Need for Speed : Google Pwns OpenDNS with its own DNS

by Karthik on December 4, 2009 · 8 comments

Google DNS

Google seems to be getting everywhere. They are there in just about every corner of our online life, and now they have taken a step further by launching Google Public DNS. Google Public DNS aims at making the web faster for you, by using a high speed, public DNS server. Here’s what DNS does in simple words :

Say you type in the Wikipedia.org in your browser window. The DNS then converts the URL you typed into machine readable IP address and returns it to you. Only after the actual IP of the website is determined does the webpage begin loading for you.

OpenDNS has long since been considered the pioneer in the making the web faster by giving users a free, fast public DNS server with servers spread around the globe to reduce latency.

I’ve been using OpenDNS for the past two years for my needs, and needless to say the experience has been quite good. Not to forget the increase in speed while browsing the web. But today with the release of Google’s own DNS solution I was curious to see if it could beat the already fast service that OpenDNS provides.

So I ran my own tests sitting here in India, using this script by Manu over at TechSutra.

#!/bin/sh��
for i in "lifehacker.com" "facebook.com" "dailyapps.net"  "reddit.com" "google.com" "bbc.co.uk" "microsoft.com" "yahoo.com" "ebay.com"
do
  for j in "4.2.2.2" "8.8.4.4" "208.67.222.222"
  do
    echo $j $i `dig @$j $i | grep Query | awk -F ":" '{print $2}'`
  done
done

And here are my results :

graph

As you can see Google DNS consistently was atleast two times faster than OpenDNS and even more faster than Level 3. Those of you in the U.S I believe shouldn’t see much performance difference between Google and Level 3.

For me personally, Google was always in the range 90-110ms while OpenDNS was in the 200-210ms range. A Significant performance boost I must say.

Is Performance a tradeoff for Privacy?

Hmm it depends on how you look at it. Surely Google has a lot of information about you, and a DNS server will only allow them to gather more data about you. They could in theory gather information about all the websites you visit. Sounds like Big Brother ain’t it, except that Google makes it explicitly clear that ‘Collected data includes IP address (up to 48 hours, to detect malicious behavior against the service), ISP information and geographic information (2 weeks each). The data is not correlated with your Google account in any way’

For more on what they log while using their DNS service, read the Google Public DNS Privacy Policy.

So as things stand at the moment you don’t have to worry about Privacy Issues. But OpenDNS founder David Ulevitch seems to have other concerns :

‘Google claims that this service is better because it has no ads or redirection. But you have to remember they are also the largest advertising and redirection company on the Internet.

To think that Google’s DNS service is for the benefit of the Internet would be naive. They know there is value in controlling more of your Internet experience and I would expect them to explore that fully. And of course, we always have protected user privacy and have never sold our DNS data.’

At the end of the day, its pure competition. Google has been entering a lot of verticals lately, in their quest to make the web a better place for everyone. They’ve a long way to go, before they can achieve their goals.

What does this mean for OpenDNS? Well guys, you’ve had the free run for the past three years, now you got to make OpenDNS even more faster. Competition is always a wake up call.

So are you willing to give Google DNS a shot? Google has a handy guide for you to get started.

Google Public DNS (via Google Code Blog) | Photo Credit : jpctalbot

See more from: Web

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

evolutioncoder December 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Is Google turning into God?
Good comparison would love to know about security issues

Reply

Karthik Kastury December 5, 2009 at 4:42 am

Google is not turning into God in my opinion.. They are simply pushing hard for a faster and better web. I fully advocate their plans, and Google Public DNS Privacy policy explicitly states that no data is tied with your Google Account..

So there you go.. No real privacy issues with Google DNS.

Reply

Piesaucee December 7, 2009 at 11:43 am

And thankfully, when you type a domain name that doesn't exist , Google doesn't show an error page with ads on it , unlike OpenDNS. Great post, BTW.

Reply

Dans Kursu December 20, 2009 at 2:20 am

the world can not be a great company like google

Reply

justaguest February 8, 2010 at 4:00 am

I can't believe that anything good (in the long run) can come from giving google more tracking data points. You search google, on your google phone using google dns, while google checkout, google docs and gmail have access to your finance, business and personal info.
This isn't tin foil hat stuff, this is wondering about the security of letting one company have that much info on so many people. Forget google, or any of its business partners using your data nefariously, do you think that they will drop you note in gmail when they have a data breach? Ask the last 10 (reported) credit card processors that were breached how quickly they notified each of their 100,000+ customers about all of the data that was stolen.

Reply

Mickey TheMagnificent Ronen August 21, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I rather wait 200ms than giving someone I dont know my personal data…

Reply

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