Speed Up Internet Connection with Acrylic DNS Proxy for Windows

Your browsing speed depends on many factors – type of browsers and bandwidth being just a few of them. In this article, we are talking about yet another essential factor to speed up Internet Connection. We are talking about the resolution of domain names.

Understanding Domain Name Resolutions

When you enter a URL into the browser address bar and press Enter, your computer needs to know which IP address you want to connect to. Every URL has a corresponding IP address which only the machines can understand. People like us remember the URLs while the computers can understand only the IP addresses in binary language.

When you enter a URL or click on a bookmark or link – the computer/router contacts your default Domain Name System Servers (DNS servers) to resolve the URLs into their corresponding IP address. Upon resolving the DNS, the DNS servers send back information about the URL to the client computers. The client computers then connect to the Internet address sent by those DNS servers.

Since it takes time for packets to travel between the client computer and DNS Servers, you experience a delay before your browser can actually load the requested webpage. The following figure shows how your default DNS servers contact the primary DNS servers to obtain and route domain name resolutions back to your computer.

A web page is made up of many elements – most of which are part of different domains. For example, entering www.microsoft.com into any browser of your choice and hitting Enter will not only load www.microsoft.com but also c.microsoft.com and i.microsoft.com before you are presented with the Microsoft home page. The additional domains further add to the time spent in loading webpages. You can view what all URLs are being resolved by looking at the status bar of the browser while waiting for webpages to load.

While one method to speed up Internet connection can be speeding up Internet Explorer or other browsers by removing add-ons etc., Acrylic DNS Proxy helps you browse faster by speeding up the time taken to resolve domain names pertaining to the URLs we use.

Acrylic DNS Proxy To Speed Up Internet Connection

When you install Acrylic DNS Proxy on your computer, it creates a virtual DNS server on your local machine and uses it to resolve domain names for you. Since the DNS server, in this case, is resident on your own machine, the time taken to resolve domain names is reduced significantly.

It creates a local virtual DNS server on your computer by way of two files that does not occupy much space. Other than creating a local DNS server, it sets Open DNS as secondary DNS servers. That means when a domain resolution is not available in the local virtual server, it falls back on Open DNS servers for domain resolution.

When you enter a URL or click on a bookmark or link, instead of routing the request directly to the Open DNS servers, Acrylic first checks the local virtual DNS database. If the corresponding information is present and is fresh (had been updated recently), there is no need to contact the Open DNS servers. This saves a lot of time.

In case the resolution exists in the file but is outdated (a few days old), Acrylic still sends the domain resolution to computer while updating the DNS resolution later. This too saves time as your computer will go ahead to open the website while the resolution in the Acrylic database is updated passively.

If the resolution in the local server is too old, Acrylic will send the resolution request to Open DNS servers and wait for their response. Upon receiving the response, it is passed to browsers, and the resolution in the local database is updated.

Only in the third case, it will take some time; otherwise you will continue to save time each time you need to access any URL.

IMPORTANT: You may not notice any significant change in the Internet connection speed as soon as you install it. This is because Acrylic DNS Proxy has to collect and store the resolved DNS for websites you have been visiting. Over time, as the database of Acrylic is updated with resolved domain names, you will see that you do not have to wait for websites to begin loading.

Review Of Acrylic DNS

This is yet another feature in Acrylic that I love. Acrylic installs a custom HOSTS file to your computer when you install the program thus blocking you from visiting malicious websites.

REMEMBER: Acrylic DNS Proxy employs Open DNS servers by default. You may change them if you want – by editing the AcrylicConfiguration.ini file located in the Acrylic DNS Proxy folder in Program Files.

NOTE: The files with Acrylic DNS Proxy are pre-configured, so you do not need to make any changes to anything. You won’t even notice that Acrylic DNS Proxy is running until you open the Windows Task Manager.

BONUS: Monitoring Tool For Acrylic DNS

A third-party tool is available on the Internet that serves as a monitoring tool for Acrylic DNS (scroll down in the linked page until you see Acrylic DNS Proxy Monitor). Acrylic Monitoring Tool provides you with insights on Acrylic DNS Proxy that are not visible otherwise.

It is available as a zipped file and contains two files. After extracting the files, copy both ADPMonitor.exe and ADPMonitor.txt to the same folder where you installed Acrylic DNS Proxy. You might see another zip file in the extracted folder. That contains Acrylic DNS Monitoring Tool for older versions of Acrylic DNS Proxy, and you can just ignore it.

Run ADPMonitor.exe and in the File menu, select to check both Run on Startup and Run Minimized. This makes sure you will have the Acrylic DNS Monitoring Tool running in the system tray each time with the Acrylic DNS service.

If you have been using Acrylic DNS Proxy or plan to use it, please let us know your experience with it. You may want to also check out this list of free Proxy software too.

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Posted by on , in Category Security with Tags
Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

6 Comments

  1. Casabond

    In Acrylic DNS Proxy Monitor I have a message “No hit log filename is defined in ini file”. Do I need to enter a value or is it an installation error?

  2. Rene

    @Casabond

    You need to defined it in the ini file.

    It should look sort of like this.

    LocalBindingAddress=0.0.0.0
    ;
    ; The UDP port at which Acrylic responds. The default value of 53 is the
    ; standard port for DNS resolution. You should change this value only if
    ; you are using a non standard DNS client.
    ;
    LocalBindingPort=53
    ;
    ; The file name of the hit log into which every incoming DNS packet seen by
    ; Acrylic gets logged. You can specify here an absolute or a relative path and
    ; a sort of daily log rotation can be achieved by including the %DATE% template
    ; within the name.
    ;
    ; In the hit log, along with the packet timestamp, client address and host name
    ; there’s a treatment field (how Acrylic treated it). Possibile values are:
    ;
    ; B -> Explicitly blocked
    ; H -> Resolved from the HOSTS cache
    ; C -> Resolved from the Acrylic cache
    ; F -> Forwarded to the configured DNS servers
    ; R -> Received from one of the configured DNS servers
    ; U -> Silent update from one of the configured DNS servers
    ;
    ; Example:
    ;
    ; HitLogFileName=HitLog.%DATE%.txt
    ;
    HitLogFileName=C:Program Files (x86)Acrylic DNS ProxyHitlog.%DATE%.txt
    ;
    ; The filter which controls what gets logged into the hit log and what’s not.
    ; A valid filter is whatever combination of packet types (for their meaning
    ; see the previous note) specified in any order.
    ;
    HitLogFileWhat=BHCFRU
    ;
    ; The file name of the stats log into which Acrylic saves informations
    ; about the performance of your DNS servers and some statistical data about
    ; the fate of your DNS requests. You can specify here an absolute or a relative
    ; path.
    ;
    StatsLogFileName=C:Program Files (x86)Acrylic DNS ProxyStatsLog.txt

  3. Richard Campbell

    Vipre blocks the download site and the acrylic home page. Are you promoting rogue sites and software?

  4. Hmm … what do you think? Would we promote rogues? Have you allowed this possibility to exists, that maybe – just maybe – your security software is throwing out a false positive? πŸ™‚

    Both links mentioned in this post are clean and you can see the VirusTotal reports here:
    https://www.virustotal.com/en/url/dcda2569d4cd02e6e7b9077d1c7d8104bbbb7aff18748e66bf234749f70b23f9/analysis/1393470318/
    https://www.virustotal.com/en/url/a52c0c9ea8678ae98b2bf8d103d7e79c4e4960f3e6b246f4b070881f8ba9b281/analysis/1393470068/

    But you may use the SourceForge or the Softpedia link if you are more comfortable with it: http://sourceforge.net/projects/acrylic/
    http://www.softpedia.com/get/Internet/Servers/Proxy-Servers/Acrylic-DNS-Proxy.shtml

  5. Richard Campbell

    Thank you for the reply. I must apologize for being a bit harsh. Your site has always been safe for downloads. I will get in touch with threat track security to have them check the site again.

  6. You are welcome Richard. Maybe when you have some time, you might want to have a look at my post on ‘safe downloads’ here: https://www.thewindowsclub.com/safe-software-download-sites πŸ™‚

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