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Best 6 free DNS services 2016

John E Dunn | Jan. 4, 2016
Users don't have to stick to default DNS services – alternatives have advantages

Comodo Secure DNS. Rather like Google in that there is no configuration - using the service is simply a matter of switching to the services primary and backup servers on 8.26.56.26 and 8.20.247.20.

DNS.Watch. Available on 84.200.69.80 and 84.200.70.40, DNS.Watch is almost unique in offering an alternative DNS service without the website logging found on most others. We quote: "We're not interested in shady deals with your data. You own it. We're not a big corporation and don't have to participate in shady deals. We're not running any ad network or anything else where your DNS queries could be of interest for us."

VeriSign Public DNS. Not to be outdone, VeriSign recently started offering public servers on 64.6.64.6 and 64.6.65.6. Interestingly, the company made a big point is saying it would not collect data on users of the service, a sign that privacy is starting to become something companies believe they can market themselves on. What VeriSign gets from this setup is intelligence on the sorts of malicious sites real users attempt to visit.

It is important to remember that there is probably no single DNS service that will do the job for everyone. The one that delivers the best performance for one company or individual might not do so for someone else. This is why it is important to run some tests.

Top 6 free DNS services 2016 - DNS performance tools

But how does one know whether a particular DNS server is fast, slow or perfectly normal? And how can this be assessed independent of other web infrastructure?

In theory, a crude method is simply to compare the speed of response when visiting a domain (i.e. computerworlduk.com) with the same action using the underlying IP address (in this case, 94.236.53.3). Unfortunately, most websites - including this magazine's - use something called shared hosting which means that the IP address is not enough on its own to reach a site because several share the same address.

There are manual ways around this but the better solution is to gain insight using a dedicated tool, of which there are several free ones to choose form. All run on Windows, most on Linux and a few on Mac.

GRC DNS Benchmark

Authored by programmer Steve Gibson, this assembler utility requires no installation and has the helpful feature of making recommendations after it has run its tests. By default, it tests against a generic list that is skewed towards larger North American DNS providers, which isn't to say that these aren't the best to use. Alternatively, users can give it around half an hour to build a custom list from a database of nearly 5,000 global servers which will include lesser-known servers that are geographically nearer to individual users.

 

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