Why businesses are seeking out an OpenDNS Umbrella Alternative

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More and more businesses are turning away from Cisco Umbrella and OpenDNS. We see it everywhere: From the MSP to enterprise industries, customers are not happy with Cisco as their DNS security vendor. OpenDNS (Umbrella) is terminating contracts of long-standing customers and their technical support is a recurring problem as responses are not timely or sufficient. DNSFilter outranks Cisco Umbrella (OpenDNS) on G2 when it comes to ease of use, quality of support, ease of doing business with, and product direction. More DNSFilter customers switch from Cisco Umbrella than any other competitor.

Choosing security via DNS

While the decision to secure your internet is an easy one (who doesn’t want a safer work environment?), choosing how to protect it can be overwhelming. Security threats come in a myriad of forms—everything from phishing to ransomware, cryptojacking, malware, and C2 callbacks. The number of cyber attacks increases each year, and security via DNS is becoming a critical part of the enterprise IT stack. But deciding which provider to place your trust in is difficult. 

The OpenDNS story

For years, OpenDNS was a customer favorite. OpenDNS was founded in 2005, offering DNS protective services for both personal and professional use, and the company quickly rose in reach and reputation. In 2015, they were acquired by Cisco and their business services were subsequently relabeled as Cisco Umbrella, though their personal solution retained the name OpenDNS.

With Cisco’s added resources and OpenDNS’s established success, they seemed poised for greatness. However, once Cisco purchased the solution, customers began seeking out an OpenDNS Umbrella alternative. Here’s what caused OpenDNS competitors to overtake the once-powerful solution.

Why businesses turning to OpenDNS Umbrella alternatives

Companies that have either used or considered OpenDNS are looking to other DNS security providers for four main reasons. They want greater innovation, faster response times, better customer support, and lower costs.

Up-to-date, innovative features

One of the common complaints by former OpenDNS Umbrella customers is stagnation. Users need a security solution that updates, innovates, and adds new features in response to evolving threats. When Cisco acquired OpenDNS, many customers felt that the product stopped transforming and modernizing. In 2021, for example, OpenDNS still hasn’t upgraded their product to support all mobile devices. Considering how more people access the internet from a mobile device than from any other source, this is a major strike against the company. The leading OpenDNS Umbrella alternatives, like DNSFilter, offer full mobile support.

Cisco Umbrella still relies heavily on domain list uploads, as opposed to being driven by AI or ML. 

In one study, DNSFilter ran a list of 400 blocked domains (marked as threats by its AI in a 24-hour period) and used OpenDNS Umbrella to see whether or not the other service would block the flagged domains. The results were shocking: OpenDNS blocked less than 27 percent of the threats. The same study determined that “Cisco Umbrella is likely not blocking 50 percent of zero-day malware and phishing sites, putting customers at serious risk,” in part because it still uses list uploads.

OpenDNS similarly hasn’t adopted imagery-based anti-phishing tactics. Though to be fair, several OpenDNS competitors also lag behind with regards to this technology. DNSFilter is the only solution with imagery-based anti-phishing.


Speed is another factor that leads customers to find OpenDNS Umbrella alternatives like DNSFilter. 

DNS protection is known to potentially slow down your network (by adding an additional step to scan and filter all DNS queries), but not all providers operate at the same speed. The average DNS query speed for Cisco Umbrella (OpenDNS) as of writing this article is 11.06 ms in North America—faster than Google (18.15 ms), but slower than DNSFilter which averages closer to 7 ms.

Not only does OpenDNS fall behind other DNS resolvers, but they’re outpaced in threat detection, too. One OpenDNS customer shared in a forum that, “[T]here is in general a few hours lag (maybe more) from when a new URL ‘goes live’ to when OpenDNS updates and catches it [...] So we still have to worry about the person that clicks on the phishing link right when they get the email, but for the user who waits 4-6 hours to read their email, the link is typically blocked by the time they click on it.”

With DNSFilter, you can automatically block any uncategorized domains or enable our interstitial feature which will scan any uncategorized domains and only allow you to view the page once it’s been scanned.

Customer support

One of the leading complaints from Cisco Umbrella customers is its underwhelming support experience. If a user has a question or needs assistance with troubleshooting, it’s easy to feel like just another number instead of a valued client, especially within such a large enterprise. 

For example, a Cisco Umbrella customer posted a review on TrustRadius and remarked, “The biggest room for improvement is the support.” On G2, another Cisco reviewer noted, “[T]he support is not fast enough.”

Beyond response time and personability, OpenDNS doesn’t offer the same level of support as their competitors. DNSFilter provides both technical support and feature request support. Users have the ability to vote on features they’d like to see developed. After all, support isn’t simply problem solving; it’s also anticipating solutions to improve the customer’s experience. 


OpenDNS offers a free version of its DNS protective software, but for businesses that rely on enterprise services, the Cisco Umbrella version is significantly more costly than the competition. Additionally, they require yearly (or multi-year) contracts and users can only be purchased in blocks. DNSFilter offers monthly billing and the option to purchase users as needed.

A former OpenDNS customer admits, “We switched from Cisco Umbrella to DNSFilter about 3 years ago, primarily to save some money. We couldn't be happier with the switch.” Another laments that, “OpenDNS went from free to unaffordable under Cisco...It was almost as if the market was conspiring to take away all affordable options.”

What it all means

Considering that OpenDNS has fewer updates, slower response times, impersonal support, and a higher price tag, it’s understandable why customers are seeking out an OpenDNS Umbrella alternative.

When it comes to choosing the right DNS threat protection software for your business, DNSFilter doesn’t just check the boxes—it’s the easiest solution to use.

We’re happy to provide comparisons between other top contenders in the security via DNS space. Check out the following comparisons for more information on how we stack up:

Want the full latest comparison report of all PDNS providers? Check out the DNS Security Benchmark Report of 2021 here!

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