OpenDNS and paid wireless services.

Why would anyone ever want to use OpenDNS? I just don’t get it? But, there must be a good reason that I’m totally missing.

I stumbled on this post, not sure how.

http://thegongshow.tumblr.com/post/176629519/virgin-america-inflight-wireless

I didn’t know about OpenDNS but it seems like a strange idea; after all, why would someone not use the DNS server that came with their DHCP lease? Seems like a fairly simple idea, over-ride the DNS servers and force the choice to be to use the DNS servers that OpenDNS provides, but why would anyone care to do this on a PC by PC basis? That seems just totally illogical!

And the problem that the author of the blog (above) mentioned is fairly straightforward. PC comes on the Virgin Wireless network, attempts to go to a web page, sends out a connection request for a page (assume that it is from a cache of IP addresses) and receives a HTML redirect to a named page (asking one to cough up money). The HTML redirect mentions the page by name and that name is not cached and results in a DNS lookup which goes to OpenDNS. Those servers (hardcoded into the network configuration) are not accessible because the user has not yet coughed up said money. Conversely, If the initial lookup was not from a cached IP address then the DNS lookup (which would have been sent to OpenDNS) would have not made it very far (OpenDNS’s server is not reachable till you cough up money). One way or the other, the page asking the user to cough up cache would not have showed up.

So, could one really do this OpenDNS thing behind a pay-for-internet-service? Not unless you can add preferred DNS servers to network configuration without a reboot. (the reboot will get the cycle of DHCP request going again, and on the high volume WiFi access services, DHCP request will automatically expire the previous lease).

But, to the more basic issue, why ever would someone enable this on a PC-by-PC basis? I can totally understand a system administrator using this at an enterprise level; potentially using the OpenDNS server instead of the ones that the ISP provided. Sure beats me! And there sure can’t be enough money in showing advertisements on the redirect page for missing URL’s (or there must be a lot of people who fat-finger URL’s a lot more than I do).

And, the functionality of being able to watch my OpenDNS traffic on a dashboard, I just don’t get it. Definitely something to think more about … They sure seem to be a successful operation so there must clearly be some value to the service they offer, to someone.

11 thoughts on “OpenDNS and paid wireless services.”

  1. Well, here’s my reason: Because the DNS servers of the major DSL and Cable providers suck big time. They are way overloaded, and the #1 cause of a slow connection. Of course, it’s not slow at all. It’s just that the DNS bottlenecks the whole browsing experience.

    Obviously I can’t use them when I first need to login to certain networks. But once I am in, I switch back to OpenDNS so that I don’t have to sit there waiting forever for the DNS requests to get processed.

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  2. Yeah, there are all kinds of reasons people use our service. Speed, safety, security, reliability… I do tests when I travel, and have even done it with GoGo on a VA flight and we consistently outperform. 🙂

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  3. Lot of times if it’s a locked down limited network, they will intercept all DNS traffic, so using OpenDNS won’t help (their own default DNS server will reply no matter which DNS server you try to reach).

    But if the DNS traffic is allowed to leave freely (as in most cases), there are many reasons for OpenDNS.

    * First one is same as Martin describes, it’s really fast. You will definitely see a noticeable DNS resolution speed up.
    * They also are very fast at propagating DNS changes, I work with lot of domain names that get updated a lot, and OpenDNS picks them up real quick (they also have a cache refresh system which you can force them to pull the latest info).
    * You can opt-in to or out-of Unresolvable DNS page landings. Some ISPs are notorious for redirecting invalid Domain names to their own pages.

    The best method of a small network is to set the edge router (home router) to use OpenDNS instead of the ISP provided one.

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    1. Janitha, you write that, “Lot of times if it’s a locked down limited network, they will intercept all DNS traffic, so using OpenDNS won’t help (their own default DNS server will reply no matter which DNS server you try to reach)”.

      I guess I don’t understand how that could be. When a machine attempts a DNS lookup, it addresses the packet specifically to the DNS server that it is targeting. Are you suggesting that these “locked down limited networks” will intercept that packet, redirect it to the in-house DNS server and have it respond?

      -amrith

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  4. OpenDNS significantly improves load time on popular websites that use massive CDNs. Sometimes Facebook photos won’t load at all without using it. I do it on a per computer basis because I occasionally need to disable it. (Mac OS X makes this super quick with Locations.)

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  5. In Turkey, many of the blocked sites(almost all but youtube) are just blocked on the DNS servers of all major ISPs. By using OpenDNS, you can access those.

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  6. I started using OpenDNS when I found out that they were actively blocking Conficker traffic. I tried it out and haven’t looked back.

    I had problems with my local ISP being slooooooow and sometimes I would end up on their “Cannot find … page” doing a google search! 2 tries later and google would finally come up. Not one issue with this using OpenDNS.

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  7. I love OpenDNS but I have my router setup to use OpenDNS’ servers (to eliminate the process of setting it up on all machines within my network).

    Automatic typo correction (.cm to .com, in most instances), the ability to request caches be refreshed (so my domains are instantly accessible to me), not to mention the child filtering, malicious site protection, etc.

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  8. I’ve the same issue. My local ISP is notorious for having slow or completely unresponsive DNS servers. Often times the main reason for losing internet connectivity is because the ISP provided DNS server is down, unreachable or not responding.

    I’ve manually configured my router to use OpenDNS, but will do it on a PC-by-PC basis for friends and family who have recurring DNS problems and are on the same ISP.

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