How to use OpenDNS

I briefly mentioned the OpenDNS service in the second part of my series of posts looking at Windows Mobile Applications recently. When used on a Mobile device, I’ve found the service can speed up mobile Web-Browsing quite a bit – just change your existing Mobile ISP settings to use OpenDNS servers instead and see the speed increase immediately – quick and simple!

But what is OpenDNS and indeed, what is DNS?

DNS (or Domain Name System) serves as a “phone book” for many computer networks, including the Internet. It enables us dumb humans to type simple easily remembered names into our computers and so not have to remember lots and lots of sets of numbers instead.

For instance, when you type the address www.richardtubb.co.uk into your web-browser, what the web-browser actually does is check with it’s designated DNS Server (which may either be on your local network if you’re in a office based company, or if you’re using the Internet at home it’s more likely at your Internet Service Provider) to see where that web-site can be found. In this instance, the DNS server would check it’s own records for www.richardtubb.co.uk and if it couldn’t find the details in it’s own records then it would check with another DNS server to query it and find the correct details. Once this process is complete and your DNS Server has the correct details, it passes them back to your computer. Your computer then knows where to look to find the web-site.

In this case, what you type as www.netlink-it.com, the DNS server translates into something your computer can understand and your computer actually uses the number (or “IP address”) 82.165.124.9. Now, which would you prefer to remember – the www bit or the 82.165.124.9 bit? 🙂

So what is OpenDNS? Well it’s a freely provided service that is similar to the standard DNS Servers you will find in your company or ISP, but with some extra features thrown in. We’ve already established it seems to do those DNS lookups a lot faster, especially on Mobile devices, but OpenDNS also adds a welcome level of security. OpenDNS blocks phishing sites, gives you the power to filter out adult sites and provides the ability to block individual domains. What this means in simple terms is that by simply changing your existing DNS settings to use OpenDNS instead – you’ll have much greater protection against accidentally going to dodgy sites trying to steal your Credit Card details, your employees won’t be able to find adult sites as easily, and if you wanted to block “Facebook” or “MySpace” for all employees then that would be easier to do too.

Not too shabby for a free service!

If you’re a client of mine then you’re already using this service so you can feel safer already!

You can find out more about OpenDNS at it’s web-site, www.opendns.org (or 208.67.219.99 for those computers reading this…)

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