My Assessment of OpenNIC

A few months ago I posted about OpeNIC. For those who didn’t read that post OpenNIC is a decentralized Domain Name System (DNS). Most Internet users setup their computers to use DNS provided by their Internet Service Provider (ISP). There are several weaknesses to using an ISP provided DNS including possible reliability issues (the ISP’s DNS servers go down), potential censorship (the United States government has used its power over DNS providers to enforce nonexistent censorship laws), and stored log files of sites you’ve visited that are easily accessible by law enforcement officers.

OpenNIC, being a decentralized system, avoids many of these weaknesses. Since there are so many OpenNIC servers available to use the chances of a complete DNS outage is reduced. Government enforced censorship is more difficult because the OpenNIC has several exclusive Top Level Domains (TLD) that cannot be controlled (i.e. shutdown) easily. Logs are also harder for government officials to obtain since most OpenNIC servers either keep no logs or purge logs within 24 hours (a server’s policy is generally be found here).

I’ve been using OpenNIC for all my DNS needs since September and so far have had a favorable experience. Well known TLDs (.com, .net, .org, etc.) are properly forwarded to their respective servers so I’m able to access any domain name without issue. DNS lookups aren’t noticeably slower using OpenNIC when compared to using DNSs provided by Google, OpenDNS, or Comcast. I also haven’t experienced any downtime. Overall I like OpenNIC and will continue using it and will recommend it. I think the system is able to address some shortcomings of centralized DNSs while being reliable enough for day-to-day use.