NameBench: Ten Minutes to a 30% Boost in Network Speed

OK, so this question is just a little bit geeky for a cocktail party, but I’ll ask anyway: are you sure that you are using the right DNS servers?

For a couple of years I thought I was in the know by specifying Google’s public DNS servers, and They are fast and very reliable, but after a little research I found a pair of local (NYC) DNS servers hosted by my Time Warner, my ISP. They offered a noticeable improvement, but I kept the Google servers in spots three and four.

And then today I came across NameBench, Google’s open source DNS benchmark utility. It took about 2 minutes to download, and five minutes to run, and three minutes to update my DNS settings. (That comes to ten minutes right.)

Did I mention it’s FREEEE?

From the site:

Are you a power-user with 5 minutes to spare? Do you want a faster internet experience?

Try out namebench. It hunts down the fastest DNS servers available for your computer to use. namebench runs a fair and thorough benchmark using your web browser history, tcpdump output, or standardized datasets in order to provide an individualized recommendation. namebench is completely free and does not modify your system in any way. This project began as a 20% project at Google.

namebench runs on Mac OS X, Windows, and UNIX, and is available with a graphical user interface as well as a command-line interface.

So take ten minutes to give it a try, and post your results below. Good luck.



And the output of the test included this summary and the following performance graphs:





Jing is my newest favorite software utility to fall under the category of “free software that I’d gladly pay for”. As described on the Jing Project web site

The concept of Jing is the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video … from your computer to anywhere.

It’s one of those products that take a little while to fully appreciate, but soon I found myself screen grabbing several times a day for things I normally wouldn’t have bothered – for instance transaction payment confirmations, design elements, and bug tracking – anything that I thought I might want to view or visualize at some future date.

Jing Screen Shot
Jing Screen Shot

Saving the above screen shot to Flickr with the URL in my clipboard took four clicks, and literally less than five seconds.

Here are a few more cool features

  • Available for PC or Mac
  • Download and install in less than two minutes
  • Always available
  • Quickly capture screen images or video
  • Quickly save captures to a local folder, or posts via FTP, or Flickr!
  • Edit or annotate images prior to saving/posting
  • Did I mention that Jing is free?

Jing is a product of TechSmith who may sound familiar as the creator of Camtasia – a popular commercial screen video capture software. They also have a product called SNAGIT used for quick and easy screen captures … Hey wait a minute. Did I just say they’re giving away their commercial product? Well, not exactly. No doubt SNAGIT has many capabilities that Jing does not – but in looking at the demo video, I didn’t see anything compelling enough to switch over.

The video capture is also an excellent, low-frills tool. I use it to make quick instructional videos for clients – things like how to install or use a piece of software. The output is a Flash SWF file which is highly compressed, and easy to transfer. The glaring omission is any form of editing.

If you need the frills, look to Jing’s commercial cousin, Camtasia. Camtasia is really the gold standard of screencasting, and is well worth the price for any serious webmaster. Jing is the free on-ramp product that will make you a daily user of Techsmith, and will likely convert many users to commercial customers.