bookmark_borderImproving our Ad-Blocking VPN service: Now with anycast DNS.

We manage our own DNS servers that our ad, tracker, and other “BS” blocking VPN service uses. For the beta period, we were hosting DNS in a single location (Luxembourg), which held strong and served it’s purpose. But we decided to take things to a new level…

A single DNS server location to serve the requests for multiple VPN locations is not an ideal solution in a production environment, especially one that is being built for commercial use (IE: Us selling VPN services). While it served it’s purpose for the initial beta testing of the network and to allow us to develop and tune our blocklists, it does present a couple of downsides in that it’s a single point of failure for the entire VPN network and means performance isn’t the absolute best that it could be given that some VPN locations are geographically on the other side of the world from where the DNS was being served from.

So, we did what any bunch of geeks would do who love making things work better: We went from one DNS server, to three DNS servers that are each located in strategic geographical locations to ensure that your DNS lookups from our VPN network is done by the server closest to your VPN’s location. This offers a quite measurable decrease in overall query time while also hardening the network from attacks, as our service is able to sustain multiple outages at once (god forbid) and still keep humming along, serving you your favorite web content without all the ads, trackers and other bullshit associated with the modern era of websites and mobile apps. Aside from beefing up the overall specs of these servers to accommodate future growth and use, we can also add more in a relatively simple fashion to make scaling a much easier task.

But, if you’re like us, you’d rather see numbers and data, right? Below are some before/after results of a simple ping test done from several locations around the globe. One being done to our existing, soon to be decommissioned DNS server in Luxembourg, and the other being done to our new anycast DDoS protected DNS cluster. Check out the results below.

LocationOld DNS (Avg. RTT)New DNS (Avg. RTT)Difference
Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands39.16833.230-5.938
Dallas, Texas, United States157.440140.246-17.194
Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany51.30833.630-17.678
Hong Kong230.435200.940-29.505
London, England, United Kingdom54.58755.204+0.617
Madrid, Spain89.55773.626-16.297
Milan, Lombardia, Italy48.77437.104-11.67
Montreal, Quebec, Canada121.07511.503-109.572
Moscow, Moscow City, Russian Federation65.85573.915+8.06
Paris, Île-de-France, France38.06548.756+10.691
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden55.55466.514+10.96
Tokyo, Kanto, Japan290.306269.833-20.473

It’s improvement almost everywhere globally, with only a slight increase in response time in Sweden, France, UK and Russia. Though, this gives us the data we need to see where we can improve the setup by possibly adding a new DNS server in an area that will better serve these locations.

Our VPN service is currently ‘out of stock’, but we plan to re-launch with the new, updated DNS service in the coming week.

bookmark_borderHere is what is new, and what is coming soon.

As you may have noticed, we have done a bit of rebranding from ‘INCOG.HOST’ to ‘IncogNet’. This rebranding stems from two major factors:

  • First, the ‘.host’ TLD is cheap and a bit spammy. It’s automatically filtered as spam on some websites when shared (such as on reddit) and generally isn’t associated with legitimate business. The domain will possibly still be used internally where needed, such as for nameservers, hostnames, etc.
  • Second, we are legally operating our business under the entity of, “IncogNet LLC”, short for “Incognito Networks”. As such, changing our website URL to represent that of our business name just sort of made sense.

With this update in our name came a slight update in our branding. You may still see the old URL used in some areas of the site until we make the complete move over, things like our customer portal still reside under the old name but will soon be moved over as well.

Big improvements and upgrades are coming to our services! We’re rolling out DDoS protected, distributed anycast DNS for our ad-blocking VPN service!

This means that your VPN location will query the closest DNS server to it to serve your request. This is a BIG upgrade to our current VPN offering which is currently utilizing a single location (Luxembourg) to serve your DNS requests from. Not only will this new setup decrease the total lookup time for each request, it will also harden the entire service by removing a point of service failure. This new setup will allow for one or more DNS server to be offline (due to outage, maintenance, etc) without impacting the ability of the VPN service to still function as intended. If one server fails to respond, the request will be sent to another one until the lookup is complete.

But that’s not all! We’re obsessed with quality. We may be a small team of people here but we’ve all been in this industry a long time and have been a customer of many other providers over the years. We will only offer you services that we ourselves would use for our own projects. That’s why we’re revamping our shared hosting offerings. The new shared hosting service will include more super fast storage, on a much larger server with faster, and more CPU cores, and will utilize CloudLinuxOS to better allocate guaranteed resources to each customer while improving security and performance of your hosting. The previous features such as DDoS filtering, I2P network and Tor network hosting and encrypted webmail will certainly be included as well!

When will you start offering your Virtual Private Server or Network Node service?

We’ve had this question in our ticket queue often recently. To be honest, we can not yet quite say for sure. We’re still locating server hardware and trying to shop for good deals, which are harder to find than they were pre-COVID. Rest assured however that we still plan to launch our VPS and Network Node service on our own, owned hardware located in private rackspace in our Luxembourg location. We’re offering our current and existing services from rented resources until we’re able to transition them onto our own hardware in the future, but want to wait until we own our hardware before we jump into the VPS and Network Node market. We want to do this proper, we want to do this right. That means we need to outright own our hardware, maintain our own ASN / IP space and be in control over as much as possible. This will allow us to not only provide you a better, more cost efficient service but will allow us more freedom in operation. While we are very eager to begin offering these services, we do not want to rush into it and want to do it right.

But wait, there’s more! We’ve got something else up our sleeve that we are building and may offer as a beta-service in the coming months. Without going into much detail or naming what the service may be, imagine a way to take your Content and Deliver it over an anycast Network so that your content is delivered to the viewer from a server that is closest to them…. This is a project that is currently on the roadmap but something we have yet to break ground on, so to speak. But be on the lookout for this.

Until next time,