For a good part of yesterday Germany was unreachable on the Internet. 13.6 million sites with domains ending in .de, the top level domain used by the country, wouldn’t load. And email being sent to addresses at these domains was returned as undeliverable.

The problem happened when DENIC, the German Internet authority, uploaded new zone files that contained only partial data. But my goal is not to call attention to the cause, rather a potential solution.

Last year we introduced SmartCache, an OpenDNS invention and one of the most significant innovations the DNS has seen in its 25+ years. SmartCache works by automatically locating the last-known good IP address for websites that aren’t loading and can help in many cases where sites are unreachable, however temporarily.

While the nature of this particular issue would not have been entirely resolved by SmartCache, there are many others – that have taken millions of sites offline – that could be completely fixed for our users by our technology. SmartCache is available to all users free, but you have to enable it for your network. It’s a simple checkbox in Advanced Settings in your account. We purposely didn’t enable it across the board, because like everything we do, we wanted it to be your choice. After yesterday’s issue and a handful of others, however, we think maybe it should be on by default. We’re curious to hear your thoughts: does SmartCache provide enough value to warrant enabling it automatically for all of our users and making it a core OpenDNS feature?

I’ve been a bit quiet lately (look for that to change effective immediately), but I can assure you that our engineering team is working hard building new features that will make your Internet even safer, faster, smarter and more reliable than it is today. Stay tuned for more details, and in the meantime, let us know what you want us to build.

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