How to Optimize Your DNS for Faster Internet

Joel Lee 12-02-2013

“The Internet is just a series of tubes” as one man so wisely stated. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. There’s a complex architecture that supports the Internet, and data packets need to travel some interesting routes in order to reach you. If you can optimize the paths that your data takes, you can boost your Internet speed.


Now, there are some limitations. Data packets are essentially light, and light has a fixed speed of travel. Internet data packets go from point A to B, and there’s going to be a point where it can’t travel any faster. So don’t expect to pump yourself up from 100 KB/s to 1 MB/s just by tweaking your DNS settings. However, you can noticeably improve your web browsing times just by optimizing your DNS records.

What Is DNS Optimization?

In simple terms, the Internet (at least the part of the Internet that contains webpages) is a network of computers where each computer holds a record of other computers on the Internet. These records are a list of “domain names 10 Effective Domain Name Search Tools and Domain Finders Want to find an available domain name for your website? These domain search tools will help you find the right one quickly. Read More ” and these servers are “domain name system” (DNS) servers. That’s a drastically simplified explanation, but it’s enough to understand why DNS is important.

This network of DNS servers What Is a DNS Server and Why Is It Unavailable? A DNS server matches a host and domain name with its server IP address. When a DNS server is unavailable, you can't reach the URL. Read More is how data packets traverse the Internet and reach their destinations. They hop from server to server, asking each server along the way for the correct route towards the target computer. This is called “routing”.

Now, certain DNS servers may have outdated records. Some servers may have inefficient records that point your data packets towards the scenic route, taking you all around the Internet before the packets can reach the destination. If you can track the most efficient DNS servers paths, then you can cut away that excess travel time. Thus, DNS optimization.

Benchmarking Your DNS Performance

There are certain tools for “DNS benchmarking” that can help you determine sub-optimal DNS records and fix them. In essence, they compare the response times of various DNS servers that you’ve used recently against publicly-available DNS servers.


This DNS server comparison is used to rank the various DNS servers in order of their response times and a few other factors. By optimizing this list, your data packets are sent out to the most efficient (read: fastest) DNS routes, which ends up increasing your browsing speed – sometimes significantly.

optimize dns

When it comes to benchmarking, I use Domain Name Speed Benchmark. The download is extremely light (only ~160KB) and the program is extremely easy to use. After you run the scan, there’s a handy little “Conclusions” tab that will summarize the state of your DNS connections. Full instructions, which are only 3 steps, are listed on the program’s website.

faster dns


NameBench Find the Fastest DNS to Optimize Your Internet Speed Other DNS servers can be faster than your ISP's DNS servers. Find the best DNS settings for your connection with these tools. Read More is another great program that can identify problems in your DNS records. It tells you where your Internet performance is failing and tries to find the most responsive DNS servers for your location. Use it before you use any DNS optimizer because if you already have high-performance DNS records, there’s little to gain.

Optimizing DNS Performance

So you’ve run some sort of DNS benchmark program and the conclusions state that your DNS connections are rather shoddy? Well, that’s when we know it’s time for you to clean up your records and improve web performance through a bit of optimization.

optimize dns

That’s where NameHelp comes in. NameHelp is a program that was developed by researchers at Northwestern University. It sits in the background of your system and silently optimizes dns settings to contact the fastest servers for your location. All it takes is a quick installation and configuration. Once that’s done, you’ll see a boost to your web browsing speed (given that your DNS benchmark wasn’t so great to start with).


NameHelp is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux systems free of charge.


If you have a high-speed Internet connection but notice that your web browsing speed isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, then your problem may lie in the DNS records. By optimizing your computer’s DNS records, you can find the fastest routes for your data packets to take when traveling the Internet.

Again, it won’t be a massive boost to your Internet speed, but in some cases it can result in quite a noticeable improvement in web browsing time. Run the benchmarks and see if you need to fix your DNS settings.

Image Credit: Web Address Via Shutterstock


Explore more about: Bandwidth, DNS.

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  1. Brian Lawrence
    April 11, 2013 at 3:20 am

    I use Open DNS and notice considerable improvement of how my pages load, without having used any DNS Benakmark program. I would recommend Open DNS, which is free to anyone.

  2. Nancy B
    April 10, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    Thanks for the info! I had no idea there were programs like this will definitely give DNS Benchmark a shot!

  3. hotdoge3
    March 5, 2013 at 5:46 am

    did the test and my ISP was the best but I am in New Zealand

    This may allso help and it free TCPOptimizer.exe SG TCP Optimizer

  4. Jonathan Neiderbach
    February 20, 2013 at 5:36 am

    Excellent, well written story. Not sure the improvement in speed is noticeable, and OpenDNS offers some great features, but always good to learn more about the infrastructure we depend upon.

  5. Guy McDowell
    February 19, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    Gibson utilities! There's a blast from the past. His software was awesome then and is still awesome today. You need to see the other tools he has.

  6. Augustine Correa
    February 15, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Was anyone able to download a working installer from the grc site? A 0kb exe is getting downloaded[tried it 3 different times] on my machine

  7. Catherine McCrum
    February 15, 2013 at 1:32 am

    Sending this info on to my Husband. He is my IT guy. I look forward to not only faster but smarter internet. Thanks for this article.

  8. Prasanth Mathialagan
    February 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Thanks for your information.

  9. Dane Morgan
    February 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    Looks like Domain Name Speed Benchmark will not run on Win8 64.

    • Joel Lee
      February 17, 2013 at 7:09 am

      Thanks for letting us know. Hopefully they update it soon!

    • Terry
      February 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

      Running on my Windows to Go version 8 x64. Just had to right click the application and run as administrator. This is almost a default anymore for me to run applicatons on Windows 8.

  10. T T
    February 14, 2013 at 11:44 am

    will it make computer working more harder n make the lifetime become shorter?

    • Joel Lee
      February 17, 2013 at 7:08 am

      No, it will not affect your computer's load, resource usage, or lifetime in any significant way.

  11. ion popa
    February 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    I didn't know this way to speed up browsing. I'll try it out and let my friends know. Thanks!

  12. R Michael Lacy
    February 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Thanks, I'm going to give NameHelp a try.

  13. Zviad Mikadze
    February 13, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    great article,thx

  14. Akshata Ptl
    February 13, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    I have used it some 1-2 years back. Google DNS is the best or always in top 3 for me.
    So use it or use something else to get rid of ISP restrictions.

  15. Ihtisham ul haq haq
    February 13, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    nice article helped me enhance my knowledge.....!

  16. EdmarJohn SanDiego
    February 13, 2013 at 11:36 am


  17. Mac Witty
    February 13, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Tried namebench on a mac 10.6.8 and after running nearly 15 minutes I got an error message saying it couldn't save JSON files. Grrrrr

    • Naz Lazar
      February 14, 2013 at 4:31 am

      I'm running on a MacBook Pro 10.8.2 and it seems stuck on "Waiting for wildcard cache queries from 22 servers (22 Threads) [0/2"

      How long is this supposed to take?

      • Joel Lee
        February 17, 2013 at 7:08 am

        Sorry, I can't really offer any troubleshooting help for the programs here.

  18. Alexander Carstensen
    February 13, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I have noticed a speed increase by changing my DNS to Google's Public DNS that you can find here :

    • Joel Lee
      February 17, 2013 at 7:07 am

      Using a new DNS such as Google's public DNS or OpenDNS is a great way to *potentially* speed up your Internet. However, due to way that custom DNS works, you may experience longer load times for CDN-related sites, like Youtube. Your mileage may vary!

  19. Anonymous
    February 13, 2013 at 3:20 am

    thanks for the tips. it is completely new to me

  20. clavicle44
    February 13, 2013 at 2:32 am

    I used Benchedhelp

  21. Trevor Lenten
    February 13, 2013 at 12:18 am

    Namebench is another great tool for this purpose.

    • Joel Lee
      February 13, 2013 at 3:38 am

      NameBench is mentioned in the article!

      • Trevor Lenten
        February 14, 2013 at 12:30 am

        Totally missed that :)

  22. Alexandra Momo
    February 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    This is really great, thx for the tips.