OpenDNS shuts down redirect search page and ads feature

Whenever I type a search term into Firefox's address bar that contains a period, my ISP is displaying a custom "not found" error page because a look up for explorer.exe will fail for obvious reason.

I dislike the highjacking of my searches and use the "?" workaround usually to run searches for all types of queries automatically. If you search for ?explorer.exe, Firefox will automatically run a search for the term.

It depends on the DNS provider if a custom error page is shown or not. There does not seem to be a setting in Firefox to block this behavior, and the only option that you have is to switch provider or use the "?" workaround instead.

If you are a free user of OpenDNS you may have experienced a similar situation. Whenever you try to access a domain name that does not exist, you are redirected to a custom error page with advertisement on it.

The search and results appear to be powered by Yahoo, and the domain you are redirected to is website-unavailable.com.

website unavailable

The only way around this up until now was to switch to a paid package instead.

OpenDNS announced today that it will retire OpenDNS Guide on June 6, 2014 for all free users of the service. What this means is that free users won't be redirected to a custom search page anymore when they type a domain name into the browser's address bar that cannot be resolved automatically by DNS because it does not exist.

Instead of seeing the custom search page, free OpenDNS users will see the solution that the browser maker has baked into the product. This can be a custom search page or a simple error message that the server could not be found.

The change does not affect any other features of the OpenDNS service.

Why is OpenDNS making the change?

According to David Ulevitch, founder and CEO of OpenDNS, there are several reasons for that. When the company started out, it decided to use ads to finance the service.

This worked out well in the beginning as browsers did not interfere with those look ups in any way. The rise of Google Chrome has changed that, and as a result, the revenue source has declined over time.

OpenDNS started to concentrate on its paid products for revenue generation and the consequence of all this was the decision to retire the guide and the ads page.

Verdict

Free OpenDNS users will benefit from the decision as searches and look ups won't be highjacked anymore by the company's DNS system.

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Responses to OpenDNS shuts down redirect search page and ads feature

  1. Red May 30, 2014 at 10:20 am #

    Thanks for the heads up, I've switched my primary to Norton and the secondary remains Comodo for now :)

    • nonqu May 30, 2014 at 10:39 am #

      Why would you do that? OpenDNS will be providing you the same service they used to but without ads. I doubt they will get more users though. Everyone I know who changes DNSes changes them to Google ones. Fast, reliable and google knows what you're doing on the net anyway.

      • Red May 30, 2014 at 11:16 am #

        I misunderstood, thinking they shut down the entire free servers. Switched back, lol. I should pay more attention, thanks.

  2. Dwight Stegall May 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    I use Google Public DNS IPv6. For windows users use Dnsjumper to switch servers quickly and easily. This is handy when your ISP's default DNS is offline. Switch servers and you won't have to wait to get online like everyone else.

    • Blue May 30, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

      Also your ISP's default DNS is how they block some sites we like to visit like torrent sites, or they throttle down our access or speed using their preferred DNS. I took switched to the two Google ones once I discovered my server's ISP was blocking my access to torrent sites and I've had no problems since then. As for OpenDNS when I was first changing DNS servers, I looked them all up and pinged each one multiple times to see which had the lowest timing. For me the Google ones are much faster than OpenDNS. by 13-20ms. So I never actually tried OpenDNS, all I did was ping them for their ms values to see which one could I access the fastest.

  3. onedeafeye May 30, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

    I've checked DNS speeds using DNS Benchmark from GRC, and even though OpenDNS isn't the fastest for me (or even in the top 5) I still use it for the added layer of security it provides.

  4. mistake May 31, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    "The only way around this up until now was to switch to a paid package instead."

    Free users have had the option to turn off the redirect for years. It requires creating an account, yes, but nothing more than that.

  5. Ray June 1, 2014 at 12:32 am #

    Nice. I've been waiting for this.

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