The Corpus Callosum

Tech Tip #8

This is a tip for selecting the fastest DNS server.   href="http://www.opendns.com/">OpenDNS already has
fans at ScienceBlogs ( href="http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/08/turkish_ass_shuts_down_a_slice.php">1
href="http://scienceblogs.com/effectmeasure/2007/08/connectile_dysfunction.php">2).
 I’ve been using it for years.  But now that href="http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/">Google has
their own free/open DNS service, the question arises: which
is better?  Or is there a different one that is better?
 OpenDNS is free for anyone to use, but they also offer paid
services to enterprises.  Those enterprises have special
needs, which most of you would not want.  Google is, well,
Google.  

The tip is this: you can download an application which will test
various open dns servers, and tell you which is fastest, on average,
for your particular setup.  As it happens, the program is
hosted/sponsored by Google, so you might wonder if it is does a fair
test.  Go head and wonder.  If you have a way to find
out for yourself, then you don’t need the application.

Anyway, you can get the app here: href="http://code.google.com/p/namebench/">namebench.
 There are versions for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux/Unix.
 


When I ran it, it told me the best one was 192.168.0.1, which is, of
course, my router.  The router was set to use Google’s DNS.
 Namebench knew that, of course.  It gave me the
recommendation to set Google’s DNS as the primary, and OpenDNS as the
secondary.  I did that.  

For the average user, does this make any difference?  I don’t
know.  I am going to guess that most people would not notice
the improvement, in most circumstances.  But some will notice
a significant improvement in their browsing experience.  You
are most likely to benefit if you often have the experience of clicking
on a link, then waiting a few seconds before anything happens, or
getting a page not found error that goes away when you try again, or
getting random redirections that take you somewhere strange at first,
but get the page you want when you try again.

How do you change the DNS settings in your system?  It
depends.  The best way to do it, for most people, is to use
your router’s interface.  There are too many different routers
and interfaces for me to have any hope of giving instructions here.
 So you are on your own if you want to do that.
 Google gives instructions href="http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/docs/using.html">here,
but they are fairly generic when it comes to routers.  The
instructions appear reasonably good for WIndows and Mac OS X users who
want to change the settings for individual computers, without messing
with the router.  But then you have to do the same thing for
each of your computers.  

If there is only one computer in the house, then it does not matter how
you do it.

Some people have raised privacy concerns about using Google’s DNS.
 My opinion is that if you are worried about that, you should
not use the Internet.  

(HT: Dangerousmeta)