OpenDNS shuts down redirect search page and ads feature

Martin Brinkmann
May 30, 2014
Updated • May 30, 2014

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

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.


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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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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