What is OpenDNS and How does it work?
In order to understand the functionality of Open DNS, you need to understand a little bit about how the Domain Name System (DNS) works. Internet users open browsers, type in the website address and visit web sites every day without realizing just how this is possible. The DNS allows them to seamlessly make it from web page to web page without a second thought. This system takes a domain name and translates it so that networks hosting web sites understand that is where a user wants to go. This makes it much easier to get around the Internet without having to know numerical domain names, such as 22.214.171.124, to get you where you are going.
Every domain on the Internet is assigned a name server. This name server functions as the go-to for a particular domain. When you visit your favorite web site, it is pulled up because the name server directs it to be pulled up for you. Most web sites have multiple domain name servers which allow it to be visited even when one DNS fails to respond. Unless the entire DNS structure for a particular domain fails, you can be redirected through name servers until one displays a web page. DNS also stores databases, mail servers and other important information that makes them reliable to the overall working of the Internet.
OpenDNS is an alternative solution for consumers, businesses and anyone using the Internet. The OpenDNS service offers those signed up the option of bypassing their service provider’s DNS and routing through less crowded data servers. This significantly speeds up browser speeds, even if the user themselves do not see it.
How to set up OpenDNS on your PC:
The first step to utilizing OpenDNS is to sign up for it. Once you go through the sign-up process, you will be able to set up a profile, add your computer and begin using OpenDNS’ functionality.
The following instructions are for setting up OpenDNS on a Windows Vista computer using a wireless Internet connection. You can obtain instructions for other operating systems and set-ups at OpenDNS’ web site.
You want to open the Start Menu and then head to your Control Panel.
Once there, you want to click on View Network status and tasks under the Network and Internet header.
You want to click on the Wireless Network Connection link. Click on Properties, and if it asks for your permission to access this area, click yes and continue. Make sure that Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) is checked, then click Properties again.
In the next box, you want to check the Use the following DNS server addresses box and enter in OpenDNS’ preferred IP addresses. They are 126.96.36.199 for the preferred box and 188.8.131.52 for the alternative one. You want to click Apply, and then exit out all the networking windows back to your desktop.
Whenever you change any Internet settings, you want to flush your cache to make sure the settings have updated completely. Open the Start Menu and type cmd in the search box. A black box will pop up, and you want to type in ipconfig /flushdns. This will complete the set-up on your computer for OpenDNS.
How to set up OpenDNS on a router:
The next step is to set up OpenDNS on your router. This guide will be a general walkthrough of how to change settings on most routers. For more detailed instructions, refer to the instruction manual that came with your router.
You need to open your router’s administrative settings. Open your web browser and navigate to your router. This information will be in its instruction manual. For example, I use a Linksys router, so to open the settings on my own, I would go to 192.168.1.1. You will be prompted to enter a username and password.
Next, you have to find the DNS settings for your router. You are keeping an eye out for anything that says DNS and has four fields where you can put in the same type of numbers you did when setting up your computer to work with OpenDNS. Once you find the fields, you want to put in the same DNS addresses you did before. You want to enter 184.108.40.206 for your preferred DNS and 220.127.116.11 for your alternate.
Once you have set that up, you want to exit the router settings and once again flush your DNS. You can follow the steps from before to do this. When you are done flushing the DNS this time, you are ready to take advantage of OpenDNS.
How does OpenDNS speed up browsing?
Imagine how many people are using your Internet service provider in just your block of the neighborhood. Every single one of them is routed through the same DNS as you. The more people using that particular DNS server, the more crowded it becomes and eventually can lead to a slowdown when it comes to surfing the web. OpenDNS allows you to bypass this and utilize data servers around the globe to get to your destination on the Internet faster.
Internet Service Providers can be slow, unreliable and have unexpected service outages when you need them the most. OpenDNS gives you an alternative to avoid these hiccups in your provider’s service. When you type in a web address, OpenDNS routes you to it quicker than your Internet provider who is also trying to direct every other user to where they want to go.
Can OpenDNS really protect you from phishing attempts?
Phishing is one of the most dangerous forms of hacking on the Internet. If you visit one web site posing as your credit card provider, bank or other secure site and hand over your password, you may find yourself in trouble everywhere else. The creator of the phishing website can get access to your username and password and can use these details as he pleases.
OpenDNS helps prevent phishing through its service by keeping a blacklist of sites, domains and making it easier to spot these web sites before it is too late. In fact, if you type in the address or open a link to a suspected phishing site, OpenDNS will not load it for you. It will warn you that this is a possible phishing attempt so that you can verify the site details before you provide any sensitive information.
OpenDNS operates one of the largest anti-phishing databases on the Internet called PhishTank. This lets users add phishing sites to a list, and OpenDNS uses this list to protect its own users. Phishing is one of the easiest ways to have your identity stolen, bank accounts drained and accounts compromised. The OpenDNS service offers phishing protection that your Internet Service Provider could never offer.
Conclusion – Is using OpenDNS Worth It?
OpenDNS is an alternative to relying on your Internet Service Provider to be up and running at full speed all the time. In my limited experience with OpenDNS, it has improved my browser speed during specific times of the day, and I have noticed an overall boost in speed performance. If you use the Internet often, OpenDNS might be a solution to any issues you have using your provider.
If you are looking for an additional layer of security against phishing and want a safer browsing experience – OpenDNS cannot be beaten when it comes to the type of protection they offer users. The only way to know if OpenDNS is truly worth it for you is to sign up, configure it and check out the difference yourself. If you do, come back and let us know what you think of OpenDNS.