Google made much about its just released Google Public DNS, its DNS resolution service for speeding up Web browsing, but there's a better alternative, also available for free. OpenDNS has had a similar service for years. I'm a long-time OpenDNS user, and can vouch that it's everything you get from Google Public DNS, and more.
When you type in a URL, your browser needs to contact a DNS server, because Web servers require that you use a numeric IP address, rather than a URL with characters. Your browser sends the URL to the DNS server, the DNS server sends the IP address back to the browser, and the browser uses the IP address to contact the Web site you want to visit. Typically, you use your ISP's DNS servers to resolve the addresses.
Because Web pages have become increasingly complex over time, visiting a single Web page may require multiple DNS lookups. This can slow down your browsing if the DNS servers you contact are slow.
Google Public DNS and OpenDNS both have many DNS servers all over the world using caching technology to speed up DNS lookups, potentially speeding up your browsing as well.
So why is OpenDNS better than Google Public DNS? It gives you a slew of features missing from Google's offering. You can, for example, create shortcuts with OpenDNS so that you only need to type in a few characters instead of a whole URL to visit a site --- cw for computerworld.com, for example. There's also a dashboard that lets you do all kinds of things, including blocking individual Web sites. If you're managing a network, you can also get network usage reports.
There's certainly nothing wrong with Google Public DNS, and it's well worth using. But OpenDNS is even better.
This story, "Google Public DNS Pales Compared With OpenDNS" was originally published by Computerworld.