Use OpenDNS to surf safely with these tricks

Becky waring By Becky Waring

Windows Secrets editors frequently recommend OpenDNS, a free service that blocks dangerous sites so you can browse the Web securely.

Unfortunately, OpenDNS has a few tricky gotchas for the unwary, but most of the problems can be solved if you set up an account and take advantage of a few tweaks.

In her June 11 Top Story, WS contributing editor Susan Bradley described how to use OpenDNS to help combat malicious Web sites. In essence, you quit letting your ISP’s server convert domain names (like Google.com) into IP addresses (74.125.45.100) for your browser. When you type a domain name, the conversion to an IP address goes through OpenDNS instead.

This simple substitution of one set of DNS servers for another should eliminate the intermittent server outages that many broadband subscribers experience. OpenDNS uses a global network of servers that can be redirected in case of overload or failure. The service’s main page shows the servers’ locations in the U.S. and Europe. In addition, OpenDNS claims to resolve requests quicker than the DNS servers of most ISPs, which means pages should load faster.

However, the real power of OpenDNS — and the reason Susan and other experts recommend it as a defense against Web-based malware attacks — lies beyond mere name-to-number serving.

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Becky Waring

About Becky Waring

Becky Waring has worked as a writer and editor for CNET, ZDNET, Technology Review, Upside Magazine, and many other news sources. She alternates the Best Software column with Windows Secrets contributing editor Scott Spanbauer.