Comcast outage encourages DIY DNS fix for some

Updated: Service disruption hits much of East Coast

Comcast customers on the East Coast looking to get an early jump on their Cyber Monday shopping last night were stymied by a DNS-related Internet service disruption. However, a number were able to fashion their own fixes to the problem after being directed to alternatives such as OpenDNS and Google Public DNS.

The outage was reported along a corridor from Boston to New York, Washington and Baltimore. First complaints were registered on Twitter about 8 p.m. and the episode lasted for at least three hours.

In the meantime, directions to the DNS alternatives were being offered by the likes of this story in the Washington Post and then being passed along via Twitter.

David Pogue of The New York Times has an easily digestible explanation of OpenDNS which references the company's claim of never having experience a DNS service disruption.

My Network World colleague Carolyn Marsan recently took a look at how these alternative DNS services are being received by business customers. From that story:

With Public DNS, Google entered a market already populated by other free DNS services such as OpenDNS, DynDNS and NeuStar's Ultra DNS Advantage.

Often supported by advertising, these free services handle what's called recursive DNS, which lets end users surf the Web by typing domain names into their browsers and translating them into the corresponding IP addresses.

The free services don't support external DNS, which is how a Web site publishes the latest information about its DNS and IP address changes to its customers over the Internet. Nor do they include the DNS services that companies run on their internal networks, which is an area dominated by special-purpose appliances and software.

While aimed at home and small business users, free recursive DNS services have attracted some companies and school districts.

Increasingly, however, businesses are opting for premium, paid recursive DNS services without ads and with additional security features such as Web content filtering rather than the free alternatives.

Chances are the free alternatives will look more appealing this morning to some Comcast customers.

(Update: Comcast tells Post this morning that it is taking steps to make sure this doesn't happen again. ... Giggle.)

(Update 2: At least one customer disputes the all-clear signal; see comment below.)

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