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If there is one thing that we can all agree on, it is that slow download speeds are extremely frustrating. In the quest for better download speeds, is it possible that changing DNS servers will have a positive effect? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

Screenshot courtesy of Linux Screenshots (Flickr).

The Question

SuperUser reader Adam wants to know if it is possible for DNS servers to have an effect on download speed:

I have been experiencing a problem with low download speeds from the Mac App Store. I decided to change my DNS configuration to Google DNS 8.8.8.8 and it started to download over ten times faster on the same Wi-Fi setup. How is this actually possible?

Is it possible for DNS servers to have an effect on download speed?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Linef4ult has the answer for us:

They can have an indirect effect. For example, downloading a file from Akamai:

Say you are in Germany. DNS server A resolves you to a French node, the connection is good, and the download is fast. DNS server B resolves you to a U.S. node, the connection is poor, and the download is significantly slower.

Slow DNS queries themselves will not cause your download speed to be slower, but they will cause web pages to wait longer before starting to download.


Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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