Chromium cleans up its act – and daily DNS root server queries drop by 60 billion

That’s a 41 per cent traffic relief for all concerned

The Google-sponsored Chromium project has cleaned up its act, and the result is a marked decline in queries to DNS root servers.

As The Register reported in August 2020, Chromium-based browsers generate a lot of DNS traffic as they try to determine if input into their omnibox is a domain name or a search query.

Verisign engineers Matthew Thomas and Duane Wessels examined the resulting traffic and reached the conclusion that it accounted for up to 60 billion DNS queries every day.

Wessels has since penned a new post that went unreported when it appeared on January 7 – the day after the US Capitol riot – but was today resurfaced by APNIC, the Regional Internet Registry for the Asia-Pacific region.

In the post he says the Chromium team redesigned its code to stop junk DNS requests, and released the update in Chromium 87.

All too often, technologists solve problems by introducing additional layers and disregarding simpler solutions

The result? “Before the software release, the root server system saw peaks of ~143 billion queries per day,” he wrote. “Traffic volumes have since decreased to ~84 billion queries a day. This represents more than a 41 per cent reduction of total query volume.”

Wessels' post praises that outcome, and also offers some lessons for the future.

“All too often, technologists solve problems by introducing additional layers of technology abstractions and disregarding simpler solutions, such as outreach and engagement,” he wrote.

“Chromium’s efforts show how such outreach and community engagement can have significant impact both to the parties directly involved, and to the broader community. Chromium’s actions will directly aide and ease the operational costs to mitigate attacks at the root.

"Reducing the root server system load by 41 per cent, with potential further reduction depending on future Chromium deployment decisions, will lighten operational costs incurred to mitigate attacks by relinquishing their computing and network resources.” ®

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