I’m going to date myself but bear with me. When I was a kid, long before the age of always on internet service providers, I would get up extra early before going to school to use my 2400 baud modem to connect to Bulletin Board Systems. Two important things to bear in mind here — one of them being that only one person could be using the system at once — hence why I would get up so early. The other thing was that everything was incredibly slow.

Even though most everything that was being transmitted was text, it still took a long time to get things loaded. When dial-up Internet Service Providers came out and modems got faster and faster, it was fantastic. In 1998, my family moved into an area where cable modem service was available and we went from a 56K connection to an always on broadband connection. No longer did the phone line need to be tied up to get online.

Over the years, hardware has improved internet connection speed but in many ways there were still some times when downloads would drag out of nowhere. It turns out that this frequently has to do with the actual geographic distance between where you are and where your data is at the time of the request. The further the distance between you and your data, the longer it takes to get to you. It’s a bit like if I asked you to get a book from a bookstore and instead of going to the bookstore next door, you chose to drive across the country to your favorite bookstore. Same book, far longer to get it. How can you optimize the choice of data to get the closest copy of the data you want?

Thanks to Google and OpenDNS, it is just a matter of using the right DNS server — and everything else is done for you on the backend — and changing your DNS server to Google’s Public DNS server couldn’t be easier if you follow their instructions.

How does this all work?

Basically, when your browser makes a DNS request, the DNS server will now forward the first three octets (123.45.67) of your IP address to the target web service. The first three octets provide more than enough data to divine the country you are surfing from, and sometimes even your city. The web service then uses your geolocation data to make sure that the resource you’ve requested — a website, a YouTube video, a file download — is delivered by a local cache.

Since one of Google’s major points of philosophy is that fast is better than slow it goes along with what they believe quite well. If you are ready for faster speeds online, be ready — and make sure you are taking advantage of an excellent free public DNS server!

6 Comments

  1. I resemble this post ! My first days were spent chattingon Compuserve via a 2400 baud modem ….. the telephone bills were horrendous ……… our only service was via them. Thank heavens things have changed ….. I could have been bankrupt by now.