Our Internet service is via Earthlink running on a Comcast backbone.  Most of the time, the service is fast with few outages, which is why the problems we’ve been having over the last few days have been driving me nuts.  While service seemed to be routine during normal business hours, service from the late evening through early morning hours was incredibly slow and unreliable.  Web pages would hang during loading and streaming any videos, even trailers, via our Apple TV became impossible.  I had a feeling it might be due to a problem with our DNS servers but really wasn’t initially sure how to troubleshoot that.

While web page loading and streaming video would hang, speed tests I conducted showed normal Internet speeds (23-28Mbps download, about 6 Mbps uploads). That established that once the connection was made, things were working normally.  That seemed to confirm my suspicion that our DNS servers were probably involved.

So, I made a quick trip to Google.  A search there turned up multiple references that listed free, public DNS servers (as did a trip to Apple Support Discussions). After looking at several, my favorite one is at: http://theos.in/windows-xp/free-fast-public-dns-server-list/.  I picked one listed there and went into System Preferences/Network on my Mac Pro, clicked on the Advanced button and the “DNS” tab, and in its widow entered the I.P. address for my choice.  As soon as I applied the change, my Internet service went back to normal.  I then made the change on all my machines, before realizing that approach and been overkill.  I simply needed to use Airport Utility to go into the Internet settings for the router and enter my new DNS settings there.  I have done so, and now we’re cooking along.

I contacted Earthlink Support and chatted with a technician there about what I had found and what I had done to fix it.  He confirmed they were having DNS problems, even though there was no mention of it on their website.  I suggested they put up some notice to prevent folks from pulling their hair out.  I hope they do and then let people know when they think their problems are resolved.  They owe us that.

(NOTE: As of 9:50 pm on February 10, 2014, Earthlink’s DNS servers seem to be working normally.  I have moved my router settings back to those servers as a result.)