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Our ISP's DNS servers are unreliable at times. I am looking for reliable, public DNS servers as a replacement.

I know of OpenDNS but do not like the fact that it hijacks Google lookups and proxies its services. Preferably the DNS servers are free, reliable, and officially open to the public.

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6 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

I'd recommend running your own DNS server on your LAN, using "root hints" to provide lookup functionality for Internet names. That'll also let you create and use names for your various on-LAN resources, as an added feature.

You don't mention what operating systems you're using, but getting a caching name server running under most Linux distros and Windows versions is pretty easy.

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+1 It has the advantage that cached lookups will have lower latency. Always useful. –  David Pashley Oct 22 '09 at 18:35
    
Works for us and really is simplicity itself to set up. –  John Gardeniers Oct 22 '09 at 21:10
    
I agree. Use your own DNS servers, configured to use root hints rather than forwarders. why rely on some ISP's DNS? If they have problems, you'll have problems. –  joeqwerty Oct 23 '09 at 0:58
    
@joeqwerty: You read my mind. That's exactly why I started doing it. A local ISP, back in the day, couldn't run DNS servers to save their lives and my Customers were always losing DNS. It finally occurred to me that running a DNS server with root hints was a good answer to the problem. Sure, sure-- it's not "friendly" insofar as you're not using the ISP's DNS server caches, but that's what they get if they can't run reliable DNS servers. –  Evan Anderson Oct 23 '09 at 1:04
    
@Evan: My sentiments exactly. I figure if my DNS queries can't be resolved because the root hint servers are down, then we have bigger things to worry about. ;) –  joeqwerty Oct 23 '09 at 1:16
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Such nameservers are called "open DNS resolvers" and are widely regarded as a bad idea (see RFC 5358 to know why). So, you can find such servers but it is not a good idea to use them, they have a higher chance of being poisoned than the others.

As mentioned by Evan Anderson, a local resolver is probably the best solution.

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If you can't solve the problem by running your own caching server in-house, then try some traceroutes out through your ISP to identify their upstream provider(s). Then look for VPS hosting companies that use those upstream providers, and rent a server there. Configure it also as a caching server, and also set up firewall rules so that only your company IP addresses can use the nameserver, port 43.

Make sure that your root hints are up to date by checking them with IANA's copy here: http://www.internic.net/zones/named.root

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I agree also with Gekkz, use 4.2.2.1 and 4.2.2.2 - I have used dns in many business and home set ups, while it is useful - I still don't like that it hijacks google searches.

Also another problem I find with OpenDNS is that if you ping a machine that doesn't actually exist on your network, it'll still return a ping as if it existed -- it's just resolving their dns server. You know when you type in fcebook.com or gogle.com, it goes to their servers? Same w/ pinging.

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I believe you can set up OpenDNS to not do any of their redirect garbage. –  neoice Oct 22 '09 at 20:49
    
Yes, but it requires creating an account on OpenDNS and accepting their terms of use. –  bortzmeyer Oct 23 '09 at 10:17
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Use 4.2.2.1 and 4.2.2.2. These are Level(3)'s public DNS resolvers and should not hijack any pages.

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I find this show sometimes...sometimes. –  Saif Khan Oct 22 '09 at 17:46
    
these servers are well known and frequently slow. –  neoice Oct 22 '09 at 20:48
    
Using these is however considered (quite rightly) to be a tad antisocial as it increases load on already very busy hardware. Running your own DNS cache locally on a spare linux box is the way to go. –  David North Oct 22 '09 at 21:43
    
It's probably not a good idea to use these unless you are actually a Level3 customer: tummy.com/Community/Articles/famous-dns-server . Level3 doesn't actually advertise these as a public service, so they really are not required to continue providing them to non-customers. –  devicenull Jan 22 '12 at 4:00
    
@devicenull According to this blog post by their VP of Content and Media, Level (3) identifies itself as a provider of Open DNS just like like OpenDNS and Google. Read the third paragraph blog.level3.com/2011/11/11/a-flawed-study-of-cdns-and-dns –  Luis Ventura Jan 22 '12 at 8:59
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This is not exact answer to your question, but I have setup my own dns server (BIND) on laptop with no problems so far. If you don't mind one additional process (25 MB) on your computer, this is a good solution.

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