Is Google's DNS Service Worth It?

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The Domain Name System, or DNS, is the address book of the Internet. Type in a site name such as www.amazon.com, and DNS servers "resolves" that name into an IP address, which is a set of numbers that can get you to the site. On Thursday, Google announced its own DNS service, called Google Public DNS, which it says is part of its initiative to "speed up the Internet."

For most people, DNS is hidden. Routers, DSL and cable modems usually automatically set up the DNS servers used by your home network. You can change this, either by changing the settings on your router, or by changing it on each PC individually, but it's not, as Google itself admits, for the faint of heart.

You will have a primary and secondary DNS server assigned to you, so in order to use those, you have to replace them with Google's DNS servers' IP addresses: 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. Although Google states its main aim is to speed up the Internet, an added benefit from changing to their DNS servers is that you won't be subjected to a page full of ads if you've mistyped an address.

Google's DNS servers aren't the only "open" ones on the Internet; there's also OpenDNS, whose servers are located at 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220. One good thing about OpenDNS: they have much better instructions than Google's, in terms of changing your DNS servers on your router, even ones specific to a particular OEM. Google's instructions are very generic.



The main question is: is it worth the trouble? For most folks, the answer will be no. For those who want the ultimate in speed, switching your DNS servers away from your ISP may improve your speed, but only marginally, and not if you switch to Google's DNS servers.

PC Magazine's tests for speed showed, in fact, that Google's servers were only marginally faster (in one test) and marginally slower (in a second test) than your ISP's DNS servers might be. In both cases, OpenDNS was marginally faster than either.

In effect, if you want to switch to a DNS server that's not your ISPs, at least for now, if speed is your main goal, than OpenDNS is better than either. Of course, OpenDNS makes its money, for non-premium accounts anyway, by serving ads up on pages with mistyped addresses, soemthing you might find annoying. Of course, since your ISPs DNS servers usually do the same, maybe not.
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rapid1 replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 12:52 AM

Well I have been using OpenDNS for quite some time now. I guess about a year or maybe a month or two more. When I got my laptop (P7811-FX) and needed wireless I also got a router Trendnet TEW-672GR/ Shortly after that I did an essay on wireless security. At that time I changed everything in the router which is actually not all that hard. If you mess up a modern home router in general they have a reset switch which auto resets them top to bottom to stock settings. I also update my firmware regularly etc. I have seen a marginal speed increase, but that's about it. As I said this was done for a reason I seriously doubt you would see much difference by doing it, although I do like to know my internet searches are not directed. Which as stated is also done by everyone else, however opendns does not really pre-direct at least from my experience.

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I'll check this out

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3vi1 replied on Sun, Dec 6 2009 11:04 AM

I use OpenDNS too. My ISP's DNS servers would sometimes fail to resolve common sites, and they send me to their own search/advertisement page. That got old real quick - OpenDNS always works.

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At least those IP addresses are easy to remember! My ISP, Speakeasy, has good service and I assume taht means a decent name server, so I'm unlikely to switch. If my mom gets Comcast Internet, though, she might see some improvement-- I'll try it out.


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My AT&T DSL was giving me fits of rage over the recent 5-day Thanksgiving weekend. From Wednesday through Sunday I endured speeds that weren't much faster than dial-up and I was very frustrated. I suspect my ISP's Los Angeles server was inundated with online shoppers because my normal 5.1Mbps speed didn't return until Monday. I'm going to try Google's servers next time this happens and see if it helps. Thanks for the article!

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digitaldd replied on Tue, Dec 8 2009 10:52 AM

Super Dave:

My AT&T DSL was giving me fits of rage over the recent 5-day Thanksgiving weekend. From Wednesday through Sunday I endured speeds that weren't much faster than dial-up and I was very frustrated. I suspect my ISP's Los Angeles server was inundated with online shoppers because my normal 5.1Mbps speed didn't return until Monday. I'm going to try Google's servers next time this happens and see if it helps. Thanks for the article!

I doubt it would help in that instance unless the problem were the speed of your AT&T DNS lookups. Most likely that wasn't the problem.

 

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I have my blekin N+ on the Google DNS and its working great...

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There is a third. Comodo, as in comodo firewall, has a DNS

http://www.comodo.com/secure-dns/

I wonder how it stacks up to the other 2

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Kiristo replied on Fri, Dec 11 2009 11:17 AM

Been using OpenDNS for a couple years now. Actually recommended a friend switch to it when he was having intermittent DNS resolving problems and it fixed his issue, so it's not only faster, but more stable than your ISP's DNS sometimes.

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digitaldd replied on Wed, Dec 16 2009 2:41 PM

I used  GRC's DNS benchmark with Google's DNS, for me OpenDNS was still faster, even faster than Time Warner's DNS and I'm on Time Warner.

 

 

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