Domain Name Service (DNS) is a critical piece of infrastructure within the Internet. To visit a website or use an application, we employ their names, such as www.facebook.com or www.northwestern.edu, as though these were their addresses in the Internet. The truth is a bit more complicated. The site’s address in the Internet is actually a string of numbers, which tend to be difficult for us to remember. Making our lives easier, DNS sits behind the scenes, translating every user-friendly name to the correct Internet address. Every time we visit a website, chat with friends, or send an email, we rely on DNS. Not surprisingly, a badly performing DNS can greatly impact the mobile experience.
Along John Rula, fourth-year PhD candidate, Fabian Bustamante launched a new mobile application called Namehelp Mobile, to explore this question. The app allows users to measure DNS performance provided by their companies and compare it with public DNS systems, such as GoogleDNS or OpenDNS. The team found that by simply choosing the “right” DNS for them, users could improve their web performance by up to 150 percent.
This bar graph shows the percentage of time GoogleDNS or OpenDNS provides users with better performance than their carrier’s DNS when visiting several popular websites. When visiting Facebook, for example, GoogleDNS gives users better performance 40 percent of the time and OpenDNS over 95 percent of the time. Due to the different locations of each content provider’s servers and the make up of each cellular network, the best DNS service can vary. The way to find the best service is to test it yourself.