Trouble browsing the web?

I recently helped out a guildie with a strange problem.  He couldn’t browse the web using Internet Explorer, nor play WoW, but he could log into Vent just fine.  My first thought was that he got a virus that prevented browsing and started giving him suggestions on how to clean his system and recommending borrowing a friend’s computer to facilitate it.  While giving out this advice, it struck me to try one more thing before writing this off as a malicious virus (which is usually the case when something like this occurs, sadly).

I quickly opened a CLI box and did a quick ping on www.google.com to find out it’s IP address.  I then relayed that address over Vent and had him type it into the browser address box.  Up came Google for him!  What did this tell me?  It told me that his computer was NOT infected with a virus (thankfully!) and that his ISP’s Domain Name Servers (DNS) went offline which meant he was trying to browse the internet blind (meaning he could only use IPs and not their friendly names).   Luckily, there are public DNS that can be used, but the process to tell your computer to use them is anything but easy.  I figured it would be a good idea to put a few resources together to help others out in such a situation, if not directly, at least a friend can help them out by having this information at hand.  I walked him through setting up his computer to use Google’s public DNS and afterwards he was able to surf the web and play WoW as if nothing was wrong.  Woot!

Google runs a public DNS on:
Primary: 8.8.8.8
Alternate: 8.8.4.4

OpenDNS also runs public DNS and seems a bit more responsive:
Primary: 208.67.222.222
Alternate: 208.67.220.220

Now for the hard part… instructions on how to tell your network connection to use these public servers rather than whatever your ISP gave you.  Thankfully, OpenDNS has some very good instructions with images to help you with each OS.

Configure MS Win7

Configure MS Vista

Configure Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard)

Configure Max OS X 10.4 (Tiger)

Other OS instructions can be found here.

Props go out to OpenDNS for both supplying public servers and some very handy instructions for setting up your system to use them.

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