I first discovered OpenDNS on Chris Pirillio's blog – OpenDNS is a free service that is designed to make your Internet browsing faster, safer and smarter. And guess what - it does that. OpenDNS is essentially a set of massive distributed DNS caches that allow faster name resolution and yet obey the TTL rules for each domain. They have a very fast geographically distributed network of DNS caches that allow for blazingly fast lookup times which allows for faster connections to those sites. The traditional ISP DNS lookup connects to one of the root name servers which in turn send you to the name server for the top-level domain which will then probably get you to the name-server that is hosting the DNS entry for the site you are trying to connect to. OpenDNS skips all of that and return the IP address of the site you are attempting a connection two in a single request.
The safer surfing part comes into play with the phishing filter built into OpenDNS. OpenDNS intercepts connections against known phishing sites, based on network analysis and feeds from other network operators including their new venture PhishTank. PhishTank is a community anti-phishing Web site where anyone can go to submit suspected phishes, track the status of their submissions and help verify others submissions.
The smarter bit comes in the typo-correction feature of OpenDNS. So if you're going to google.com and misspell Google, OpenDNS first attempts to correct the typo and get you to the right site instead of the squatter sites that are just waiting for that misspelling to land you on their site.
I have been using OpenDNS for months now since I first read Chris's blog entry about OpenDNS and have been extremely happy with the free service. Can't beat the price – I can't really tell if my surfing is any faster but cognitively I know it is and that makes me happy. 🙂
Another thing that really stands out about OpenDNS is the service - I've had two occasions where I've contacted support to check on some DNS changes I made to move my domains from one hosting vendor to another and I got an almost immediate response both times. John Roberts, who is the VP of Product Development responded back in minutes to my query on both occasions and helped me by force clearing the cached entries for my domain.
Anyone and everyone can start using OpenDNS to surf smarter, faster and safer. Check out their Getting Started page for more information on how to change your router or computer DNS settings to start using OpenDNS.