Speed Up Web Surfing with Alternate DNS
Can you speed up your web surfing by making a simple change to the settings on your computer or router? YES! Using an alternate DNS server, instead of the DNS provided by your internet service provider. I know it sounds geeky, but I promise to explain it all in plain English, and show you how to make it happen...
Should I Use an Alternate DNS Server?
Let's start by de-geekifying the DNS acronym. DNS stands for "Domain Name Service" and it's a service normally provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Here's why it's necessary... Humans refer to websites by their common "dot com" names, but the computers that run things on the Internet know them only by numbers known as IP (internet protocol) addresses. When you tell your browser you want to visit a certain website, it must connect to a DNS server to translate that website name into an IP address.
Normally, that DNS server is operated by your ISP, but there's no technical reason why that must be so. Alternate DNS services can be used to speed up web surfing, provide an additional layer of security, correct typos, or assign shortcuts to commonly-typed website names. Here are some free alternative DNS services you can try.
I've written previously about OpenDNS, the free Domain Name Service that looks up IP addresses and connects you to them faster than the DNS provided by many ISPs. There are other free alternative DNS providers for Web surfing and email, plus managed DNS services for Web site, corporate intranets, and others who need more than basic domain/IP address lookups.
Google Public DNS debuted in December, 2009. To use Google Public DNS, configure your router or TCP/IP Properties to use the nameservers located at IP addresses 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168. (Step-by-step instructions are available at the Google Public DNS site.) Google Public DNS isn't anything fancy; it just works.
Norton ConnectSafe is a free DNS service offered by Internet security software maker Symantec Corp., which owns the Norton Utilities brand. ConnectSafe focuses on content and security, rather than speed. You can choose one of three protection policies. Choice "A: Security" blocks malware, phishing sites and scam sites. Choice "B: Security + Pornography" blocks all of that plus adult content. Choice "C: Security + Pornography + Non-Family Friendly" adds blocking for content that you probably don't want younger children to access. In order to do this content filtering, all DNS lookup requests are checked against Symantec's huge database of known malware/adult sites. Of course, this comparison slows DNS lookup responses a bit, but it's a tradeoff. You'll find instructions on the site for changing your router, or the settings on a Windows or Mac computer.
DNS Advantage was founded in 2007. Its free, public nameserver IP addresses are 22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199. This free DNS service is provided by NeuStar, and uses the same DNS infrastructure as NeuStar's fee-based enhanced DNS service, UltraDNS.
NOTE: After changing your DNS servers, you should also flush your system's DNS and browser caches so that your new DNS settings will take immediate effect. This step is optional, but recommended.
So which one of these alternate DNS services is fastest? That depends partly on your geographic location, partly on your Internet service provider, and maybe the phase of the moon. A free program called NameBench will attempt to find the fastest DNS servers available for your computer. It takes about 5 minutes to run the analysis, and then it pops up a web page with the recommended fastest DNS servers. Another handy utility is Gibson Research's DNS Benchmark tool. You'll learn a lot about the DNS system at the Gibson site.
There's no harm in trying out one of these DNS services. Most likely, you'll see a boost in the speed of your web page loading. If you decide to go crawling back to your ISP for DNS service, you can simply change the DNS numbers back to what they were.
Dynamic DNS Services
If you're a home user and you're only interested in speeding up your web browsing with an alternate DNS service, you can skip the next two paragraphs, which explain "Dynamic DNS" services for webmasters.
Suppose you want to run a personal website, or set up a Minecraft server on a home computer which connects to the Internet through a typical consumer-oriented ISP. Or maybe you want to access your security camera or DVR remotely. Generally, you can't, because the IP address that the ISP assigns to your router changes every so often. Your ISP may give you a static IP address that never changes for a fee, but many don't offer static IP addresses at all. Dynamic DNS solves this problem.
The dynamic DNS offered by No-IP.com shows how dynamic DNS works. You provide a hostname, such as "mysite", and it's tacked onto a No-IP.org domain name, e.g., mysite.no-ip.org. That name is associated with a static IP address controlled by No-IP. Next, you download and run a little utility that configures your router so that each time the router gets a new IP address from your ISP, the router communicates the new IP address to No-IP. When someone types mysite.no-ip.org into their browser, the request goes to No-IP's static IP address. No-IP looks up your router's current IP address and routes the request to it. Best of all, No-IP.com is a free service.
Have you tried an alternative DNS service? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Aug 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Speed Up Web Surfing with Alternate DNS (Posted: 28 Aug 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved