I’ve been using OpenDNS for a number of months now, and I am a fan. My favorite features:
- Faster DNS response than my ISP means pages load faster.
- Typo correction – my .vom and .xom typos automagically get turned into .com for me.
- They take an ‘as little as needed’ approach to asking for information from you.
- Ability to request a DNS update for a domain.
If you haven’t been using OpenDNS, I recommend giving it a try.
I tried OpenDNS for a few weeks as I was troubleshooting my cable connection and it might have loaded a little faster but I was frustrated by a usage pattern I’d come to use a lot:
In Safari I’d type `mikezornek` into the location bar and Safari would eventually try `http://mikezornek.com` and/or `http://www.mikezornek.com`.
When using OpenDNS it would do a google search with that term in an OpenDNS specific layout which wasn’t as familiar. I’ve since gone back to using my comcast default.
I absolutely despise the way browsers have implemented that “feature” – it enforces a hierarchy amongst TLDs and encourages users not to pay attention to them.
Alex, your dislike for the feature is largely irrational in a day and age when most browsers have a search text input one hop (or tab) away from the location field. If you want to search for a site that may not be at .com, type the domain name there and you get your search results.
OpenDNS effectively makes both fields – location and search – in your browser equals. That means you’ve LOST a feature. So I’m with Mike – the “removal” of that feature remains the single reason I will not use OpenDNS (before they added the “update the cache” ability, there were two). The majority of the time, I know exactly where I’m going – be it “apple” (.com) or some other site. I even like typing “apple/trailers” and going to the right location.
Then again, I have .coms for all the domains I wanted. Perhaps you have “.org syndrome”? 😉
Alex, appreciate your note. Erik, glad to see that CacheCheck eliminated one of your concerns.
Erik, your love for this feature is largely short-sighted. The web will need to continue to evolve and expand past the current TLDs and this feature is a hindrance to that future expansion.
I have to agree that being able to type in someone’s name and have it come up someonesname.com doesn’t make much sense in the longterm, especially as TLDs increase in number. What about the sites that might use the same node name but a different TLD?
To use a comparison, if I write a letter to a friend named Stephen Billings, I can’t just write Stephen Billings on the envelope and expect it to get where it’s going.
If you’re using this feature frequently enough that it makes a difference, well, that’s what bookmarks are for. Type it once and forget it.
I will not bookmark apple.com for the very simple reason that trying to locate the bookmark would take longer than typing “apple” and hitting return.
Again, I submit to you the simple fact that turning the “location” bar into a duplicate of the “search” bar – effectively – costs you a feature. If and when we see more TLDs that somehow necessitate a change in behavior, I expect that the search tool will still be there.
Erik, you are making a circular argument. To make your case, you must either pre-suppose that everyone uses the “we’ll guess the TLD for you on error” feature you seem to like so much, or give value to that feature.
Bill, it’s not a circular argument. It’s very straightforward: the feature to search already exists within every modern browser. Forcing the location field to search is a removal of a feature.
It has nothing to do with pre-supposing “everyone” uses it. Clearly that can’t be supposed given that Alex doesn’t use it, nor does any OpenDNS customer.
I’m not buying this either – the location bar is just the location bar.
What OpenDNS does is show a different kind of “error, server not found” page if you type in an invalid URL. You guys are welcome to continue the conversation without me, just keep it civil.
One more thing to make clear, then I’ll stop commenting here. I have my own entry now for that. 😉
I rarely use the .com auto-completion. In fact, I only ever use it when I know what I’ll get – apple/trailers for example, or nslog/searchterm (I’ve implemented a 404 search at my blog), or “microsoft” or “cnn” or some such site that I know exists at .com.
If I’m unsure of the domain, I use the search field in my browser.
The vast majority of the time, of course, I use LaunchBar, click an item in my Bookmarks Bar, or type a three-letter abbreviation and let TypeIt4Me expand out the full site (“hns” expands to “http://nslog.com/” for example).
In other words, when I want to search, I search. When I want to save typing a few characters and know where the browser will take me, I use the location field.
Hmm, thanks for mentioning it. I don’t really care about the type-o stuff, etc, but I’m always game for trying out something new.
So far it does seem to be nice and snappy, which is good.
Anyhow, hadn’t really heard much about it or looked into it, so thanks for the reminder.
Alex, Thanks for the suggestion. This should be a big help for me. My DSL requires that I enter a DNS name in my network control panel (for some reason the router setting doesn’t work). Now that I have a MacBook I’m getting irritated having to switch profiles for work with no DNS and home with DNS. This seems like a good solution just set this for the DNS across the board regardless of internet access provider.
Wow, this devolved into a really geeky conversation quickly! 😉
I would ask Erik if he thinks that the horribly named “.mobi” TLD should be the default TLD on mobile browsers, since, well, you’d think that people on mobile browser would want the content designed for mobile browsers, right? And that’s what TLD is for, right?
If not, for any number of citable reasons (poor adoption, use of the dot-m convention, etc), then he goes to prove our points that the location input should be used for that — shortcut conventions are just that: convenient. But, that doesn’t mean that they clarify things when the web is rife with spoofing and phishing sites that try to go after such “absent-minded conveniences”.
Fortunately OpenDNS also prevents against such types of attacks — and, interestingly enough, provides a safety fix to your well-loved featured.
Thanks for the nice writeup. Looks like most questions have been answered. As with most things, not every solution fits every person, which is why we are all about choice. I like the discussion here though, not that I’m surprised it’d happen here. 🙂
This “feature” of OpenDNS annoys me as well. I really wish there were a way to opt out of it (although I doubt ever finding that option, since it’s obviously how they make money).
It also occurred to me that this could potentially be a ripe means of phishing, couldn’t it?
Imagine if some scammer managed to get the #1 spot for a search that would otherwise redirect a user to Bank of America’s website? There is a reason banks in particular tell you to type their full address into the address bar to visit their site, rather than clicking on a link in an email you received. Links from a search engine should be considered just as unreliable.
I do like the theory that goes behind OpenDNS. I believe it is a great idea for anyone that uses the internet and wants to avoid all kinds of phishing scams. My issue is that what if someone edits the DNS entries in OpenDNS and changes something like etrade to phishing sites. Without some assurance from a 3rd party security firm, i dunno if i can trust using it for private secure transactions.
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