DNS look-ups are a very sensible topic. Of course you want very fast name-to-IP resolutions, but should you always use Google’s DNS server? After all they can keep track of all your network motion profile unless you are surfing by IP! Today I read about the OpenNIC Project and ran some speed tests. It’s very interesting and worthy to know about!

OpenNIC (a.k.a. "The OpenNIC Project") is an organization of hobbyists who run an alternative DNS network. [...] Our goal is to provide you with quick and reliable DNS services and access to domains not administered by ICANN.

Ok, I gave it a try and implemented a Perl-script that checks the speed. It throws a dice to call one of my often used domains and digs1 each of my predefined DNS servers to save the query time. I tested the following DNS server:

• 178.63.26.173 : one server of the OpenNIC project, located in Germany
• 217.79.186.148 : one server of the OpenNIC project, located in Germany (NRW)
• 8.8.8.8 : Google’s public DNS server, proven to be fast and reliable
• 172.16.20.53 : my ISP’s server
• 141.48.3.3 : name server of our university

Find the Perl code attached.

And here are the results after 10000 qeuries:

IPProvider10000 queries
172.16.20.53my ISP131989 ms
217.79.186.148OpenNIC259382 ms
178.63.26.173OpenNIC304094 ms
141.48.3.3NS of uni-halle.de394134 ms

As you can see, my ISP’s DNS server is the fastest, they may have optimized their internal infrastructure to provide very fast look-ups to its customers. But it is also nice to see, that there is one OpenNIC server that is faster than google! And this server comes with another feature: It doesn’t track any logs! Isn’t that great!?

To find some servers near you just check their server list. Some of them don’t record logs or anonymize them, and of course all of them are independent from ICANN administrations.

I can’t recommend to use any special DNS server, but I want to advise to test them and find the best one for your demands! Feel free to post your own test results via comment or trackback.

1 dig is part of the larger ISC BIND distribution

1 Comment

lifeofguenter | Permalink | 2010-12-27 10:02:01

Thank for benchmarking my dns: 217.79.186.148 :)

Yes, normally you will never be able to beat the providers DNS in a perfect setup. In DNS the response time of the network is very important, thats why google-dns/opendns will never be as fast - except if they really stock up their anycast (which I believe google can still do better than opendns).

The only reason, why I still never would recommend using the providers default DNS, is that they are not very reliable. You will see downtimes on “heise.de internet monitor” all the time. And since a year or so many decided to put ads on NXDOMAIN.

Anyways, my DNS should be pretty fast for people using Alice/Unitymedia especially in NRW Area - because they get mostly routed via Düsseldorf - where my DNS-Server is located.

I am planning next year some hardware upgrades and IPv6 - so maybe then I can even beat your provider DNS ;)