OpenDNS and Comcast

I miss Optimum Online (Cablevision).

No, they weren’t perfect. But after 17 months with Comcast, and the 6 or so previous years with Cablevision/Optimum Online, I say Cablevision wins when you’re talking about ease of use, reliability and speed. Cost is a draw.

Part of the difference could be that I was in a private home before, with two strong drops into my house. Here I’m at the mercy of underground cabling in our condo complex and even with a recent cable swap, it’s still not nearly as fast and reliable as I would like.

Our downstairs cable box drops out on some channels. I can’t stand how buggy the Comcast digital DVR is as compared to the Cablevision digital DVR (had the chance to try that the past few days at my Mom’s house). Not to mention how poor the interface is. It gets the job done, but it’s not nearly as much fun.

For the internet, this is typical:

I’m more concerned with upload speed than download speed, and the upload speed is nothing to cheer about. Upstream is what makes nice Skype and Vonage calls. Supposedly, Comcast is rolling out a speed upgrade but it doesn’t look like it’s here yet. I read that Comcast is only upgrading speeds in areas where they are competing with Verizon’s high speed FIOS network (fiber optic) which isn’t here.

Comcast’s DNS server is terrible…I was getting sick and tired of sitting there wait for a page request in the browser to resolve.

Then I read David Pogue’s blog entry on OpenDNS. All you have to do is tell your router to use their DNS servers instead of getting it from your ISP. Took a minute to make the change for my Netgear router, and now it works for all the computers in the house. I can even set it on my phone.

OpenDNS caches pages from a much larger pool than an ISP (I assume) so the request for a page is answered faster. I’ve tested a few pages (such as this one) that typically resolve slowly, and it does make a huge difference. Plus, OpenDNS has a built in phishing filter and it will catch some of the more obvious site typos. Nothing to lose by trying it, worst comes to worst you just go back in and reset it to what it was before.

It won’t help me get better VOIP quality, but every little bit helps.

P.S. I did sign up to be notified when Verizon FIOS is available in our area. Would I switch from Comcast cable/internet to FIOS TV/internet if it lives up to the hype? In a heartbeat. Competition is good. Comcast isn’t making any improvements here because they don’t have to.

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6 thoughts on “OpenDNS and Comcast

  1. former comast victim says:

    well, for what its worth, FIOS lives up to the hype in my neighborhood. i laugh at my friends who still have concast when they run speedtests. they almost never see the advertised speeds. on FIOS, i pull 100% of the advertised 15MB/2MB almost every time i do the test. morning, noon, night.

  2. Judi Sohn says:

    well, as you’ve gained the attention of the OpenDNS folks I see they fixed the problem.

    If I had a better ISP, I wouldn’t be using OpenDNS. But right now, I’m not sure which I trust less to slow down and/or sell me out…OpenDNS or Comcast. I figure it’s nothing I can’t back out of easily, so I might as well use it while it works.

  3. Judi, it has nothing to do with “slow down” and “sell out.” You say you may as well use it while it works. It wasn’t working. If it were not for a few people emailing me, I’d not know there was a problem and who knows how long OpenDNS would be doing their only real function – sending people to the proper IP addresses – WRONG.

  4. Judi Sohn says:

    I understand that, Erik. But it sounds like it was some sort of glitch with your page, you complained about it, and it was fixed. Yes, the whole TTL thing sounded lame (who does that?!?). That doesn’t tell me that the entire system is broken. Comcast’s DNS screws up far more often than that and there’s no one from the company to talk to who has a clue.

    I have no idea if I’m going to stick with OpenDNS, but so far I am noticing improvement and I haven’t had a problem with any site that I’ve tried to reach. If that changes, I’ll switch back. If I had a better ISP, I wouldn’t have felt the need to switch in the first place.

  5. If OpenDNS doesn’t redirect sites that change DNS servers in a timely fashion, you may not know that you’re getting errors. You may be fetching old information silently. That’s all I’m saying.

    Perhaps, like with false positives in spam, you’re willing to accept a low number of these types of errors. After all, sites don’t move very often. Far less often, perhaps, than you get false positives.

    If Comcast were as bad as you say it is, I’d probably switch too. Please just remember that DNS is something that’s usually pretty transparent to users – something you set and forget. Thus it’s something you usually don’t think about as a potential problem.

    P.S. I likely wouldn’t switch because of the inability, as reported by others, to type “domain” and have my browser attempt “www.domain.com.”

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