Short of being a network geek, you probably haven’t ever considered toying with the DNS settings in yout Network Preference Pane. But OpenDNS has given everyone a reason to take another look.
DNS stands for Domain Name System, and it’s employed all over our beloved Internets. As a quickie explanation for those who don’t already know, it goes something like this:
Each website you visit is – at it’s most basic level – identified by an IP address. DNS servers make it possible to link that IP address to a more easily remembered address such as theappleblog.com.
Ok, so that’s basically it. There are default DNS servers that our computers and the wireless routers that we may be using in our homes use. But if you go into the TCP/IP tab of your Network Preferences Pane, you may see that you can optionally add different DNS servers that your system may default to. This is where OpenDNS comes into play.
Sign yourself up for a free account and run through their extremely simple (OS X specific) setup procedure and you’re ready to rock. Ok, so you’re probably asking why you’d switch to this optional OpenDNS for your settings when the defaults has clearly worked without any issue. Fair enough. From their website:
OpenDNS is safer
OpenDNS is faster
OpenDNS is smarter
OpenDNS is more reliable
Ummmm, so what…?
Well by “safer” they mean that they provide an extra layer of Phishing protection, which prevents the bad guys from fooling you into thinking they’re ebay, when they’re really not.
By “faster” they’re referring to their larger than normal internet caches running on their own, high speed network. They use MySpace as an example of loading much faster once you move to their dns servers…
By “smarter” they mean that you can add keywords (and then some) to domain names you visit frequently.
And by “more reliable”, well, I think that’s just market-speak personally.
But the most interesting part is the way you can add keywords to domains you visit on a regular basis. You may be thinking that you can already do that in your browser’s bookmarking system. True enough, but doing it through OpenDNS allows you to set it once and then use those keywords in whichever browser you’re using this week – you won’t have to go and re-setup those keywords in each place. Better yet, you can add the OpenDNS settings to your wireless router and have those keywords available in any browser on any computer within your network. Sweeeet.
And then how about one step further with keywords? You can even add parameters to your keywords. So the most obvious might be Google. If you create a keyword for Google.com, of say, ‘g’, you can then assign it to accept parameters so that ‘g theappleblog’ will bring up this page.
I’ve only just started playing with OpenDNS, but it’s clearly got some interesting things to offer. It’s free, and the instructions are very simple to follow. If this stuff sounds interesting, I suggest you give it a try for yourself.