Fixing TalkTalk’s Issues Easily

When I moved I ended up inheriting a TalkTalk internet connection, that has given me numerous problems because I forgot a few basic things I usually do.

My house is three story and I wanted wired internet and decent wifi up top, in my bedroom so I used a decent TP Link router I had previously used to deal with network storage to run as a switch and access point as a separate wifi network.

Point being I forgot the basic change I usually make to my ISPs router. This subjected me to what I hear is voted the worst service for broadband in the UK (haven’t checked, just a few peoples’ comments.)

Fixing these issues

Intermittent connection
Failure to load some sites due to SSL errors
Random Child lock/parent safety mode warnings
Slow Downs in web page loading

How to fix them

Turns out this problem isn’t one I’d have noticed if I did my usual setup on the router I was using as the connection.

TalkTalk has tragic DNS.

That’s about the height of it. Given the childlock shield rubbish and the odd time I’ve hit a TalkTalk brand message instead of a generic error page it’s clear they don’t implement their DNS to standard or, given the problems, particularly well.

So log on to your router – Likely 192.168.1.1 (mines not, I did change that as part of my two router and some other things network)

Once there, log in (details on the router label if default)

Hit the internet tab, go to internet connection and hit edit.

I’ve used Google’s DNS servers here, however I’ll add a couple of public options below, point being that you have options, I’ll describe their claims in brief – however in short, while a change to any of these will be a huge improvement on speed and reliability over TalkTalk’s if you’ve experienced the issues I have – on the whole, they all go toe to toe with eachother.

Google DNS settings on Talktalk Router

Your DNS options

Google – They’re Google, they offer a to spec open option:
Addresses: 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4
Cloudflare – Claim to be the fastest, they don’t log your data or anything like that.
Addresses: 1.1.1.1 and 1.0.0.1
Adguard – They block ads, malware and phishing sites, now that includes inside games and the like, also have a family safe blocking version
Addresses: 176.103.130.130 and 176.103.130.131
Family Safe Version Addresses: 176.103.130.132 and 176.103.130.134

What does this change?

DNS is what connects your requests for human readable domains and links to IP addresses where the things you request, like web pages, videos and all the files that make up things you see on the internet actually live. Changing DNS won’t change your download speed.

Changing DNS from bad to good can and likely will speed up page loading times, not because the files get downloaded faster but because your site requests actually involve a whole bunch of individual requests behind the scenes the difference in getting each of those started and downloading once they’ve been looked up quicker will make a much bigger difference to your experience than upping download speed.

It’s a bit like poor mans fibre, see fibre has a super fast ping, loses the time for requests to get back and forth, so a slower fibre connection and a faster broadband connection can actually feel the other way round. Fixing bad DNS feels like a much bigger upgrade than a jump in speed because your requests get begun earlier.

Wrapping this up

This post is about helping TalkTalk Customers with their problems, the litany of reasons for changing your default DNS servers have been well documented elsewhere, I saw posts with questions in a number of places when I figured out my latest issue, an oversight in my case caused by a hasty house move.

However in short, DNS is used for everything you request and you really should choose your own because if it’s logged, it’s a record of everything your and your computer connected to, if it’s filtered or spoofed (ie: you go to a page and get told by your provider not to) then you’re not seeing what you should. When I say not what you should I mean your internet isn’t really open.

Now I mentioned options that include parent controls and ad blocking, those too don’t really jibe with what I’ve just said, however, being in control of whether or not they do that is the important takeaway here, this is an option that can make your browsing faster, safer and easier, it’s an option that you always have too.

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