany.com. To do this, you sign up for Google Apps, which is offered in Standard (Free) and Premier Editions. Go to: http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/group/

There are a couple of ways to do this:

The simplest is to choose “I want to buy a domain” which allows you to buy a domain through Google (which actually uses GoDaddy as the registrar and costs $10/month), which provides you a domain pre-configured to use Google services.

The other method is to use your existing domain or purchase from domain registrar service and assign the MX records to Google. Your DNS Manager or Domain Manager page from your registrar would then look like this:

The second method requires that you also verify that you own the domain by updating the cname record or uploading a file to the domain.

After pointing your MX records to Google, you can get your email by going to:

https://mail.google.com/a/yourdomainname.com
..where yourdomainname.com is actually your domain name.

Because that’s a long address, I typically set up a URL pointer so that mail.yourdomainname.com will point to the above address. This is also handled in the DNS management page at your domain registrar. The URL pointing would look like this:If your registrar’s DNS management system does not allow such a redirect, then you can set up a redirect from your website, for example from yourdomainname.com/mail/.

Make your Internet faster by changing DNS

namebenchWhen you go to any website, the browser first has to lookup where that site is located.  This is done by connecting to a domain name server (DNS).  There are many DNS options, not just the default of the ISP. Often other options are much faster.  Most websites actually load content from various domains at once so each DNS request adds up in how fast your internet experience feels.

A great open-source DNS benchmark utility is namebench.  It will test your current DNS against other global DNS or nearby providers.  Versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux are available for download.

A recent customer had OpenDNS setup but it turned out the nearby AT&T DNS was 142% faster.  Most people probably won’t get quite that huge of a gain.  Depending on your location and ISP, its hard to predict what your best DNS option is which is why the namebench utility is so valuable.

Once you’ve figured out your best DNS options, it is best to setup the DNS in your router through its administration page.  You could change the DNS in your computer’s network settings, but then none of the other computers on the network would see that gain in internet performance.