Find Fastest DNS and Optimize Your Internet Speed
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optimize your internet speed Google recently started a new service called Google Public DNS to help speed up your web browsing. This is an alternative to the DNS provided by your ISP, and other public DNS services like Open DNS, that we covered previously on MakeUseOf. Which of these options best optimize your internet speed? The good news is that you can test this yourself, and don’t need to be misled by anyone’s marketing pitch.

DNS: A Backgrounder

In simplified terms, Domain Name Servers (DNS) are translators that convert website names to IP Addresses. When you click on a bookmark, hyper-link, or enter an address like in your browser, the browser sends that name to a DNS Server that helps route the request to the appropriate IP Address of that URL. Think of this as your letter for “John Doe” being sent to his correct home address.

When your ISP configures your Internet connection, it is set to use the ISP’s DNS service. However, you are free to use other alternatives, as Karl explained in Open DNS Works Great As A Free Web Content Filtering Solution OpenDNS Works As A Great Free Web Content Filtering Solution OpenDNS Works As A Great Free Web Content Filtering Solution Read More . Thus, you can use Open DNS or the new Google Public DNS, to replace your ISP’s DNS.

Why should you use something other than what your ISP gives you for free? As you can see, Open DNS offers rich content-filtering options for privacy and family safety. Google Public DNS has been engineered by Google for faster performance and better security. However, because of the complex variables involved, no single option can be said to be the best for all when it comes to speed. So how do you find out which DNS is the fastest for you? Enter NameBench, a free tool to help you find the fastest DNS for you.

Introducing NameBench

NameBench is a portable application (no installation!) that works across the Windows, Mac, or Linux platforms. It runs a benchmark test on your computer, using either your web browser’s history or a standardized test data set to find out which DNS service returns the fastest results for your location. Download and run the application from the Google Code repository here.

Starting the NameBench Test

Before you run NameBench, make sure you have closed all applications using the Internet. This will ensure that the results are not distorted by interference from other programs using your network bandwidth. Then, launch the application, and you will see a screen like this:

find fastest dns server

The Nameservers at the top shows the DNS servers you are currently using. If you are not interested in technical details, simply click “Start Benchmark”. The test takes between 10-20 minutes, so you can take a coffee break while it runs.

NameBench Results

After the test is complete, your browser launches to show you the results. At the very top are the main results (in this case, showing that my ISP’s DNS is hopelessly slow):

find fastest dns server

At the right, you can see which DNS service works the fastest for you. To change your DNS configuration, you can follow the instructions at the Google Public DNS site, using the recommended configuration from the test, instead of Google’s Public DNS.

NameBench Options Explained

NameBench includes public DNS providers like OpenDNS and UltraDNS in its test via the first checkbox. The “Include best available regional DNS services“ option tests the health and response time of over 1000 DNS servers worldwide so that it can include those that are close to you and may be the fastest. Leave both options checked for best results.

The “Benchmark Data Source” drop-down will give you the option of choosing your browser history or a standardized data set of the top 10,000 Internet websites. Many of those websites would be foreign-language ones that you never visit, so keep the default option and use your browser history for the test.

Using the “Benchmark Data Selection“ mode, you can choose a random or sequential set of websites from your browser history. The default “Weighted“ mode uses more of your recent browser history and is the best option for most users. Finally, the Number of tests represents how many requests will be sent to the servers, and should be kept over 100, preferably 150-200. Running the test more than once with “Number of runs“ > 1, will result in DNS caching being used for subsequent runs if you want to test performance with and without caching.

NameBench Results In Detail

find fast dns server

The Tested DNS Servers table shows a list of the DNS Servers that were used for the test, with the corresponding response times, notes, and errors if any. NameBench allows a maximum of 10 DNS servers at a time.

optimize internet speed

This graph shows the average and fastest response times for the top 5 servers.

optimize internet speed

Finally, this pretty graph shows the percentage of times a response was received from a server within the first 200 milliseconds.

Grab your free download of NameBench and run the test. You may be surprised by the results! Did you change your DNS servers after using it? Is your web browsing faster as a result? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. Pollux
    May 16, 2015 at 2:24 am

    I agree with thios. Google knows too much about us already. Especially when they are reading our free gmail accounts. Why is gmail free? Same reason that Open DNS is free.

  2. 500gb disque dur externe
    January 10, 2010 at 10:18 am

    These tweaks just adjust the time to open the taskbar, force shutdown of programs, and turn off Aero. These features were intentionally added by Microsoft you dumb piece of shit. Jesus, comments like these really get me raged because you're probably 12 years old sitting there and is the future of our society.

    • @500qb disque dur externe
      January 30, 2010 at 8:04 pm

      Did you fall down and bump your head?
      DNS has absolutely NOTHING to do with taskbar times, forced shutdowns, or Aero....or Windows (all OS's use DNS or provide their own).

      From a BS in CS from an accredited uni., net. eng. III, CCNA, RHCE, Net+ certs. You need to stop passing along information on subjects you absolutely know nothing about.

  3. thios
    December 15, 2009 at 4:51 am

    Google knows too much already about our preferences via their search. No need to browse from their DNS-I prefer a slower internet, thanks.

  4. willemijns
    December 15, 2009 at 4:49 am

    The goal is not to have the biggest list of DNS but the high QoS list...

  5. Rick S.
    December 14, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    I prefer the much more thorough freeware tool
    DNSBench from grc. It has many more dns servers to test and it a great explanation/advise after running the test.

  6. Vadim P.
    December 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Ubuntu users can get it here: