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Slow Domain Name System (DNS) lookups can affect your apparent internet speed. Your ISP should provide fast DNS, but there are also alternatives.

My ISP's DNS servers are timing out frequently, what can I do?

DNS, or Domain Name System, is what turns an internet name like into an internet address, such as In essence it's an enormous distributed database. If you're interested in more gory details, HowStuffWorks has a good overview here.

Your ISP provides servers that perform the DNS lookup function each time you access a name on the internet. Sometimes those servers can have problems which range from not knowing the names they should, to taking a long time to perform the lookup.

So I'll be clear: once you've determined that you have a DNS problem, your first step should be to complain to your ISP. You and all their other customers will benefit if they address their problem.

Unfortunately, some ISPs don't seem to care much about the little guy. They make it difficult to report problems and seem to do everything possible to avoid taking responsibility. I've been there, and I switched ISPs as a result. If you're not getting satisfaction from your ISP I strongly suggest you vote with your feet.

However I realize that switching ISPs can be painful, and it's not always a practical option. So I do have a couple of alternatives.

AnalogX FastCache is a caching DNS server for Windows that runs on your local machine and handles the DNS requests that your computer makes. The first time you ask for a name, it goes to your ISP's DNS Servers to get the address. After that every time you ask for the same names again it gives it to you instantly. A friend in the industry recommends it highly. Even with a good ISP things seem to run a little snappier with FastCache installed.

Another alternative is to simply use a DNS provided by someone other than your ISP. This can get a little risky as unlike your ISP, whomever you choose will have no responsibility for keeping you working. Some possibilities include:

  • Simply use the DNS servers of a different ISP. Rather than publish IP addresses here, just ask someone you know for the DNS they're running with and see if they work for you.

  • Use the DNS Servers provided by OpenDNS. (This is what I've been using lately.)

  • Another approach may be to use the Internet's root DNS servers directly. These are a set of 13 DNS Servers that are by definition the master copies of the DNS database. Remember though, that you'll be competing with thousands of other DNS Servers who also use the root servers as their reference point.

  • Many people report good results using the "unofficial" Open Root Confederation DNS Servers.

Article C1842 - September 21, 2003 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

May 28, 2004 1:45 AM

our remote gateway is using winnt\system32.but what i notice is that it used to time out frequently.Tell me what to do each time i see time out on the screen.

ukairo dave
June 24, 2004 6:17 AM

thanks for your article.l work in an isp and am having a problem with my dns,my dns is timing out and the browsing is slow .what can l do to solve the problem.l would be grateful,lf my rwequest is granted in due time.

July 16, 2004 9:43 AM

Hi,We wish to report a brief notice on our site. We found out that on the reply rate of site that it does not exceed a time to life (TTL) of 63during ping reply from the ISP's Gateway ( We obtain a reply of 32bytes, times=540ms and a TTL of 63 ~ 64 instead of TTL of 120 ~ 128 and bytes of 60 or higher. We would want a brief information regarding the situation, is it that we are not using up to our complete Bandwidth rate of 128/128kbps, or that our Time to Live is normal (TTL).

How do get a notice from our ISP, when a maintenance or a Shutdown is going to take place. This is to enable us know when the site is going to be down

Kalu Emmanuel
August 31, 2004 1:54 AM

How do i configure my TTL to match that of my ISP.
My windows default is 128 but my ISP's is 60. i believe this is causing me some transfer loses. Please tell me how to harmonize this values with that of my ISP.


November 19, 2004 11:00 AM

There is no value in "harmonizing" your TTL with an ISP's TTL value. It won't help you in any way. Each time a packet of data goes through a network device, the TTL value is decremented by one by that device. When the value reaches zero the packet is dropped. Making your value 60 would simply mean your packets couldn't go through as many devices before being dropped, though if you are passing through 60 or more network hops, you should expect a fair amount of delay in responses.

August 16, 2005 7:05 AM

i have problem with my dns,i can not see dns of my isp,what can l a result l can no longer browse

August 16, 2005 10:02 AM

Contact your ISP.

January 1, 2006 7:47 AM

I'm trying to play online for my ps2, and after a week of messing with it i finaly got it to a screen that says "authenticating DNAS". Then it says it timed error (603). The only thing i can think to do is go back to the configuration and fill in the secondary DNS server (the only thing i have blank) but i don't know where or how to find it. Can you help me?

January 12, 2006 10:25 PM

I have my modem hooked up to my router and ive been on the internet several times. Of course my internet is "supposed" to be on all the time but for some unknown reason my internet disconnects and connects all the time, maybe about 20 to 30 min constantly over and over again, and this gets really annyoying. Could it be the way i set up my router? Do i need a new ip adress? I wasnt given a static ip since i have cable internet. Can you help please?

January 22, 2006 12:15 AM

I have my modem hooked up to my router and ive been on the internet several times. Of course my internet is "supposed" to be on all the time but for some unknown reason my internet disconnects and connects all the time, maybe about 20 to 30 min constantly over and over again, and this gets really annyoying.

I have almost the same problem, i am sharing a wirless connection with my roommate. He has the modem in hes room, and i am using my laptop to play ps2 online through. But for some reason, i get disconnected every 2 minut. And than it is working 100% again... Any ideas what i can do?

February 16, 2006 11:24 PM

my ip

March 4, 2007 3:33 PM

ok so im not really that great with all this computer mumbojumbo so like what is the DNS because ill be connected but when i want to try and play it says network error-612 and says it couldnt find the dns server can u help me ?

May 18, 2007 8:34 AM

i have this problem that has been bordering me in my office actually its this issue of the clients network timing out from time to time untill i have to restat the router before they would be able to browse againg and after a while againg the browser will display the messate cannot find server untill i have to restate the router supplying connection the the clients, i thought may be its the cards fluctuating so i decided to setup another card on the machine and then install windows 2003 so that it can run seperately from the mikrotik router but i still have thesame problem. But while the clients are timing out the server to which the moderm is connected is browsing steady without any fluctuation.

Please kindly assist in any way u can. Hoping to hear from u soon.


James Vails
July 26, 2008 4:11 AM

i have a question i have a game called monster hunter for slim ps2 and i got my ip address to work but the dns comes up with an error i have my dns numbers but they must be faulty, see im connected to charter and they are of no help neither is dell lol if anyone can assist me in any way please e-mail me im on 24-7 thank you.

September 10, 2008 5:02 PM

If your ISP DNS server are timing out, what you can do is to use a public DNS server which could be better than your ISP DNS. you can use these alternative dns server

Open DNS. ( and

here is another server you can use which is easy to remember if you are on the go. stick it to your mind up to

If you want to know which dns is faster, you can use this tool. (dnstester)

June 27, 2009 2:36 AM

Iím using dynamic DNS on openSUSE 11.1 for PDC+OpenLDAP. The failed DNS resolution has an impact with the LDAP name resolution on Samba. The nss-ldap could not connect to the the LDAP server
ZK@Web Marketing Blog

November 21, 2011 10:57 AM

hey bro
thank you for your compasion and all

i did the DNS thing and am yet to see if it will resovel my issue. you are right about ISP they wont take responsbilty

p.s. i dont know why buy you remind me of a IBM 8086????

it's the whole look


hussein khateeb
December 16, 2011 8:21 AM

i wants to reber my game on facebook

I have no idea what this means. Sorry.
April 17, 2012 4:39 AM

I'm facing the same prob with our ISP
And they do not care
I'm a webmaster and we can not ask all the visitor to change their DSN
is their an solution to push or force the ISP DNS to lookup a domain name
Thank you

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