Google Public DNS or OpenDNS?

Disclaimer: one of my brothers works for Google, I like Google and I hope they are wildly successful.

Google announced that they are offering a fast, highly available, and secure public DNS. It’s not a TLD registrar like Verisign but it’s supposed to be fast. I’ve been using it for a couple of hours and the name resolution is zippy.

It’s not OpenDNS and I don’t think it’s intended to be.  OpenDNS has about the same things only it also provides you with an account and a dashboard where you can set options such as filtering.  OpenDNS is a developed service and it’s well thought out and implemented. You can read on their blog some thoughts from OpenDNS on this new development.

That all said, I think mixing the words “Google” and “DNS” will be bad for OpenDNS. They probably have competition but I can’t think of one.  The OpenDNS is free and many people use it. Google’s public DNS is only a resolver and has no features. Now it looks like Google has entered that area and I think it will be successful and more people will move over to it.

I took 100 unique DNS names from my web proxy log (squid proxy, don’t you run one at home too?) and ran a simple command

dig hostname @

The output contains a line like this

;; Query time: 21 msec

I ran those 100 dig commands and added up all the query time milliseconds and came up with 7550 milliseconds or 7.5 seconds for using Google.

The OpenDNS server IP address with the same exact queries and took 1347 milliseconds while FIOS’s (my cable mode that forwards to the real DNS IPs) ran for a total of 1668 milliseconds.

That’s not really a comprehensive test but it looks like OpenDNS is faster for now and it is very feature rich. But this should be interesting to see how this plays out since Google aims to have their solutions work best.

6 thoughts on “Google Public DNS or OpenDNS?

  1. There are many reasons to use OpenDNS, mainly for control.
    There are two reasons to use your ISP DNS:
    1- ease: it’s there by default
    2- speed
    Indeed the real speed comes from the cache for at least 90% of what we do. And then time to gets from your Pc to the cache. By design, nobody’s cache is closer to you than your ISPs…
    I can’t see any reason to use google’s DNS other than the IP is easy to remember and your VPN doesn’t work in some hotel room…

    1. I think OpenDNS as a product is currently a better offering.

      I also think that Google’s name recognition will make up for the lack of feature set with end users. OpenDNS is known by the more technically savvy crowd but lacks real name recognition.

      For someone having perceived DNS problems, Google’s public DNS will be a knee jerk reaction even though OpenDNS is functionally and feature set better.

      Should be fun to see what develops. Competition in any market is usually good for consumers and end users.

  2. Google DNS is another way for Google to cache information on all of its users and their web patterns.

    OpenDNS is actually very popular in the education arena, a lot of school districts are using them as a cheap web filter to block unwanted sites.

    Too bad OpenDNS currently limits you to 25 domains in the custom blacklist or whitelist.

    OpenDNS currently works as a good filter to block my kids from accidentally going to the wrong type of sites.

    1. I don’t think Google is doing this for purely altruistic reasons. Providing DNS is one way to accurately track what websites you are going to.

      One thing that Google really excels at is collecting data and figuring out how to use that data.

      At some point I’ll need to work on ways to block what my kids are seeing on the Internet. OpenDNS is a good and quick solution to that. For now, the kids can only use the PCs with an adult near by.

  3. I tried Google Public DNS and its fast
    My report shows almost 50% less latency but when I changed name server for one of domain
    it took time to reflect that changes on my local PC and as soon as I changed it to Open DNS
    I can see name server change

    1. It’s weird: using dig I can see that the response time is not as good as OpenDNS. But the experience browsing to websites is definitely more responsive.

      I’d really like to see a technical write up on what Google does to improve the browsing experience.

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