Namehelp Improves Your Web Performance by Boosting DNS

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Community Manager
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Staff Member
Oct 23, 2012

Namehelp is a DNS optimization tool for Windows, Mac, and Linux that can significantly improve your web performance, whether you use a public DNS like Google Public DNS or OpenDNS or your ISP’s. Developed by Northwestern University researchers, the app runs in the background optimizing your DNS configuration and automatically fixing the interaction between DNS and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs).

DNS, as we’ve mentioned before, is like the phone book for the internet, connecting your computer to websites. Most popular websites rely on a Content Delivery Network to deliver their content faster. According to the researchers behind Namehelp, public DNS services aren’t very efficient at getting the content from CDNs, redirecting users to CDNs farther away than necessary.

Namehelp aims to fix that. Once you install the program and configure it (setting your computer’s DNS to, Namehelp will start improving your web performance. There’s a convenient Chrome extension to quickly access the Namehelp dashboard, where you’ll see benchmarking and performance graphs. In my tests, using Namehelp showed a 341% performance increase over the default DNS from my ISP.

Your mileage may vary, but it’s definitely worth a try.

Download Namehelp


Level 1
Feb 28, 2011
Interesting. I wonder exactly how it works.

It sounds suspiciously like an application level GeoLocation routine that has only recently been made possible through recursive DNS services.

Previously, third-party DNS services have been notoriously iffy when it comes to content download servers. (CDN)

When using your ISP's DNS, content servers load balancing scripts are going to be able to route you to the nearest CDN because it knows where the request is coming from due to your IP address. However, if you're using a third-party service, chances are pretty good that you're not in the same area that the DNS service is, and the CDN load balancers would only be able to route you to a CDN nearest to the IP of the DNS service.

Granted, third-party services try to have servers located in various places around the world to hopefully give you a more localized experience, but that server may be a few hundred miles from you, which could end up directing you to a CDN that is even further away from you, even if you happen to have a CDN server quite close to you.

The end result is very likely reduced download speed due to net congestion, server hops, etc... between you and the CDN. (Edit: And no, contrary to popular belief, DNS does not affect throughput...)

Recursive DNS services are able to limit this impact greatly, because they are able to forward a truncated portion of your IP along with the DNS request. No, for the privacy conscious users out there, this isn't enough to identify you, it's just enough to give your general location. Much like the area code on your phone number.

Anyway, a few of the big name DNS services use recursion like this. (You can read more about this here: How It Works - A Faster Internet)

So I'm very curious if this is something similar, but at an application level. Anybody know?
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