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Lose your Time Warner Internet connection (again)? You could try Open DNS

December 10, 2008 |  6:51 pm

Openlogo If you live in Greater Los Angeles and are fed up with Time Warner Cable, there's probably not much you can do about it (unless you're the L.A. city attorney, in which case you can sue). The frequent outages, slow customer service and small number of high-definition channels are a fact of life. But the next time your Time Warner Internet goes down, wait a moment before you shout expletives at your modem. There may be a solution, albeit an unauthorized one.

This week, when an outage prevented some L.A. customers (Time Warner told NBC News it was 1.2 million but told us it was a "small number") from accessing the Internet, a few sages on Twitter suggested checking out OpenDNS. The San Francisco company is a DNS provider, which means that when Time Warner's DNS server is down, Open DNS can help you access the Internet.

Here's how it works: DNS servers convert IP addresses (those numbers formatted something like 123.456.78.90) into domain names. They are basically the "directory assistance" of the Internet, according to Allison Rhodes, a spokeswoman for OpenDNS. Time Warner and other ...

... cable companies provide DNS servers for users, but the service is separate from the Internet connection itself. When a DNS server goes down, customers can't get to the Web pages they're seeking.

OpendnsThat's where OpenDNS comes in -- it provides its own DNS servers. So if Time Warner's DNS server is down, you can change your computer setting to use OpenDNS to convert IP addresses into domain names. (Your computer will remember the change and stick with OpenDNS until you tell it not to.) Rhodes says OpenDNS will make your Internet faster and has anti-phishing devices and free parental controls.

Of course, if your Internet is down, you probably can't access the OpenDNS website to find out how to make the switch. Rhodes recommends saving the directions to your computer because you can still convert to OpenDNS when your Internet is down (find directions here).

If you missed the outage this time, don't worry about it: A Time Warner spokesman said that everything is back up and running for its customers. But for at least a few of them, that may not be because of anything Time Warner did. Said Rhodes, "Every time there is an outage, we see an influx of new users."

-- Alana Semuels

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