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,
Rhiannon

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