Most people who visit websites and browse the internet rely on the default DNS resolvers that their internet providers, provide them with. A DNS resolver is a server that helps your website determine where a website that you want to visit, is. It’s sort of like a phone book in a way, but not exactly.
There are both DNS servers and resolvers (and often, a server will do both, but not always). When you register a domain name, you need to provide Domain Name Server information for the domain, and then that server must be configured with the IP address of the domain, it’s sub domains, and if receiving and sending email, that information including the “MX” or “Mail Exchange” record, and any additional text records.
Without this, your domain name would never be found when someone typed it into their browser URL bar.
In addition, when someone types in your domain name, it needs to query a DNS Resolver in order to look up the information that is located at the DNS Server for your domain. If you have a wireless router from your internet provider, the resolver IP address may be included automatically of your provider, in it’s settings. If you manually set up your wireless router, you were likely provided the IP addresses of your providers DNS resolvers.
You would think that by querying your own ISP’s resolvers might be faster than looking up information outside of your network, but this is not always the case. Often, an ISP’s resolver might be on the same server that also provides web, mail, database, and even their own DNS services. IF they are busy, there can be a delay in doing lookups – it might be a matter of extra milliseconds, but nowadays, every millisecond counts when it comes to website speed.
DNS Resolution & Privacy
There is another issue with using your internet ISP’s DNS resolvers. They may be logging your DNS lookups which means they can know what sites you are visiting (or at least if not you personally, anyone using connected devices from your home or office network). In a world where privacy is of concern, this might concern you!
How To Get Both Speed & Privacy When Browsing Websites
Some years ago, Google introduced to the world its own speedy (and private) DNS resolvers that the public could use for DNS resolution. Other organizations have also done the same, but last year, on April Fool’s Day, 2018, CloudFlare introduced their own resolution service with the IP address of 220.127.116.11 (and promised it was not an April Fool’s joke).
CloudFlare, which has been doing a great job of making the internet faster with their network of Domain Name servers that respond to queries for DNS lookups, decided they create a network of even faster DNS resolvers while also guaranteeing privacy. We have been using their resolvers here in our Orangeville office and are very happy with the speed increases we are seeing, even over Google’s resolvers.
When CloudFlare announced their new DNS resolution service, Nicholas Z of “Medium.com” did some speed tests which showed that CloudFlare was significantly faster in North America than Google’s DNS resolutions services. You can read more about it here (he also has results of tests from other parts of the world as well).
Our Own DNS and Resolvers
For many years, we had our own DNS servers and resolvers in our office, and for a long time, they worked very well. But as internet speeds and demands grew, we knew that we had to make some changes in order to “keep up” with the faster speeds that were being demanded of website visitors, clients, and yes, even search engines (website speed is now a ranking algorithm and has been for about a decade). With that in mind, we migrated most of our clients’ websites over to CloudFlare to reduce crucial milliseconds in domain name resolution (among other speed improvements that we instituted).
We also recommend that our clients, on their own business and home networks, manually update their DNS resolvers for their network to use CloudFlare’s at 18.104.22.168. They also have a second IP for redundancy – 22.214.171.124 (or you could use Google’s primary resolver IP – 126.96.36.199 as your backup).
Happy speedy and private web browsing!