Why Changing DNS Settings Increases Your Internet Speed — (Technology Explained, Week 1)
Dial-up connection methods need no introduction, if you are a 90s kid!
(Yeah, I am talking about those old, slow-poke connection methods)…
And even if you aren’t, you don’t need to bother with them; since technological advancements like fiber connections and broadband have led to lightning fast networks. Even so, there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
Changing the DNS settings is often considered as one of the easiest methods (among many others) to increase your internet speed (and it is a FREE one too!) — but what is DNS and how exactly tweaking it boosts your internet speed?
To answer these questions, I have written both TL;DR and long version. If you already know everything about DNSs and CDNs, then there’s no need to read the long version, except if you have nothing else to do.
Oh! And I’ve already written a blog post explaining how to change DNS on Windows 10.
Google and OpenDNS attach your DNS requests and IP address. This leads to the data being loaded from a server local to you, which improves your overall internet speed.
What is DNS?
Whenever you type a website’s URL (i.e. google.com or technoscans.com) into your browser, it needs to be translated to the site’s respective IP address in order to receive and send data.
That’s where Domain Name System (DNS) comes in. It acts as a digital equivalent of a those old, dusty (but still useful) phonebooks, providing a number (IP Address) for the typed URL.
Let’s say, if you were to enter “technoscans.com” in your browser (which is, as you guessed, my website), the DNS servers will convert that to its IP address — in this case is 188.8.131.52.
With more than a billion websites on the internet, it definitely wouldn’t be practical to maintain a list that huge; or would it be?
So instead, the DNS servers will have already cached the data for a range of different websites. In case, if it wasn’t cached, then the server will ask from another server.
Which makes it “A Matter of Distances”
The infrastructure, which connects the internet, is a series of cables — either optical or are made of copper.
All these cables do is connect the servers around the world, and the data is then carried across them in the form of waves (or electromagnetic waves, to be more precise).
Even though, the speed of these waves is limited to the speed of light and we can’t do a thing to increase this speed limit, but we still can reduce the distances these waves need to travel to keep you connected to the internet.
So, if a DNS server is present far from you, then your internet speed is impacted.
The reality of the internet, however, is much more complex than simple distance calculations.
Google’s Public DNS is one of the most popular DNS server alternatives which makes use of two IP addresses (184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11). These address with multiple servers around the world are responsible for responding to the requests.
The amazing thing is despite responding to your queries from all around the world, it is still ranked as one of the fastest DNS servers.
They have achieved this feat by working with Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to attach DNS requests and location data.
Let’s say if you were to use a Canadian DNS server, then the CDNs would interpret that you are in Canada. This impacts the loading speed by loading content from a server local to you and thus you will see content optimized for Canadian audience.
When you are planning a trip with Google Maps, you are presented with several different options, where some of the routes take less time even if the vehicle has to cover a greater distance.
It is likely due to other factors like traffic, average speed, and many others. The same is the case with DNS server selection which involves a similar range of factors.
Some DNS servers, such as those provided by Internet Service Providers, experience heavy traffic, particularly during peak times. On the other hand, they may have outdated records and may inefficiently route your data.
Moreover, the site you are trying to access might need data from other sites like videos and adverts.
Due to this complex interconnection between servers, users and websites, route optimization plays an integral role in improving the internet speeds.
The Fast and Furious DNS
We are coming to an end of this post, and you can feel it! Right?
The bottom line is that your ISP’s DNS server may be located nearby. They, however, try to use one-size-fits-all approach. This leads to reduced performance as compared to Google Open DNS or OpenDNS.
In fact, you can use Google’s Namebench to test your DNS performance. Moreover, it recommends the best DNS server tailored specifically for you.