OpenDNS and CDN networks

June 8, 2013 at 1:22 am Leave a comment

I’ve long been a proponent of OpenDNS.  They offer a great service at a very good price for the home user.  The filtering they have is great, plus the malware/botnet and phishing protection is very nice.  They have a nice web interface allowing you to whitelist sites that you want to be able to visit, no matter if they fit into an otherwise filtered category.

But, at the same time, they seem to have a big issue with CDN networks.

Recently, I tested SimpleDNS and the CyberSitter plugin.  SimpleDNS is a really great piece of software that I’ve used off and on for years.  I decided to test this at home, as we have been thinking about implementing this as my place of work, and I wanted to try it out.  The CyberSitter plugin essentially lets you filter categories of websites.  It doesn’t provide as granular of a level of control as OpenDNS, but it seemed to generally do a good job.  While testing, though, I noticed something that was a bit unexpected.  Previously I thought CDN’s were a problem with OpenDNS, but I saw some evidence that the problem is bigger than I thought.

I buy seasons of shows through iTunes.  Just about every week, I’ve been downloading a new episode of Psych, and recently Mythbusters, among other shows.  My home internet connection gets in excess of 30 Mbps, but I sometimes see the estimated download time of 40+ minutes for a show.  I didn’t think much of it, figuring that Apple throttles their servers.  Since a typical hour show is only about 42-44 minutes in length, I could almost watch the show faster than I could download it, something that annoys me greatly.  🙂

Anyhow, when using SimpleDNS with the CyberSitter plugin, I noticed that my regular show downloads were fast.  Like under 4 minutes fast.  Netflix shows seemed to start playing faster.  And, it’s pretty typical for me to have issues streaming YouTube videos.  They seem to start playing, then some seconds later, pause again to buffer, with this start-stop pattern continuing until I give up.

But, all these problems seemed to go away.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I attributed this to the fact that SimpleDNS was checking the DNS name against the CyberSitter list, and if it didn’t match a blocked site, it would perform a normal lookup against the root DNS servers.  This would result in me getting the IP addresses of servers closest, when I’m trying to reach CDN servers.

Anyhow, my trial period is over, and I’m back to using OpenDNS as my only DNS resolver.  If only I could get the best of both worlds… (Close CDN servers with top-notch free filtering)

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Entry filed under: General, Networking. Tags: , , .

YNAB Update – May wrap-up OpenDNS discussion part 2, Developing a solution

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