Test DNS Server Performance

If you been following the tech blogs, there has been a lot of talk about DNS (Domain Naming System) and which DNS nameserver settings to use that will ultimately optimize and make your internet experience faster and safer. For example, instead of using my internet service provider’s default DNS settings, I have opted to the DNS settings from a provider called OpenDNS. OpenDNS is claimed to be faster than your provider’s DNS and has the ability to filter out the bad content, when properly setup. There are other popular DNS services such as Norton DNS and Google DNS.

Why does DNS matter?

The DNS protocol is an important part of the web’s infrastructure, serving as the Internet’s phone book: every time you visit a website, your computer performs a DNS lookup. Complex pages often require multiple DNS lookups before they start loading, so your computer may be performing hundreds of lookups a day. – Google

Changing your DNS settings is very easy to do and is not complicated at all. Once you decide which DNS provider to go with it is a matter of inserting a set of numbers at the computer level (under your Network Connections) or you can actually do it at the router level. Instead of rewriting those instructions on “how to”; best instructions I have found on how to change your DNS is reflected in Bill Mullin’s recently posted article “Norton DNS – Another Layer of Computer Security“.  Those same instructions (found toward the end of the article) will apply to using any of the DNS providers.

Once you get a general understanding about DNS and what all the fuss is about, you are probably wondering how do you benefit from changing your DNS settings and which DNS provider is best? One tool to help you benchmark the various DNS providers (or servers), AND answer these questions,  is the small (154K) portable tool called DNS Benchmark.

“You can’t optimize it until you can measure it”
Now you CAN measure it!

DNS Benchmark

DNS Benchmark – This little puppy will help you determine your DNS performance by comparing (or benchmarking) your performance with other DNS nameservers.  What you will learn is it is all about location; where you are located relative to the DNS nameserver you are using.

GRC’s DNS Benchmark performs a detailed analysis and comparison of the operational performance and reliability of any set of up to 200 DNS nameservers (sometimes also calledresolvers) at once. When the Benchmark is started in its default configuration, it identifies all DNS nameservers the user’s system is currently configured to use and adds them to its built-in list of publicly available “alternative” nameservers. Each DNS nameserver in the benchmark list is carefully “characterized” to determine its suitability — to you — for your use as a DNS resolver. This characterization includes testing each nameserver for its “redirection” behavior: whether it returns an error for a bad domain request, or redirects a user’s web browser to a commercial marketing-oriented page. While such behavior may be acceptable to some users, others may find this objectionable.

In my testing, using DNS Benchmark, I found that OpenDNS, from my geographical location, was top dog and utimately made a noticeable difference in my browser page loads. Remember DNS is like a phonebook.  Everytime you visit a website in your browser, your computer performs a DNS lookup using the DNS provider that you have selected. It really does make a difference!

Other interesting articles about DNS:

OpenDNS – Something to try…

Google’s Public DNS Resolution Service

Flushing The DNS Cache On Your Computer

Change Your DNS Easily with DNS Jumper


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13 thoughts on “Test DNS Server Performance

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  1. Bill,

    Thank you! I linked to your Norton DNS article. Your instructions are very easy to understand about changing the DNS on your PC. By the way, Are you leaning more to Norton DNS?



  2. OpenDNS isn’t faster then any ISP in my area, but since I get the same protection if I am home, or out in the public (I am at a public library as I speak in fact), its well worth it.

    Plus filtering…and stats…gotta love it :).


    1. Dreamsburned,

      Noticeable difference using OpenDNS at my location (over my ISP)…

      OpenDNS definitely is a nice layer of protection for the end user.

      Nice hearing from you!



  3. Excellent article. Great resources. Recently we had a DNS outage on one of our four WANS. By using the above tools (GRC), we were able to reconfigure our equipment to point to the ‘next’ fastest and available servers and we were back in business in no time. Excellent.



  4. Very timely post again Rick because these last few days, I’m finding it harder to connect to the net. One of my scans told me that a DNS connection is one problem. Now I would know what that means by your DNS Benchmark. Thanks!


  5. Very interesting article about DNS, I didn’t realize that which DNS server you use really makes a difference! Does DNS Benchmark give you information about which server helps your website have more views?


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