My Internet service provider (ISP) was having issues with its DNS servers today and I was not able to surf the web. A quick ping test revealed my Internet connection was fine. I was able to send and receive packets.
Using my cell phone to look for public DNS servers, I found Google's free public DNS services and changed my settings to 18.104.22.168 and 22.214.171.124 and I was surfing in no time. This quick article will hopefully give you some tips on how I did it, in case you ever want to fix the problem yourself OR you want to have a faster web experience by not waiting on your ISP.
What in the world does your ISP's DNS servers have to do with Internet surfing?
DNS servers in layman's terms are like phone directories or front desk secretaries, or for my U.S. friends, it's like dialing 411 for information. Anytime you want to "call up" a web site, the DNS servers maps out your Internet request to the correct location. By doing so, when you type in your favorite web site, the DNS servers "connect" you and that web site.
Simple enough concept right? No front desk secretary means your visitors are going to be being lost. No switchboard or phone directory means you can't connect to the person you are trying to reach.
The Google solution
I used my cell phone to look for safe, and free public DNS servers. There's a few options out there, UltraDNS.com and OpenDNS.com are good examples. However, I saw an interesting trustworthy name that popped up in my search results: Google.
What in the world? Google is offering free DNS services? Why would they carry this expense?
Well, their Google DNS site explained their strategy. DNS lookup is part of the browsing experience. Anytime the ISP's DNS servers are slow or out, it hurts their business.
To alleviate the problem, they are going to help by providing free, fast, and scalable DNS services.
Setting it up
Google's DNS servers are easy to setup on your computer. The IP addresses that you need to input are: 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52.
Since I'm using Windows 7, my screenshots and configuration path below might be different from your setup. They should be relatively close though to previous versions of Windows (XP and Vista). All you need to find are your TCP/IP settings.
1. Click on Control Panel -> Network and Sharing Center
2. Click on "Change adapter settings"
3. Right-click on the network you're connected on. Click on properties. In my case, I right clicked on Local Area Network.
4. Find TCP/IP (IPv4).
5. Change the domain name servers.
Want to learn more about this topic? I recommend this book.