What is managed DNS?
Managed DNS is a service in which the provider gives you full access to your DNS records, but the backed is completely managed by the provider. It could also include services like DDoS protection, fail over and other value added services that can make DNS lookups much safer and faster. Some providers also offer IP AnyCast which significantly improves the lookup latency by routing the packets to the nearest location.
In this post, I explore the speed and the success rate of the name servers of managed dns providers as compared to other DNS hosting providers and as compared to self managed DNS services. The study shows that managed DNS services provide much faster DNS lookups. But the more interesting result of our analysis is that the success rate of the name servers of managed DNS sevices is also significantly higher.
Managed DNS: This is a service which manages the DNS infrastructure completely and includes services like Dynect, DNS Made Easy, CloudFlare, UltraDNS etc.
DNS Hosting: This is a non-premium service provided for free by most web hosting companies which includes providers like eNom, GoDaddy, 1and1 etc.
Unknown: This includes self managed DNS services like the ones in which the website manages its own DNS infrastructure by running Bind or other similar DNS servers on their own self managed servers.
We find that the speed and the success rate of dns hosting providers and unknown dns services is significantly different from the speed and success rate of the name servers of managed dns services.
The data used in this study includes over 50 million DNS queries over a period of six months (July 2014 to December 2014). The queries come from a distributed infrastructure that includes network locations in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York in the United States. We measure about 25 managed DNS services, and about 170 DNS hosting providers.
As the chart shows, managed DNS is a complete winner in terms of success rate and uptime of the name servers. The mean success rate of name servers in the managed DNS category is 99.16%, and of those in the DNS hosting category is 96.08% and of those in the unknown category is 95.61%. The analytics clearly show that there is an advantage in using a managed DNS service.
The average DNS speed of managed DNS providers is 34.88 milliseconds while of dns hosting companies is 118.6 milliseconds and of unknown DNS services is 135.8 milliseconds. Note that some managed DNS services offer an IP AnyCast service which could be the reason for the highly different DNS lookup speeds.
The advantage of using a managed DNS service is clearly seen in these charts and analytics. Both the success rate and the speed with which DNS queries are answered by name servers is significantly higher for Managed DNS services. DNS hosting companies do a bit better than unknown self hosted DNS services, but the difference is not that different. If you have a high traffic site, you may benefit from changing to a managed DNS service. There are companies like CloudFlare that offer free AnyCast DNS which could be a first change that you can make to your site. Most large corporations use a managed DNS service e.g. Amazon.com uses Dynect and UltraDNS. For very small sites, the advantage could be minimal, but it is still worth it to try something faster and more reliable as compared to running your own DNS server, or maybe using your web hosting company’s name servers.