Forums/OpenDNS Community/Frequently Answered Questions

FAQ: Understanding OpenDNS and the Domain Name System (DNS)

Matt Prytuluk
posted this on January 29, 2014, 11:42

What is DNS?


The Domain Name System (DNS) is a crucial component to the Internet. Most Internet users never know they are using the DNS, or that they do so hundreds of times per day. The DNS makes the Internet user-friendly and viable; without it, the Internet would not be the ever-present, global phenomenon it is today.

The DNS is most easily understood as an address book for websites. It is responsible for translating the website names and email addresses of all organizations, governments and private entities into IP addresses, which are combinations of numbers that are difficult for people to remember, but necessary for computers to communicate with each other. When your computer needs to talk with the computer of a website, it uses the DNS to identify and find that website's computer.

For example, when you entered the Web address, your computer connected to the DNS and found that the computer of the OpenDNS website is at the address Your computer can now interact with the OpenDNS computer systems as you navigate around our website.

A good example of the more complex elements of DNS can be found here:

Do I already have a DNS Service?


Yes, that's what's helping you get to this webpage. You most likely have DNS services that are automatically configured by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). These ISP DNS services are not optimal; they are typically slower than OpenDNS and vulnerable to outages that will prevent you from reaching your intended website. In addition, ISP DNS services usually do not provide any security or website filtering benefits.

What is OpenDNS?


OpenDNS is a high-tech company based in San Francisco that provides easy-to-implement Internet navigation and Web security solutions for families, schools, governmental organizations and businesses of all sizes. The services provided by OpenDNS increase the speed of navigating websites and prevent unintended access to phishing and malware sites as well as to any Web content that you configure to be restricted.

Why do I need OpenDNS' DNS service?


OpenDNS offers DNS services that are faster and more reliable than any other DNS service. With OpenDNS you will more quickly reach your intended website and never experience the outages that occur with the DNS services provided by an ISP.

OpenDNS also offers the easiest, most cost-efficient way to prevent access to inappropriate websites, block phishing sites, and prevent virus and malware infections. If you want your Internet to be productive and safe, you need OpenDNS.


How is OpenDNS faster and more reliable?


OpenDNS makes websites load faster because we have a global network of servers with sophisticated routing technology that enables your DNS requests to automatically go to the closest OpenDNS datacenter. Your current DNS service is likely hosted in one location and that could be far away from you.

The OpenDNS global network also eliminates annoying Internet outages because there are many servers available to respond to your requests, making it the most reliable, always-available DNS service – no matter where you are in the world.   You can take a look at our network map here:




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Thanks--I am pretty computer illiterate.   I use programs like this that I don't understand!  

March 4, 2014, 05:32
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"I am pretty computer illiterate."

Then hoping you don't drive a car with the same skills about cars.  :shocked:

"I use programs like this that I don't understand!"

I see.  But OpenDNS is not a program, but a configurable service.

March 4, 2014, 11:05
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Matt Prytuluk

Hi rotblitz.

We spend a lot of our energy here trying to make OpenDNS as accessible as possible, with minimal knowledge needed to get protected.  Maybe a better analogy would be as a passenger in a car that we help drive away from malware. :)



March 4, 2014, 12:19
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"We spend a lot of our energy here trying to make OpenDNS as accessible as possible"

And I try to support you with it as much as I can.

"Maybe a better analogy would be as a passenger in a car that we help drive away from malware."

Too bad that a passenger cannot drive and decide the direction.  Just the driver can.  :)
But yes, an auto-pilot for DNS - that would be it!

March 4, 2014, 13:28
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It's very interesting to be well informed by this site.

The answer of mattp1 reveals that he is a smart guy and respectful :)

HB Netherlands

March 23, 2014, 09:01
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I found this quit informing I do know that my charter 30 meg service is as slow as when I had AT&T DSL and after reading this info I looked at where my charter server is 200 miles away from my home town. This must be the reason my home page takes 3 seconds to fully load and 20 more to make it scrolable.

March 30, 2014, 14:08
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hello, its my first time to use openDNS, youtube has been blocked, how can i fix this? youre detailed explanation is higly appreciated. thanks a lot;) 

July 30, 2014, 07:18
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And it's your first time using a forum? If you can't find the answer in another thread, please open a new thread in the "Community Help" section instead of posting off-topic in a FAQ thread.  Thanks.

July 30, 2014, 07:35