OpenDNS is a great idea, well-executed. They took something basic and ubiquitous, DNS, and improved it by adding spell-checking and phishing protection (usability enhancements). They provide the service for free in exchange for monetizing typo search pages. The typo search pages are simple, fast, and generally useful. What I was looking for is usually the first result. There is no software to install, just two settings to change, and they provide a registration-free way to set preferences on their site. John Roberts is a friend from my CNET days and gave me a preview a few days before they launched, I've been using it full-time ever since and it has been invisible in all the right ways.

37 thoughts on “OpenDNS

  1. Gotta disagree. What’s to stop them from calling a typo and loading Or, using an example from one of my old domains, (A heavy metal German band and a domain I used to own before an ICANN review) vs (my old hosting company and the domain I wound up with) and calling it a typo fix. No disrespect meant towards Mr Roberts of course as I do understand what they’re trying to do but seems like I would be putting a whole lot of trust in a company and precedures I know little about.

    *chuckle* I wonder what they would do with Would they send me over to the Texas Department of Justice and Corrections? I get tons of hits for it on my sites.

  2. drmike,

    Good question: What’s to stop them from calling a typo and loading

    Two things will stop that.

    1) On a business level, the simple answer is because “you would stop using us.” Keeping you happy keeps us happy.
    2) We let you enable or disable features. Want phishing protection but not typo protection? Go ahead and set that up here: One of the big things we’re trying to do is change DNS from being a firehose that people are forced to keep open and in its place put something that allows you to manage the DNS on your network, computer, access point, etc.

    On top of that, we focus on DNS. It’s what I’ve been doing for years. My goal is make it as reliable and awesome for you as possible. Some of you know me from which people use to manage your their domain names already.


  3. “What’s to stop them from calling a typo and loading”

    Easy: people would stop using their service if they did that, since it would take approximately 30 seconds to change their settings back, and they’d go out of business. That’s what stops them.

  4. This is a very geeky, US only solution. The key to their success will be a solution that hosting providers are interesting in deploying.

    With Firefox or Flock, typing words in the address bar and the implicit Google’s “I’m feeling lucky” will get you good results often with less typing than OpenDNS’s tyop correct. The phishing feature is novel but also coming in Firefox 2.0 . Maintaining phishing lists can be expensive if you don’t have access to the kind of data that Google has.

  5. DrMike:
    So far as I would understand it, the typo killer only happens when a domain fails to resolve.
    Active domain results are returned, PERIOD.

    Note though, I haven’t tried it out, so I don’t know.
    I look forward to starting it soon, however.

  6. Great post, Matt. I’ve been hearing about OpenDNS but never really bothered to find out what it really does. Thanks for the super-short summary (it sold me–I’m using OpenDNS right now :)).

  7. A preliminary test didn’t show any improvement in speed at all… sorry to say it was slower for most pages. However, on a second machine there was slight improvement, but not enough to do the Snoopy Happy Dance. I will have to set up some production machines with the DNS to really give it a workout.

    Nice idea, I hope it works well in long run. I’d use it often if it does.

  8. I meant to write “The key to their success will be a solution that *ISP* are interesting in deploying.” Been dealing with my own hosting issues.

    Hi David,

    I don’t think that because Google asks you that they don’t have good data. My experience in my short time that I chose to work in this area for an established malware desktop client — didn’t appeal to me — was the more data you have the better. It is a very stressful area both when positives are missed and false positives are made. Google has multiple avenues of good data:
    * web spidering
    * email
    * ISP

    I think you have a good opportunity in a short term niche, and the opportunity to make it much more.

    All the best,

  9. I love how folks are rating DNS reply times as browser rendering speeds.

    Guys: switching to a new DNS server is only going to speed up *how long it takes for your computer to look up the IP address of a site.* And thats only on a) the first time you go to a site, or b) going back to a site that you haven’t been to in a while and so is not still in your local cache.

    DNS servers won’t ‘speed up’ the way your browser renders a page, the most they’ll do is speed up how long your machine takes to find a page. And that’s only on a new site. The rest of the time (say, going to your machine is getting the IP from it’s local cache. You only notice a slow DNS server when you go to a page you’ve never been to, or haven’t been to in a while, and it can’t find the page for a few seconds or times out before it resolves the IP.

    The truly useful features of OpenDNS are the features mentioned above: phishing protection and typo correction. I love how resolves to now (a common typo with my fists of ham.)

  10. What if a user, with OpenDNS installed, types in “” and presses enter.

    Will OpenDNS resolve to “” or “”?

    How does OpenDNS correctly figure when the user wants to go, in such situations?

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  12. I do like the theory that goes behind OpenDNS. I believe it is a great idea for anyone that uses the internet and wants to avoid all kinds of phishing scams. My issue is that what if someone edits the DNS entries in OpenDNS and changes something like scottrade and etrade to phishing sites. Without some assurance from a 3rd party security firm, i dunno if i can trust using it for private secure transactions.