OpenDNS: What's Your Take?

For those of you that haven't clicked one of the attractive orange logos flying around the forums lately:

"OpenDNS offers DNS resolution for consumers and businesses as an alternative to using their Internet service provider's DNS servers. By placing company servers in strategic locations and employing a large cache of the domain names, DNS queries are processed much more quickly, thereby increasing page retrieval speed." Since last July, the number daily requests has shot up from ten million to just shy of a billion.

The folks at OpenDNS provide a 'free' (more on that in a second) alternative to the DNS servers provided by your ISP. The basic idea being consistently fast domain name resolution, with some phishing protection and 'domain name spell checking' thrown in. The service noticeably improved browsing speeds on my 6Mbps cable connection. (being provided by a small Canadian ISP with notoriously poor DNS servers) Several of my friends report massive improvements when using OpenDNS on college/university campuses.

OpenDNS makes its money by offering clearly labeled advertisements alongside organic search results when the domain entered is not valid and not a typo that the service can fix. If for example, you spelled Google.com 'G123ggle.com' in your address bar, you would be sent to an OpenDNS search page instead of the usual 404 page.

Have you used OpenDNS? What's your take?

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Hey guys,

David Ulevitch here -- from OpenDNS (and EveryDNS.net). I like the discussion here, you guys are all pretty cluefull. I wanted to let you know I can answer any questions about OpenDNS. I'm going to write another post today here about why hop count != DNS speed.

There are lots of instances where we might be 10ms further from you than your ISPs DNS server and we'll still be faster. I will link to some code that'll help you test too and find out for yourselves. The results will also help us know where we can improve connectivity and where we are doing good. :-)

Thanks,
davidu

When Verisign redirected typod urls to its search engine, the internet went nuts about it. What makes this solution any better?

I used it for a good few months but I found it to be slower than my ISPs name servers. It's also frustrating when sites I visit change hosting or IP addresses and opendns would take over a week to update.

Which is a shame really because it's a really great idea.

OpenDNS holds domains the full length of the TTL set by the domain owner, but NEVER longer.

To avoid any problems with that property (which is unique, as far as I can tell), OpenDNS introduced CacheCheck (http://cache.opendns.com), which does something simple (but unheard of): you can view what's in the cache for a domain, and refresh the cache on demand. For domain owners, that's a powerful tool when moving your domain, even if you forget to lower your TTL.

John Roberts
OpenDNS

suddenly theres an urge to make incredibly simple systems we all use that could have easily been recreated by programmers with a few hours on their hands finally oepn source, first OpenBIOS now OpenDNS. why now, why not a decade ago?

black_death said,
suddenly theres an urge to make incredibly simple systems we all use that could have easily been recreated by programmers with a few hours on their hands finally oepn source, first OpenBIOS now OpenDNS. why now, why not a decade ago?
DNS has always been open source. And OpenNIC existed LONG before OpenDNS, and noone EVER mentioned them. In fact, to my knowledge, OpenNIC never did the bs "sitefinder" crap OpenDNS does. They also have more DNS servers in more countries. OpenDNS is nothing special.

Hi,

Unless you actually test it in your environment then just stating that there is no OpenDNS servers in your area is not a good test.

It can actually be faster if your ISP has slow or poorly configured DNS servers or if they are unreliable.

In addition there is nothing stopping you chaining the OpenDNS servers in series with you ISP's ones in most operating systems or in your Router configuration.

In the UK the OpenDNS servers do seem to be faster than my ISP's so I use them in preference to those.

In Windows XP I change the DNS server settings for the TCP/IP setting to point to OpenDNS first and then to use my ADSL Router which is configured with my ISP's settings.

If OpenDNS were to ever fail (which is hasn't so far) then it would fall back to using my ISP's servers automatically.

Kind Regards

Simon

If for example, you spelled Google.com 'G123ggle.com' in your address bar, you would be sent to an OpenDNS search page instead of the usual 404 page.

Well, that's not really 'spelling' google, now is it? That's typing in random crap ;)

I use it. I love it. I don't how how much faster it is but compared to having an ISP with DNS servers that go down enough to make me want to slam my router against the wall, it's much better

Oh noes...they might see our surfing habits!!! Oh noes...they'll realize I have a animal fetish...a dead animal fetish! Lions are pretty hawt though.

Seriously...who cares. If it makes things go faster, awesome, if not, woo. I've been using it for about a year now. It's great, it's free and my love of the fetish porn is quenched...daily.

RARRR...

I'm using this because my ISP has issues with it's DNS, since they piggy back with Cogeco and the pings are always gross. After switching to OpenDNS, I've noticed my ping/response time is a lot faster.

I switched to EarthLink about a month ago and immediately, their DNS was a problem. Started using OpenDNS and instantly saw a massive improvement.
Versus EarthLink, this "targeted' advertising isn't foreign, as EarthLink actually does this as uses this method as well. RoadRunner, my previous ISP, however, DNS seemed to go a "I'm Feeling Lucky" search; which was really great. But it's a small sacrifice to make for a great, free service.

I don't know if I would trust OpenDNS.
Even though my ISP is also bent on making money, it is a different customer-provider-relationship for me, since OpenDNS is "free" and "as is" while the ISP provides a paid service, that is bound to specific terms.

Personally I think it is way to risky to rely on an external party (which is not your ISP or a reputable DNS server provider) to do DNS-Resolution for you.
The local DNS cache would be the solution I would opt in for.

Here on Cablevisions network opendns makes a huge difference.

Usually if I use cablevisions dns servers there is a big pause before the page loads, with open dns that pause basically goes away.

Big problem though. Open DNS makes some pages not come up. So you have to know wich pages work and wich ones don't

Hmmm...no improvement noticeable.

The OpenDNS ns servers are all hosted in US and one in UK, none in Asia.

The ISP's ns servers here are ok, thus OpenDNS ns servers serve no benefit to me.

I don't see a point in it, for me anyway, my ISP's DNS are a hell of a lot closer to me than the UK or US, and my router has a DNS server in it, so known sites are found in around 1ms, unknown sites take 30-40ms.

And even then, that as no impact on my web browsing speeds (as people somehow claim)

hmmm i i changed my dns in my router restarted router and pc's and it wasnt showing up as configured, so i guess its not working for me

I'm not quite sure why OpenDNS is being praised for their SiteFinder clone that NetworkSolutions was blasted for. When I do a query, if that site doesn't exist, I want the software that made the request to be able to react to that, not always be told the site exists and its some ad site.

I was wondering the same the thing. Everyone hated it when NetworkSolutions did this. Is Open DNS really as big as this post is making it out to be? It doesn't seem that special to me.

Used it and to be honest I thought the speed differences, if any, were negligible at best. Certainly not enough difference to get excited about. I guess it boils down to how poor your existing ISP is.

Whoa, never used it before, but giving it a try now. It's really fast!

At least better than Rogers, notorious for crappy internet...

I have Rogers Lite (1mpbs) service, at least until I switch over to Velcom, do you think I will notice a significant speed increase if I switch DNS servers? Is it worth the ad-based 404 page?

I'm using it at home as my primary DNS server because it actually works, compared to my ISP DNS servers that tend to go down almost every day at the worst times (in the evening when there are a lot of internet users and when I need my internet the most because I use it for my side job). I haven't noticed any speed difference (can you notice 20ms difference in page load? I personally can't).

I love it, no complaints about it at all. My ISP (GlobeLines in the Philippines) DNS servers are crap to say the least.

Yes, and they're OK, and pretty similar performance to my more local DNS services. I'm still usually using my own ones since they seem slightly faster, but if you for some reason have really crappy ones, I guess they can be worth looking for...

Their spelling and auto-search system feels more annoying than anything else, and interfers with Firefox' "I'm Feeling Lucky" search feature.

Jugalator said,
Yes, and they're OK, and pretty similar performance to my more local DNS services. I'm still usually using my own ones since they seem slightly faster, but if you for some reason have really crappy ones, I guess they can be worth looking for...

Their spelling and auto-search system feels more annoying than anything else, and interfers with Firefox' "I'm Feeling Lucky" search feature.


Uh, what? Firefox doesn't have an "I'm Feeling Lucky" search feature... not unless you're running some secret experimental build the rest of us don't know about.
Oh, did you mean GOOGLE'S "I'm Feeling Lucky" feature? Gee, I wonder if it does the same thing in IE and Opera?

Croquant said,
Uh, what? Firefox doesn't have an "I'm Feeling Lucky" search feature... not unless you're running some secret experimental build the rest of us don't know about.
Oh, did you mean GOOGLE'S "I'm Feeling Lucky" feature? Gee, I wonder if it does the same thing in IE and Opera?
:rolleyes:

Yes it does. Its based on Googles "I'm Feeling Lucky" i think. Just type "neowin" in the adressbar in firefox and it will direct you to neowin. Now try "neowin forum" in the adressbar.

I dont see any point in using another external DNS provider. The dns services provided by your own ISP should always work faster because they are closer and most likely have better latency.

Secondly, isn't anyone of you at all worried about the datamining possibilities your use of OpenDNS gives them? Every _single_ website, host, whatever you go trough trough your internet connection gets queried trough the OpenDNS servers. They will have a perfect record of every place you have been going. Just something to think about.

As for where your queries get sent, it's an option of your ISP or OpenDNS... It's worth knowing about, but in either case, some server is receiving all your web queries.

I've found OpenDNS to be more reliable than my ISPs (Comcast) DNS. I haven't done any timings to determine what is generally faster, but when the local DNS isn't working at all, then OpenDNS is faster.....

Also, OpenDNS allows you to collect some general statistics about your own DNS queries. It allows you to see the domains contacted most often. It turns out that for me, with a dozen devices in my network, that the domains contacted most often are ones that support the Wii. I was surprised at that, as the Wii isn't generally used for accessing the internet, as opposed to our many other devices, like the XBox 360 which is played on-line all the time.

I host my own caching dns server on a XP machine. I have my own set of blocklist. Its faster than any remote service.
I don't see any advantage in using this ad-based service.

I have have it on all my routers for a long time. All works fine.

@Kevin8020: the http:// http://www is not the fault of the dns service provider. It is down to the ignorance / laziness of the domain owner / host.

this seems quite good ... although my own isp's has a quicker ping... so as of now im using my ISP's as my primary DNS and this OpenDNS as a secondary dns server.... cause i do noticed once in a while my main isp's acts up... so i figure between my main isp's dns and this opendns i should have perfect http internet ;)

opendns ping for me is roughly 45ish MS

my main isp's is like less than 20ms

My ISP's DNS server has serious issues and is pretty unreliable. I switched to OpenDNS for my primary DNS and my ISP as my secondary, and haven't had a problem since.

I use it, works great actually faster than my ISP DNS.

They were experiencing DoS attacks on the weekend, as I changed one of my domain names to another server and usually OpenDNS picks it up within a few minutes, took them over 14 hours to pickup the update to the domain.

I only wish it would block out certain spyware websites, but maybe I can do that in my account settings haven't quite looked at that yet.


I tried using it and got quite annoyed at the extra 40+ms it added to all my queries.

A quick example of www.neowin.net

[root@storage ~]# dig @208.67.222.222 www.neowin.net

; <<>> DiG 9.3.4 <<>> @208.67.222.222 www.neowin.net
; (1 server found)
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 1398
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 3, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;www.neowin.net.                        IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
www.neowin.net.         900     IN      CNAME   neowin.net.
neowin.net.             60      IN      A       66.28.242.203
neowin.net.             60      IN      A       66.28.242.204

[b];; Query time: 81 msec[/b]
;; SERVER: 208.67.222.222#53(208.67.222.222)
;; WHEN: Mon Mar 12 23:01:49 2007
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 78

[root@storage ~]# dig www.neowin.net                

; <<>> DiG 9.3.4 <<>> www.neowin.net
;; global options:  printcmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 10745
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 3, AUTHORITY: 2, ADDITIONAL: 0

;; QUESTION SECTION:
;www.neowin.net.                        IN      A

;; ANSWER SECTION:
www.neowin.net.         3300    IN      CNAME   neowin.net.
neowin.net.             60      IN      A       66.28.242.203
neowin.net.             60      IN      A       66.28.242.204

;; AUTHORITY SECTION:
neowin.net.             2394    IN      NS      ns2.neowin.net.
neowin.net.             2394    IN      NS      ns1.neowin.net.

[b];; Query time: 73 msec[/b]
;; SERVER: 127.0.0.1#53(127.0.0.1)
;; WHEN: Mon Mar 12 23:01:54 2007
;; MSG SIZE  rcvd: 114

Yes, there is only a 8ms difference on this query. However, usually, in multiple tests with my ISPs DNS and OpenDNS, my ISP works better. I find this an annoying gimmick as for the "joy" of having my spelling corrected I get the chance of my privacy being reduced.

I got sent a link to OpenDNS a few weeks ago by a friend. I've been loving practically everything about it. It works quickly, and has a near complete list of domains. I DO wish that it would include an auto-forward for http:// vs http://www. - but that's OK.

I would highly suggest OpenDNS - especially if you tend to be unable to access sites.

I can't say i've noticed any speed boosts or the likes (my ISP is British Telecom though, so it's no surprise there wasn't any/much room for improvement in that respect), but the added 'security' is worth the move itself (especially taking into account the other comp in this house is the parents...and yes, i've already deleted the icons etc that lead to I.E. and installed firefox, but you can't be too 'secure' when it comes to the oldies :P )