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Find the Fastest DNS Server for Your Computer

Here are two tools to help you find the fastest DNS servers near you, and one tool that lets you pick one with one click.

Google’s recent introduction of a DNS server provider has caused a bit of a stir.
DNS Servers, short for Domain Name Server (or System or Service) are the underlying system that translates the name (what comes after www.) of an internet domain into its “real” address, which is a series of numbers called an IP (Internet Protocol) address.
There are DNS providers that allow you to use their service for free, which is what Google has done, that are often faster than the one you are using. Normally, DNS servers are assigned automatically by your internet service provider. OpenDNS, Comodo DNS, DNS Advantage, and now Google, are examples of DNS providers.

Finding the fastest DNS Server
Two good programs have recently been introduced that use your internet connection to find the fastest DNS provider near you.
One program (created by Google) is called namebench, and the other is DNS Benchmark by GRC. I’ve used both programs, and not surprisingly they both worked well and both reported the same results. Both are easy to use – download, install, and open the program. Both run in the background until they finish (which can take awhile on a slow connection) and both have a results page when they are done.
Personally I like Google’s namebench interface better – I find it less complex and easier to use, and, it keeps a running tally of how many servers it has tested and how many are left to test.
GRC's DNS Benchmark shines with the sheer amount of data it generates and what you can do with it, such as being able to sort the data by Fastest Connection, by name, by owner, status and response time.

Configuring your computer to use the fastest DNS server
So, now you have your benchmark data, what do you do with it? You use the results to configure your computer or router to use the fastest DNS provider.
You can do this manually (it isn’t difficult) using the excellent, step by step directions that Google has whipped up.
Directions are available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and more.

Or, you can install this little program I’ve been using to automatically pick a DNS provider from a pre-configured list.
The program is called DNS Helper, and here's what it does:
'DNS Helper Is a small tool that will backup your current DNS address and then switch it to Google Public DNS for a faster, safer, more reliable internet experience. It runs in the system notification area and provides a popup menu to switch your DNS servers in a single click.'
It's likely at least one of the programs pre-configured DNS servers (other than Google) will be in your benchmark results.
The programs pre-configured DNS servers are Google, OpenDNS, Comodo DNS, DNS Advantage, Cisco System and ScrubIT.
Note: Some DNS providers, such as OpenDNS, have some protection built in, usually through Web content filtering and anti-phishing capabilities. To configure a router, go to the manufacturer’s website for directions specific to your router.

DNS Helper

GRC Domain Name Speed Benchmark
Compatible with all versions of Windows from Windows 95 through Windows 7, and Wine running Mac and Linux.

Google namebench Open-source DNS Benchmark Utility
Compatible with Mac OS X, Windows, and UNIX, and is available with a graphical user interface as well as a command-line interface.

Signing off for now,

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by masnerd (not verified) on 17. March 2012 - 22:58  (90767)

wow it realy work awesome

by Remah on 16. May 2011 - 6:45  (71973)

A great article. Thanks, Rhiannon.

Just to let everyone know that we're creating a new category related to this article. It will probably be called "Best Free DNS Resolution Service". At the moment, I've got ten services to look at. Let me know if you have others to add to the list:
Cisco Systems
Comodo Secure DNS
DNS Advantage Internet Guide
Google Public DNS
Norton DNS

I'll be looking using four main criteria to evaluate the services:
- Performance, mainly as measured by the response time;
- Security (or Safety), threat filtering to block malware, phishing and spam sites;
- Category filtering, primarily for parental control; and
- Features and Productivity, which is mainly about ease of use.

by rhiannon on 17. May 2011 - 1:58  (72046)

Hi Remah,

These are all I have to add to the list. :)

Sprintlink (Overland Park, KS, US)

OpenNIC (au) (de) (de) (uk) (us)
2001:470:8388:10:0:100:53:20 (us)
2001:470:1f10:c6::2 (us)

Full list of available OpenNIC servers is here

by Anonymous on 12. February 2010 - 10:30  (43433)

tried both. pleasantly surprised to find my connection improve after using grc. just the test. i use a large system cache. maybe it merely reordered the dns cache which made better access to fasters dnses.both excellent

by rhiannon on 12. February 2010 - 21:59  (43460)

Glad it worked so well for you. Faster is better. :)

by Anonymous on 24. January 2010 - 18:35  (41938)

Apologies for posting anon- sp filter rejects my username. I am surprised that not more readers have congratulated you Rhiannon, on a really well written article. I realise DNS helper has been mentioned before under removal of spyware, malware topic. Nevertheless, the above is superbly written, and easy to understand for average users. I thank you for that. Also, i have often said in the past, you often learn equally as much from the comments section of a particular article, as you do with the authors writings. Thank you also MC for the very interesting link. Two days ago, i knew relatively little about DNS, now, i am aware of level 3 servers. I really appreciate you guys educating the average computer user, in the ways you do. Cheers.

by rhiannon on 24. January 2010 - 21:13  (41953)

Nevertheless, the above is superbly written, and easy to understand for average users.

Thanks. That's exactly what I was hoping for when I wrote it. :)

Also, i have often said in the past, you often learn equally as much from the comments section of a particular article, as you do with the authors writings.

I learn a lot from commenters too. I'm often impressed with how much people know and more important, how generous they are to share the information.

by MidnightCowboy on 22. January 2010 - 11:28  (41736)

Some good DNS info and a great (LOL) OpenDNS v Comodo DNS argument here: