Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Getting My Macs to Behave on a Non-Apple Router with OpenDNS

This is a follow-up to my earlier "Help, I Got a Mac!" blog entry.

Shortly after I got my MacBook Pro in December 2007, I went to Singapore on a sabbatical Fellowship. There I rented a couple of rooms in a house that came with an ethernet cable on a fiber optic network that was among the fastest (most of the time) and most stable that I have ever used -- much more than I get at home in Flagstaff.

Well, now I am back in Arizona and connecting my MBP to my home router, which also has four PCs and an older, and seldom used, Mac Mini attached to it. To my surprise, while the PCs were running fine on a relatively new D-Ling DIR-655 router, my MBP was having some problems. I frequently got the message that the Mac could not find the server for the web pages that I was trying to connect to. This included www.google.com. I would have to refresh the screen one to three or more times to connect, and a few times it would never connect. This was very frustrating! And it got even more so when my wife got a brand new MacBook and encountered the same problem.

I know that any Mac fanboy will recommend getting an Airport Extreme router (US$180), and I am sure that would probably fix the problem. However, the D-Link DIR-655 is considered one of the best routers available by several computer magazines, and it is supposed to work with Macs.

After searching online, I found this discussion on C-Net.com: http://www.esyurl.com/98o , in which someone had a similar problem, but even worse. They could basically not connect at all. The solution in that email was recommended by a Microsoft support person, who suggested specifically identifying the DNS (domain name server) on the Mac, instead of assuming that it will use a DNS supplied by the router. It went on to suggest copying a DNS address that is found on a PC on the network.

So I tried this. But instead of using a DNS from a PC, I instead used the OpenDNS service, which can be found here: http://www.opendns.com/ - which is a free and highly secure DNS service.

The results have been FANTASITIC! Firefox and Safari both now access websites incredibly fast -- at least compared to what the situations was before. Hopefully this information will help some others who are trying to connect their Macs to a non-Apple router. ... And thank you OpenDNS.

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