Tech Tip: OpenDNS

I’ve heard bits and pieces about OpenDNS for a while, so I decided today to give it a go. What it does is allow you to access a free, fast DNS server. Why would this be a good idea, you ask?

First, a bit of Internet history: every computer and/or device connected to the Internet is identified by an IP address, which is a series of numbers such as this: IP addresses make sense for computers, but a human being would find it nearly impossible to remember them.

So, humanized “domain names” were introduced to act as shorthand ways of remembering an IP address. To make this work, a centralized Domain Name Server (DNS) had to be set up so that I could ask it where should take me. It would give me the IP address I listed above.

Today, each ISP (whatever company you get your internet service from) has its own DNS server, which is understandably quite busy. Many of them are also quite slow, meaning that you spend much of your browsing time waiting for your ISP’s DNS to give you directions.

This is where OpenDNS comes in: they provide a faster, free DNS service that has already produced a noticeable speedup in my browsing. It takes a little bit of configuration, but the site has easy to follow instructions on how to do it for your operating system.

Once you’ve started, you can also set up shortcuts (eg: type “g” into your address bar to get to google) and filter out unwanted sites such as pornography and financial scams.

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