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This is a continuation of last week’s article about the trials and tribulations of getting up to speed with Internet-related technology and staying there. It’s not being written from a professional confusingstandpoint – I haven’t been in that profession for over 20 years and don’t think I’ll cross-over or return to it any time soon. I want it to be the words of a layman, written for my fellow laypersons looking in.

I apologize if it gets boring or confusing. I’ll try to keep it interesting and, as something a little different, a little shorter than my usual term papers. It’s been quite a while since I’ve done time as a technical writer. Hopefully, that’s to our mutual advantage. It’s definitely time to employ the KISS method – “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”

Throwaway Ticket Service - The Business that works while you sleep

WORKING ON SPEED – BACKGROUND 

I’m not going to get into Download and Upload speed enhancements right now. I’m going to address a way to speed up your “surfing” and saving time in getting to that website you’re so very eager to visit. Last week, I touched on the topic at the end of the article (at about word #1537!). You’ve had time to guess and digest. Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty.

webnameAll of those websites out there waiting for your visit have a name, or so it appears. In reality, they have two names. The name you’re most familiar with is an alphanumeric name. For example, this magazine (LiP)  is listed as “liveinthephilippines.com.” Entering that name in your browser will get you here. But, that’s half of the story.

Being digital, and for the most part binary, the Internet works on 1’s and 0’s. You can just imagine how long a binary number expressing that alphanumeric name would be. In their wisdom, the early developers created an index system to alleviate that monstrously long number into a much IPsshorter one, saving processing time, bandwidth, and sacrifices in speed. They called it the “IP Address” (Internet Protocol Address), or simply IP.

An IP is a decimal number, having a maximum of 12 digits, broken into 4 groups of up to 3 digits each, separated by a “dot” (.). The largest number in one of those 3-digit groups is 255. Example:  216.239.51.99 (which is one of the IPs belonging to Google.com). As you can imagine, an IP is easily indexed and searchable. It’s binary equivalent is much easier for networks to process. Not so for humans who live outside of “Geeks-ville,” however. Sure, you could get to a website very quickly by entering that website’s IP in your browser, but who can remember all those digits for all those websites?

ENTER THE DNS SERVER 

DNS (Domain Name System) servers are your IP index memory. The name you enter in your browser travels to a DNS server where the index is searched for the corresponding IP and, once it’s found, you’re directed to the website owning that IP. Pretty neat, huh? That’s a simple explanation of what really happens. The complexity is for someone else to cover.

dns serverWhether or not you see them, there are potential pitfalls with this system. Infrequent index updating is one. Incorrect index information is another. There are also some not-so-nice issues, too, such as being directed to an undesirable website if and when an error occurs. Entering a misspelled website name in your browser should result in an error message. Some DNS server operators purposefully rig the server to send you somewhere else, usually to a website that will pay a commission to the DNS operator for sending visitors that website.

Now, let’s stop and think for a moment in terms of surfing speed. By adding the DNS server into your quest for that desired website, you use additional processing time. If the DNS server is linked to another for improved IP searching and name recognition, there goes more time. If you happen across one of the pitfalls, that’s even more. If the DNS server routes you via Timbuktu,… well, you get my drift. Worst case scenario:  you are connected with a website that, in addition to uploading pretty pictures on your screen, uploads some harmful stuff like a virus or malware into your computer.

WHAT CAN I DO? 

As you might have guessed, prevention is the only way to fight off slower surfing speeds and potential evil problems. You need to access DNS servers that are totally reliable, up-to-date, well-maintained, and fast. How do you do that? You do that by finding the IP addresses of those types of DNS servers and use them as your preferred and alternate DNS servers.404

When setting up your computer’s (or router’s) network connections, you can configure the Internet Protocol (TPC) properties for using specific DNS server addresses. Most computers come out of the box with the default setting to obtain those addresses automatically from your Internet provider. That is a crap shoot. Configure your IP TPC for reliable and fast DNS servers manually. You’ll see the difference.

“Okay, Paul, we can do that, but how do we find the IP addresses for those fast, reliable DNS servers?” Yes, I can hear your pleas as I type. Now comes some magic and some not so well-known information. We’re going to find those IP addresses.

DNS OF YOUR DREAMS

You’ll have to trust me on this – it’s all legit.  Every bit of it.

You have a friend out there who wants to help you with this problem. His name is Steve Gibson, and he is the founder, owner and operator of Gibson Research Corporation. Among many other endeavors and credits to his professional acumen, he desires to help you find those fast, reliable DNS server IP addresses so that you, too, can whiz on through the Internet with fewer problems and greater surfing speed.

grc-iconSteve Gibson created “DNS Benchmark.” Here’s his description:  A unique, comprehensive, accurate & free Windows (and Linux/Wine) utility to determine the exact performance of local and remote DNS nameservers . . .  And, so right he is. This utility will identify “dead” DNS servers (you know the ones – your computer hangs up for a while waiting for a response that never comes from one of these), “redirecting” DNS servers (the ones that push you off to somewhere else instead of reporting an error), and which DNS servers are, from your location, the fastest available to use.

Did I mention that he does this and everything else he does and provides for FREE? Yes, the utility is free for you to download and use. Just visit the DNS Benchmark page at the Gibson Research Corporation website and start reading! Oh yes, you can download the utility, too, but wouldn’t you like to know a little bit more about what it is you’re going to do? Of course you do!

There are a couple of routines I’ve run using this utility. The first took about 37 minutes – it was downloading information about all of the DNS servers within the region and running the benchmark test with all of those servers. It’s quite comprehensive. After all of my benchmarking and testing was completed, I identified the top three DNS servers for my use and entered their IP addresses into my router. Wow! What a difference.

Another test you may wish to run is the “DNS Spoofability Test.” You’ll find out how reliable your selected DNS servers really are. Another FREE service! (All of this and other utilities and services are offered for free because the “GRC” offers and sells high-end PC industry software. His love and passion, however, is for his developments that he offers for free to us.) Try it and let me know how things work out for you!

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PaulK

Paul is a CPA and a retired tax accountant, having served companies and corporations of all sizes, as well as individuals, in public accounting practices. Prior to what he refers to as his "real job," he served a 24-year career in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a Master Chief Petty Officer. It was during this career that he met and married his OFW spouse of 40+ years, Emy, while stationed in London, UK. (Though he pleaded for the assignment, Paul never received orders to the Philippines.) A "Phil-phile" from an early age, Paul remembers his first introduction to the Philippines in the primary grades of a parochial elementary school where, one week each year, children donated their pennies to purchase school supplies, food and other necessities for Filipino children in need. That love for Filipinos continues to this day. Calling Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte--in the far northwestern part of Luzon--home (just about as far away from Davao as one can be while still being on one of the major islands) Paul prefers a more relaxed provincial life style, and willingly shares a different view of the Philippines from "up north"!

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Axel
8 years ago

Thank you for the link. I have used Googles DNS for a long time, it works fine, but surely i will try this test and see if there’s something better. I know the importance of DNS servers 🙂

Axel
8 years ago
Reply to  Axel

Note: The test showed me that my first choice: Google,,,was one of the best, so i stick to that. Thank you anyway…good information

Paul
Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Axel

Hi Axel – You’re most welcome! That link to Gibson Research Corporation opens a lot of doors that the casual computer user / internet surfer doesn’t know exist. Make sure you run the 37-minute routine to build your custom nameserver list to make sure you have the best DNS servers in your region identified. Google’s DNS servers are available for every region of the world and a few are not that good. I’m glad the one you are with is one of the good ones. Run that routine about monthly. The list used for benchmarking and building your custom list… Read more »

Larry Saum
Larry Saum
8 years ago

I use a AT&T DSL modem on-line, and have been mostly using Internet Explorer. I never learned much about the details reguarding DNS servers, but wonder if that is part of the reason that when I started using a Firefox browser, it worked somewhat faster. Could different browsers address different DNS servers without our knowing anything about it?
It feels funny to be ignorant about this since I worked with computers on US military projects when I was working. I guess I chalk it up to being mostly a hardware design guy and not very versed in software.

Paul
Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Larry Saum

Hi Larry – Don’t feel bad about former career traits not carrying very well into the future. Mine have found a roadblock somewhere along the path, and haven’t really kept up with me, either! 😆 Different browsers exhibit different speeds with regard to internet usage. The reason is the browser’s operating routines themselves, and not DNS server selection. Firefox is normally faster than Internet Explorer but Firefox can slow down if too many plug-ins and applications are used with the browser. Same goes for all browsers. The bare-bones browser is fast. With plug-ins and applications being added, the speed slows… Read more »

Rick Lowe
8 years ago

Remember that for those of you on a DSL or 3g/4g connection here, the gateway DNS IP used by your provider in the Philippines often is the cause of your woes. When your request comes out of your browser, it goes first to your internet service provider. On a mobile connection, not much help, on a laptop, you can indeed change things in your internet settings. Based on personal experience and work with the carriers here, they tend to do work at late night and on weekends. When they do, they restart their DNS systems and the IP address you… Read more »

Paul
Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  Rick Lowe

Hi Rick – Thanks for the helpful comment; plenty of excellent information backed up by personal experience.is always most welcome! I’ve found through my experiences that DNS servers within the Philippines take a back seat to those outside of the country. Running DNS Benchmark has shown me that the “Big 2” have a couple of IP addresses associated with DNS servers that will provide a connection but will not provide a response to inquiries – “dead” DNS servers. Also, my best – fastest and most reliable – DNS servers are currently ones located in Hong Kong. I have my primary… Read more »

AJ UK
AJ UK
8 years ago

Paul

I started following your method but noticed the download for the DNS thingy was for a Windows computer. Maybe I read it wrong?

Anyway, for those on OSX systems, you can use this –

https://code.google.com/p/namebench/downloads/detail?name=namebench-1.3.1-Mac_OS_X.dmg

Cheers

AJ UK

Paul
Paul
8 years ago
Reply to  AJ UK

Thanks, AJ – Yes, I do believe it is for Windows 😉 Thanks for the link to cover OS X.

Steve Gibson codes his programs in Assembly language and turns it into a machine executable program with an assembler. Chances are that it’s not so much the operating system as it is the difference in architectures that’s the stumbling block here! 🙂

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