Why I Am Now Using DNS.Watch As My DNS Provider…. At Least For Now

Yesterday I came home to discover that my Internet wasn’t working properly. The symptoms that were being presented were that some websites would work, and others were inaccessible. On top of that if a website did work, there was a chance that the content would not display properly. My suspicion was that the DNS or Domain Name System server that I was using was not working properly.

A quick tutorial on what DNS is. DNS is a system which translates the domain names you enter in a browser to the IP addresses required to access those sites. You need to have access to a DNS server if you want to do anything on the Internet and your ISP will provide you with access to theirs. But that may not be a good thing for reasons that I will get to in a minute.

As a troubleshooting step, I removed the Cloudflare DNS service that I had been using instead of my ISP’s DNS service and replaced it with the DNS service provided by Rogers which is my ISP of the moment. By doing that all my problems went away.

Now a word about why I don’t use the DNS service provided by Rogers. A few years ago Rogers was caught doing DNS redirection. Meaning if you mistype an address in your browser, Rogers DNS service will take you to a search page with ads. Besides having unwanted ads displayed, it’s also a security risk that I wrote about here. It was a pretty shady thing for Rogers to be doing as ISP’s in my opinion shouldn’t be doing stuff like that, and I haven’t trusted them enough since then to use their DNS service full time. But to be fair to Rogers, they weren’t the only ones doing this sort of thing as Bell was caught doing something similar to what Rogers was doing. The result was that I have used public DNS services. I started off using OpenDNS. Then I moved to Level3’s DNS service when OpenDNS got bought by Cisco and they wanted you to register to use it. More recently I had been using Cloudflare’s DNS service as that was the new cool thing to use. But last night forced me to move again because of the issues that I was seeing.

Since I refuse to use the Rogers DNS service under any circumstances as I don’t know if they still do DNS redirection, I have at least for now moved to DNS.WatchDNS.Watch for the following reasons:

  • DNS Neutrality — The servers do not censor any DNS requests. This differs to some ISPs around the world who actively censor what you can and cannot access.
  • Privacy Protection — The company does not log any DNS queries. It is not recording any of your actions. By contrast a typical ISP DNS server may log your history, and some don’t even anonymize the data collected.
  • Data is not for sale — The company as far as I am aware does not have any business deals in place with ad networks or other institutions that have an interest in learning about your online habits.
  • No ISP DNS Hijacking — This goes back to the sorts of things that Rogers and Bell have been caught doing. DNS.Watch doesn’t do that at all, which is a good thing for you. 
  • It support IPv4 and IPv6 addresses  That way you future proof yourself seeing as IPv4 addresses are running out.
  • DNS.Watch supports DNSSEC  This system is used by many sites to ensure that the data you receive is legitimately from the real site and not from a hijacked domain or other trickery

The only weakness of DNS.Watch is that their setup instructions aren’t the best as they don’t have instructions for setting up your average consumer grade router to use it. For experienced users, that’s not a big deal as they’ll figure it out. But for the average user it can be a bit of a challenge to set up and DNS.Watch should really address that.

I’ve been using it for the last few hours and it seems very quick and responsive. For the present time I am going to stick with it and see how it performs. But I am going to look at my options for a public DNS service to see which is the best one. In the meantime, I would love to know what happened last night to Cloudflare’s DNS service. I’ve talked to a couple of people and they had issues with it as well. But I can’t find anything online that speaks to what happened. Thus some clarity on that would be nice to get so that I can pick the best public DNS service for me.

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