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A large num­ber of cus­tomers of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions giant Com­cast are report­ing tonight that they can­not con­nect to the Inter­net, report­ed­ly because of a wide­spread DNS (domain name sys­tem) serv­er outage.

Affect­ed areas include Puget Sound and the Bay Area.

The Domain Name Sys­tem, for read­ers who don’t know, is like the Inter­net’s phone book. It is a cru­cial part of the Inter­net’s appli­ca­tion lay­er. DNS servers per­form lookups — they route requests for domain names like to the com­put­ers where web­sites like NPI’s are served from.

When a DNS serv­er goes down, requests to resolve domain names time out and fail, result­ing in con­nec­tiv­i­ty prob­lems. A DNS out­age can be resolved by switch­ing to a dif­fer­ent pub­lic DNS serv­er or pair of DNS servers offered by a com­pa­ny like OpenDNS or an alter­na­tive Inter­net ser­vice provider. But this requires some degree of tech­ni­cal exper­tise, which a lot of peo­ple sim­ply don’t have.

Com­cast says it’s aware of the prob­lem and work­ing to fix it, but in the mean­time, cus­tomers who aren’t tech­no­log­i­cal­ly savvy enough to fig­ure out how to ditch Com­cast’s DNS servers are out of luck.

Video tuto­ri­als for chang­ing DNS servers are avail­able on YouTube. Here’s one for Mac OS X, and here’s one for Win­dows. If you run a GNU/Linux dis­tri­b­u­tion, you’re prob­a­bly savvy enough to know how to change DNS servers.

What should you change your DNS servers to, if you want to ditch Com­cast’s DNS? One option is OpenDNS, which is known for its rock sol­id reliability.

Input these num­bers to switch to OpenDNS:


For faster per­for­mance, a bet­ter option might be Speakeasy/MegaPath, which scores well in the DNS tests that NPI has run.


Still anoth­er option is Level3, which pro­vides Inter­net ser­vice providers with their con­nec­tion to the Inter­net backbone.


Any of these options is bet­ter than Comcast.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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