If you have a home or office network you have probably noticed that on occasion a webpage will load slowly or you may even get a time-out message in your browser. Sometimes this may be caused by an overload of internet traffic on a particularly busy server, but other times it is most likely the result of a poorly configured DNS setting in your router.
If you’re not sure what this is all about, DNS (Domain Name Servers) are servers scattered throughout the world whose job it is to translate human readable domain addresses into machine readable addresses. In the early days of the internet, to reach google.com you would have to type 220.127.116.11 into the address window of the browser. Every website had its own particular address, and they still do. Web servers, the computers where webpages are stored and “served” to you and I, cannot understand words, only numbers. Web servers have no idea what yahoo.com means, but they know where 18.104.22.168 is. You can prove this by typing 22.214.171.124 into the address window of your browser. Domain Name Servers take 126.96.36.199 and translate that into yahoo.com strictly for the benefit of us humans. Comodo explains the purpose and functionality of DNS well here.
In a router there’s a setting for DNS. Usually the default settings will be those of your ISP (Internet Service Provider) like Cox or AT&T, but they may also be whatever default DNS addresses the manufacturer chooses to use.
Whenever you click a link or type an address into a browser, the first stop for that electronic packet is a DNS server (I know, that’s redundant). The server will translate the typed address into a machine readable one. If that DNS server is too far away from you, you’ll notice the connection is very slow or may even time out. So the ideal situation is to have the DNS listings in your router be servers as close to you as possible. You do not have to use those provided with your router or by your ISP. There are several alternatives, one of which may speed up your browsing because it’s closer to you.
Google has entered the DNS provider ranks with their Public DNS, 188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206. Needless to say this has raised security concerns over Google having access to our searches and web browsing.
To determine which DNS server is fastest at your location may I recommend Steve Gibson’s Domain Name Speed Benchmark.