Monday, September 10, 2007

Verizon, DNS, "OpenDNS"

We connect to the Internet via Verizon DSL. Recently, say, in August, we've gone “offline” a lot. Sometimes I thought I had to restart our router and modem, sometimes the service just came back by itself. The problem: we seemed to be connected, but our browser “couldn't find” any websites. At last it occurred to me that the problem might lie in Verizon's DNS servers, or “name servers.” The job of these computer systems is to translate site names like www.yahoo.com or www.whatever.tv into numeric addresses like 1.101.222.76. If your computer has the numeric address, it can send an Internet message. Almost every time you enter, or click on, a named website, a “name server” is asked to translate that name into its number.

There's a free name server called OpenDNS that anyone can use. I modified our router to use it instead of the Verizon name servers, and we've had no “offline” troubles ever since. Coincidence? Hmmmm...

I just did a little web searching, and it seems that other people are complaining about Verizon's name servers. The issue is particularly poignant for Verizon FIOS users, who may not be able to tell their Verizon routers to switch name servers.
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