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Optimizing DNS for Better Performance

Jan. 23, 2014
James Michael Stewart

serverroomdatacenterguy149164146A frustrating part of surfing the Internet is slow and sluggish domain name system (DNS) resolutions. Most Internet users don't realize that often a website or other service that seems slow to respond is actually working fine. Instead, it’s the resolution of DNS that is putting a glitch in your giddy up. There is a wide range of reasons why DNS might be sluggish, ranging from an over-taxed server being used by too many users to insufficient memory to complicated iterative queries.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to optimize your DNS to get better performance.

  1. Always set your DNS on your main network management device where DHCP is being performed. For most home users and small office environments, this will be on your wireless access point (WAP). Set the DHCP service to hand out a preferred DNS address to devices as they receive their IP address lease. Often you will piggyback on your ISP's DNS server(s) by default, but this is usually not the most efficient option.

  2. Consider using one of the free and open DNS servers rather than your ISP's. Many are available. Three common ones are:

For larger lists of specific open/public/free DNS servers, visit:

Picking at random one of these public DNS servers might not provide the most optimal DNS resolution speed. If you want to find out what the fast DNS resolver is for your location, you need to use the DNS Benchmark tool from Steve Gibson of GRC fame. DNS Benchmark is a free Windows tool that will perform a detailed performance analysis against a range of DNS servers to discover which one is the most efficient and responsive at the time of testing. To get started, grab the tool, read the online instructions, then start the test. In about 30 minutes, you'll have your location-specific results. In most cases, selecting one of the top three DNS servers discovered by this tool will give you great results.

These steps should help provide better performance and success in your Internet search experience.

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