Picking a second DNS server

A few months back Time Warner suffered a massive DNS failure. Customers across the country (myself included) were unable to browse the web because Time Warner was unable to tell them what IP addresses went with which domain names. It was incredibly frustrating.

Since then, I’ve always made sure my computer is configured to use two separate DNS servers from different companies: one from whatever internet service I’m connected to, and another from somebody else. But how to pick the second DNS server? Google Public DNS? OpenDNS? Or something else?

I found this neat software called DNS Benchmark (or Domain Name Speed Benchmark, or Domain Name Server Benchmark… they aren’t consistent with the naming…). It checks a pile of DNS servers to see which perform best for you, and which are likely the most reliable.

Once you’ve picked your second DNS server, you just need to update your computer to use it and one of the DNS servers provided by your router. This process varies based on your OS, so I’m not going to walk you through it (there are hundreds of articles on Google to help you with this).

Time Warner has suffered occasional DNS issues since then, but I’ve never noticed. If the first DNS servers fails, your computer is smart enough to try the second.

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