Google has created some stir on the web after releasing its Google Public DNS Service. As I switched to the Google DNS Servers – instead of using the DNS Servers provided by my ISP, I noticed a distinct increase in the browsing speed. I wondered if there may be any other servers that may be located near my region to get even a faster access.

I looked around the web for any tools that would let me compare the performance of various DNS servers. Incidentally it seems one of Google’s developers has developed a program to just that, called NameBench. Its a result of Google’s generous program for its developers called “20 Percent Time” – which lets the developers work on development projects of their liking. Now Lets see how NameBench helps you find the DNS Servers suited for your location.

namebench Startup Screen

The image above shows the NameBench Startup window.

How to use NameBench to get the fastest DNS Server for your location:

The process is quite easy. When you are on the startup screen above you have to select a couple of options, which isn’t really necessary. The default options are good enough to start the test from the word go. However, if you would like to mix it up. here are few things which can be changed and what they mean.

1) Nameservers:  the current DNS Servers that you are using are listed here – No need to change this.

2) Include global DNS Providers:  This will include well-known DNS providers with global coverage into your benchmark – This helps test against present and possibly new DNS Servers.

3) Include best available regional DNS services: Selecting this will include the fastest regional DNS servers in your test. This works by quickly testing the health of over 1,000 DNS servers around the world, and selecting only the fastest servers that provide correct responses.

4) Benchmark Data Source: NameBench works by requesting website addresses from each DNS server. This dialog allows you to select where this list of host names are generated from. The most accurate data source is your browser history, though for smaller histories, the benchmark may bias toward your currently configured primary DNS server. This list contains each browser that NameBench was able to find a history for, along with how many records it found in the history file (in parenthesis) as shown in the image below. I selected Firefox as it has maximum history files.

Namebench - Benchmark Data Source

5) BenchMark Data Selection: This option affects how records from your browser history or Alexa data are selected. For most users, weighted is the best option.

  • Weighted: For a dataset that has no duplicates, bias the selection toward the front of the list. If the dataset has duplicates, this algorithm automatically falls back to random mode. This mode was written primarily to support the Alexa dataset, which lists domains in order of popularity. If the data source is large enough, it will limit repeats to 3 per domain name.
  • Random: A mostly random selection of hosts from the data source. If the data source is large enough, it will limit repeats to 3 per host name.
  • Chunk: Selects a random sequential chunk from the data source. This option is good for replaying a browser session.

6) Number of tests: This option selects how many requests should be tested for each DNS server. The more tests, the more the results should reflect real-world usage. By default we send 125 requests for each name server.

7) Number of Runs: How many times the test is run. By default, we only run the test once.. Since each run repeats the same list of requests, each subsequent run should serve cached data. Running the test more than once can be useful to measure the performance difference between non-cached requests and cached requests.

Results of the DNS Benchmark Test:

After NameBench runs the test, it displays detailed results for the DNS Servers it tested.

Faster DNS Server

It seems Ultra DNS gives a better performance than the Google DNS Server for me – So I would switch to this server and check how it works for me.

Recommended Dns servers by Namebench

NameBench also recommends the best combination of DNS Servers for your computer for a faster browsing experience. Found that the results were quite accurate and have improved the browsing speed even further.

The DNS Servers tested by Namebench

The Results of the tested DNS Servers, including your present DNS Server are listed as shown above. We see that there are 3 DNS Servers that perform better than my primary DNS Server, with Ultra DNS topping the list.

The performance of the various DNS Servers are displayed in a Graph to help you get an idea of the response time for your requests from each server. Smaller the time for response, faster the browsing speed – in this case ultra DNS wins.

Mean Response Dutation

As we can see from the graphs and images shown above – NameBench helps you find the best DNS Server close to your location, so that you can get fastest browsing experience possible.

Click here Download NameBench.

Related reading: Google Launches Public DNS Service – Helps Improve Internet Browsing Speed.