OpenDNS is used by almost 50 million users to secure their browsing, to avoid malicious websites. Other than that, OpenDNS also provides parental controls and a faster DNS resolution – adding to your browsing experience. I can’t recall its name at the moment (probably NameBench software) considered OpenDNS as a service that shows ads if any URL (address) could not be resolved for any reason. The company named its ads page as OpenDNS Guide.
On the official blog, in his latest entry dated May 30, 2014, the CEO seemed a bit emotional while writing about how OpenDNS grew from 2005 and about their plans to remove OpenDNS Guide – thereby making the service not only more secure but also more user friendly.
What is OpenDNS Guide
According to what the CEO of OpenDNS wrote on the company blog titled No More Ads, OpenDNS was formed to provide a safer browsing experience. He says that back in 2005, almost everyone relied on ISP provided DNS. Such DNS never cared about the security. Anyone could visit any website, even if the website was malicious. He goes on to say that those DNS servers were mostly some old computers in a corner of their office that weren’t cared properly, let alone scanning the URLs to identify and block malicious websites that may intentionally add/run a malicious code to compromise your computer.
At that time, OpenDNS came up with free to use DNS servers. But since they needed money, they teamed up with Yahoo to provide search suggestions whenever the user entered an invalid URL or a URL that could not be resolved. The search suggestions page also contained adverts. Unlike today’s browsers that combine address and search bar, older browsers should normally comply with Internet rules and show you a 404 error: Site Cannot Be Found. Instead, OpenDNS Guide was shown. This contained adverts, suggested websites and Yahoo pages close to what the users entered in the address bar.
These adverts helped OpenDNS earn to maintain their servers and to check for malicious websites for blocking purpose. And yes, if you entered a malicious URL, then too, you would have encountered the OpenDNS Guide. It is called Guide because it provides suggestions as to which sites you should visit if a URL is bad or erroneous.
Problems With OpenDNS Guide
OpenDNS Guide was helpful to both the company and users until the browsers combined address bar with search bar. Now, when you type a wrong URL, you get better suggestions based on the search engines’ vast databases.
Also, people were preferring DNS that would show browser codes (404, 301 etc.) instead of suggestion ads. If you research a little, most people prefer browser codes (and error messages such as Page Not Found) instead of the suggestions. This was a drawback and many were leaving OpenDNS for the reason.
The above were two main problems with OpenDNS Guide. The CEO said that this ad suggestions’ service would be turned off by June 6 2014. They have also created a countdown page to show how much time is remaining before the OpenDNS Guide is removed forever.
How You Benefit – No Ads Mean Reduced Risk
Ads are always tricky. You do not know which click may install a malicious code on your computer. With the OpenDNS Guide page gone, there won’t be any more ads. That means no intervention or placement of third party elements that may or not be safe.
With the OpenDNS Guide page gone, you are left with the browser codes according to what the CEO of OpenDNS says. The browsers will show whatever the makers of browsers attached to website return codes such as 404, 301 and 303 etc.
The main thing is there will be a total elimination of third party ads which will further reduce risks by a significant percentage, making OpenDNS, more user friendly and safer. The CEO adds that OpenDNS is looking forward to welcoming more users and to welcome back the users who leaved them because of the Guide page.
UPDATE: Cisco completed its acquisition of OpenDNS. OpenDNS is now Cisco Umbrella.
Suggested Reading: OpenDNS Review.