Find a Fast DNS Server with NameBench

Feb 23, 2010 - 9 Comments

fast dns server

There’s no shortage of DNS Server options out there, with Google DNS, OpenDNS, your own ISP’s, and the gazillion of others available to use. The question remains though, which of these DNS servers is going to be fastest for you? And how do you know which is fastest? That’s where NameBench comes in.

NameBench is a free application that will run a set of benchmarks based on your web browsing history and tcpdump, and will report back the fastest domain name server(s) for you to use. In some cases, switching to the suggested domain name server can be a considerably speed increase, with noticeably faster page loads, making this a very worthwhile tool to try. It’ll run in Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux, but of course we’re focusing on the Mac here.

Using NameBench to Find a Faster DNS Server

It’s free, super easy to use, and only takes a moment to run, check it out for yourself:

  • Get Namebench from the project home page
  • Launch NameBench, enter your existing name servers (which is often just your wi-fi routers IP or firewall), then click the “Start Benchmark” button and let it run

find fast dns server

Results will come in fairly quickly and will look like this:

fast dns server

Don’t be surprised if Google’s public DNS server is the fastest, it’s reliably speedy for almost everywhere in the USA. Everything is benchmarked against your current DNS settings, and you’ll get a “percent faster” report telling you how much quicker the found alternatives are.

If you find a faster DNS server available, and chances are good that you will, just pop them into your Network settings to see how they go… head over to  Apple menu > System Preference > Network > Advanced > DNS > and add your new servers.

That’s all there is to it, enjoy your faster internet and web browsing. Pretty great, it works!

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in Mac OS X, Tips & Tricks, Utilities


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  1. For me, this is the best tip so far this year. I use OpenDNS but I have wanted to know for a while whether that was the best option for me.

  2. too says:

    took from macupdate comments,very interesting but also could be or not be to be true..:

    I’d say that this thing is treacherous. If you value your privacy, i.e, want to keep your browsing history away from prying eyes, then don’t use ‘namebench’.

    I ran namebench and on the resulting readout I viewed the query details and it listed literally hundreds of the websites that I’ve been to and, of course, it’s got one’s IP address, too.

    So some entity has all this info about one’s browsing habits. Which entity? Oh, that scum sucking information vampire Google, without doubt. And there have got to be other such information vampires out there as well. On the developer’s website it states

    “This project began as a 20% project at Google”. So, Google is still associated with this project, no?

    And, I’d imagine, namebench’s developer has access to the info gotten from namebench’s users. What, then, does the developer do with the info?

    Apparently, one’s browsing history and their website IPs are retained somewhere, most likely at the internet server that one is using.

    On namebench’s UI, under ‘Benchmark Data Source’ one chooses from a couple of one’s browsers or something called ‘Alexa Top Global Domains’. The benchmark data is then collected from one of these sources.

    Anyway, think twice, or even thrice, before using ‘namebench’.

  3. Nago says:

    I found out about this a while ago and I tell you, it works wonders!
    Has made my surfing way faster!

  4. @too: If you don’t want namebench to use your browser history, simply use the “Benchmark Data Source” dropdown and select the Alexa 10,000 dataset. The results are not as accurate, but it’s great for the paranoid.

    If you look at the source code to namebench, you will see that it does not send data to anywhere other than the selected nameservers. No information is stored.

    As with all DNS servers, including your ISP’s, it is likely that they may be doing some short term query log storage. While I cannot speak for your ISP, who would see your DNS queries anyways, Google delete’s their query logs within 48 hours (and does not correlate your logs with any other sources:

    In any case, be on the lookout for namebench 1.2 coming out in the next week, which is twice as fast.

  5. too says:

    I just wish that they are respecting what they said in that faq(Google delete’s their query logs within 48 hours (and does not correlate your logs with any other sources)…but i doubt.Anyway i got the google dns and it is much faster than my isp.

  6. mHut says:

    Problem DNS speed solved with NameBench, thanks for great share.

  7. […] with the last being a local router. If you need to, you can use a free utility like namebench to find a fast DNS server. stLight.options({ publisher:'fe5e0a84-1fac-40de-8014-9f89fc1cbe6a' […]

  8. […] the best results, use a tool in Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux like NameBench, a free utility to help find the fastest DNS server for your geographical location. Here are two choices that are typically very fast and […]

  9. […] ( or, but for the best results you’ll want to follow the full process to find the fastest DNS […]

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