Cyber-Monday, what a great day for Comcast’s DNS (Domain Name System) service to fail. This isn’t the first, or last, time that an ISP’s DNS has failed. Even when the commercial ISPs’ DNS are working flawlessly, they don’t tend to work that well. Fortunately, there are better alternatives.
To use OpenDNS’ DNS service, you can set up a free Basic Account, but to just get the benefit of its DNS, all you need do is set up your local router and/or PCs to use 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 for their DNS settings. With Google Public DNS, you do the same thing except you use these DNS Internet Protocol addresses: 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11.
How you do this depends on your network devices and your PCs’ operating systems. Here are the basics for the major desktop operating systems.
Setting Microsoft Windows 7 DNS Settings
- 1. From the Apple menu, click System Preferences, then click Network. 2. If the lock icon in the lower left-hand corner of the window is locked, click the icon to make changes, and when prompted to authenticate, enter your password. 3. Select the connection for which you want to configure DNS. To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, select Built-In Ethernet, and click Advanced. To change the settings for a wireless connection, select Airport, and click Advanced. 4. Select the DNS tab. 5. Click + to replace any listed addresses with, or add, IP addresses of the Google or OpenDNS DNS servers. 6. Click Apply and OK.
Setting Ubuntu Linux DNS Settings
- In many modern Linux distributions, DNS settings are configured through Network Manager. 1. In the System menu, click Preferences, then click Network Connections. 2. Select the connection for which you want to configure DNS. For example: To change the settings for an Ethernet connection, select the Wired tab, then select your network interface in the list. It’s probably called eth0. To change the settings for a wireless connection, select the Wireless tab, then pick your wireless connection. 3. Click Edit, and in the window that appears, select the IPv4 Settings tab. 4. If the selected method is Automatic (DHCP), open the drop-down menu and select Automatic (DHCP) addresses only instead. If the method is set to something else, do not change it. 5. In the DNS servers field, enter the addresses of the Google or OpenDNS DNS servers. 6. Click Apply to save the change. If you are prompted for a password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
Personally, I prefer to use DNS addresses from both OpenDNS and Google. That way, even if one or the other goes down I’ll still have a good external DNS server. For my own use, I also use my own DNS server. How to set up one of those though is a story for another day. For almost all home or SOHO use, using OpenDNS and/or Google DNS services is more than enough protection.