Hack DNS for lightning-fast Web browsing

Here are no-cost ways to fine-tune DNS for faster browsing

No matter how big the broadband pipe you use to surf the Web, it's not big enough. Everyone, whether they use a slowpoke dial-up modem or the fastest FiOS line, wants to surf faster.

There's a simple way you can get to Web sites faster, and it won't cost you a penny. You can hack the way your PC uses the Domain Name System (DNS), the technology underlying all Web browsing. It's far simpler to do than you might imagine, as you'll see in this article.

Understanding DNS

Before you start, it's a good idea to get a basic understanding of how DNS works. When you type in a URL such as www.computerworld.com, that URL needs to be translated into a numeric IP address that Web servers and Internet routers can understand. When you type in a URL, a DNS server does the translation, from www.computerworld.com to 65.221.110.98, for example.

DNS servers live on the Internet, and your computer contacts them with the request to do that translation, which is commonly called name resolution. When you use an ISP, your computer will automatically use the default DNS servers specified by your ISP; you typically don't need to set up DNS in any way. If you're on a corporate network, your systems administrator may have set you up to use specific DNS servers.

If there's a delay in contacting the DNS server, or if the DNS server takes too much time resolving the address, you'll face a delay in getting to a Web site. So even if you've got the world's fattest pipe, your Web surfing will be slowed down.

If you could speed up the name resolution in some way, you'd be able to speed up your Web surfing. And that's exactly what I'll show you how to do.

Speed up Web browsing with OpenDNS

Here's the simplest way to hack DNS to speed up your Web browsing: Use free, superfast DNS servers run by the OpenDNS service instead of your ISP's DNS servers. OpenDNS has a monstrously big DNS cache, with DNS servers around the world, so you'll be able to retrieve IP addresses from it more quickly than from your ISP's DNS servers.

As I'll explain a little later in this article, the service includes other benefits as well, such as letting you create browser shortcuts so that you could go to www.computerworld.com, for example, by just typing the letter c in your browser and pressing Enter.

The addresses of the OpenDNS servers are 208.67.222.222 for a primary DNS server and 208.67.220.220 for a secondary server.

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