We switched from SmartBro to Globe WiMax wireless Internet service. In most respects we are having better luck with the Globe service, but we had one BIG problem. When we tried to connect to Internet addresses we would frequently get a message saying that our browser could not find or connect with the site. This problem sometimes even included major sites such as Facebook and the New York Times. The problem was extremely frustrating. Our problem connecting to our own blog server was major!
Basically, Globe was using a DNS server that was not working for us. A DNS server is like an address book which helps your computer find the site you want to connect with. Globe’s DNS server just did not seem able to find the sites we wanted to connect with. We’re not very technically adept but we remembered reading a New York Times article about a DNS server called Open DNS. Here’s the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/technology/personaltech/19pogue.html
We ended up using Google’s Public DNS server. http://code.google.com/speed/public-dns/ Switching DNS servers involves changing networking settings in your control panel (Windows) or system preferences (Mac). Google provides step-by-step instructions. Switching to Google Public DNS seems to have completely resolved our problems with Globe Wimax. While we had problems with SmartBro, DNS resolution was not one of them.
The Google Public DNS is fast and free. There are a couple of other DNS options which have some pluses and possible negatives. These two offer web filtering. That is they will warn you or block access to sites which may be hosting malware or other objectionable content.
Norton DNS ”ConnectSafe” provides DNS services just as Google DNS does but also checks the DNS address against the Norton SafeWeb database, supposedly warning you if you are attempting to access a dubious site. It may also block sites you’d like to visit. Norton DNS is also free. See http://nortondns.com/
Open DNS offers a similar free DNS service with web filtering, but may redirect you to a page containing sponsored links if it cannot resolve the DNS address you have requested.
Since we use Google Chrome as our browser and Google Chrome warns you when you surf to possibly dangerous sites, we have stayed with Google Public DNS.
Even after DNS problems are solved, you still may have problems connecting to some sites in the U.S. The internet addresses (IP addresses) of Globe and Smart are sometimes on “black lists” (http://whatismyipaddress.com/dnsbl-blacklist) Some countries are considered problematic because lots of spam and/or nefarious activities come from them. Examples include Nigeria, China, Russia and, unfortunately, sometimes the Philippines. You can check to see if your I.P. address is blacklisted HERE. My own Globe I.P address is blacklisted on several lists including Spamhaus.
Every day, myphilippinelife.com receives spam messages containing links to the spammer’s sites. These are automatically detected and deleted. We also get constant attempts to guess our username and password so as to log on to and take over our server. We get very few legitimate users from China, but it’s likely that many of these hackers are in China — so we can see why owners of websites in the developed world find it easy to just block all traffic from problematic countries and I.P. addresses. You may not realize that your I.P. is blocked. You may just get a message saying that you could not connect to the site you requested.
Sometimes we cannot connect with important sites because of I.P. blocking. In such cases we make a connection through the same virtual private network (VPN) account we use to view sites such as NetFlix and Hulu which are not available in the Philippines. A VPN circumvents all kinds of I.P blocks, because once we are signed in through our VPN account, the sites see a California I.P. address, not Philippine a I.P. address. We have described all this an another post on NetFlix and VPNs.
Therefore, sites that we can’t load sometimes magically appear when we log into our VPN. One example is Google’s amazing new travel search engines. Google flights presents a graphic of the price of all available options and all dates by price. This allows you to easily choose the cheapest dates to fly without having to search each date on each airline. Try logging on to http://www.google.com/flights/ Using my regular Globe connection I can’t acess the site but can do so as soon as we use our VPN connection. Our VPN account costs us $55 per year. StrongVPN is one of the cheapest VPN options, but it is not good if you are doing anything illegal such as downloading pirated software or movies. While not a necessity for everyone, we find it well worth the money.
This is a bit of a geeky post, but we hope it will help others with the same problems we have experienced.