Thursday, April 3, 2008

Speed up your browsing by setting up a local DNS cache

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I'm fed up with my ISP's (BSNL) slow DNS servers. It takes 4-5 seconds just to look up a site, which is annoying because it happens every time I click on a link. So I decided to set-up a local cache of DNS look-ups to skip the process and save time. A little bit of searching and I discovered what I was looking for - TreeWalk.

Those who are still not able to get what I'm about to do, here is brief description.

When you type the URL of a website in your browser, the browser first needs to get the IP address associated with the URL, because a computer can't recognize domain names. These human readable domain names need to be translated into machine readable IP addresses which is done by "looking up" the names in what is know as the DNS servers. These DNS (Domain Name System) servers are responsible for keeping records of domain names and mapping them to IP. Every time you want to visit a site, the browser has to fetch the IP address from your ISP's DNS servers. If the DNS server is slow like my ISP's, you waste time every time you request a DNS look up from your ISP. The only way to speed up this process is to maintain a local cache of DNS on your PC and thus bypass the slow servers in your ISP.

TreeWalk is a software that runs silently in the background as a process and caches DNS results locally. Whenever any request is made by any browser, email client, Instant Messenger, FTP, etc TreeWalk will first check to see if it already has the requested info in its cache and if the info is still valid and not expired. If that's the case, TreeWalk will return the data from the cache. If, on the other hand it doesn't find one, it relays the request to your ISP. The new request is then added to the local cache. Ever since I started using TreeWalk I began to see lesser and lesser of "Looking up website ..." message and there is a noticeable improvement in speed when my browser fetches for a website.

Installing TreeWalk is like installing any other software. Just run the setup file and follow all prompts. At the end restart your computer.

How to know whether TreeWalk is running and doing what it is supposed to do?

1. Launch TreeWalk's control panel (All Programs>TreeWalk>TreeWalk control panel). You should see the message "Service is running".
2. Verify whether the service is actually runing by opening Task Manager and look for a process called named.exe. That's TreeWalk.
3. Open a few website with your browser and then click "Dump DB" on TreeWalk's control panel. You should see a list of the websites you just opened along with their IP addresses.
4. Open Network Connection on your PC, right-click on Local Area Network connection and click Properties. Highlight Inter Protocol (TCP/IP) and click Properties. You will find that the primary DNS has been set to 127.0.0.1 which is your PC and your ISP's DNS (if you have set any) has been pushed to the secondary DNS, which shows that every DNS query is first looked at your local cache.

If you find all of these settings as I have described, it means that TreeWalk is installed correctly and running.

TreeWalk uses port 53 and also port 953. Both these ports must be allowed to be used if you are using a firewall. TreeWalk works on Windows XP, 2000, .NET and 2003 workstations or servers. A version on Vista is still pending.

Download TreeWalk

1 comment:

  1. Treewalk has a bad site reputation

    ReplyDelete

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