HTML5 DNS prefetch

I often get into some fringe areas of micro-optimizations of website performance, DNS prefetching is another one of those topics.

To understand how this can help, you must first understand the underlying concepts that are used within the communications used to build your web page.

The first of these is a “DNS Lookup”, where the domain name ( is converted into a numerical address, the IP address of the server that contains the file(s).

In many websites, content is included from other domains for performance or security purposes.

When the domain names are known in advance, this approach can save time on the connection as the lookup can fetched in advance, before it is required on the page to retrieve assets.

This can be particularly useful for users with slow connections, such as those on mobile browsers.

<link rel="dns-prefetch" href="//" />

Supported in:

  • MSIE9+ (MSIE10+ as dns-prefetch)/Edge
  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Safari
  • Opera


Cross-Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) Header

Crossdomain access can be enabled in JavaScript with a mechanism similar to that in Flash. Instead of hosting a crossdomain.xml file though, crossdomain access is enabled per file, through an additional HTTP response header:

Access-Control-Allow-Origin: *

CORS is a more modern equivalent to JSONP for cross-domain XmlHttpRequests(AJAX) with options to limit domains, subdomains and ports.

Initial browser support:

  • Firefox 3.5
  • Chrome 4
  • Safari 3.2
  • MSIE 8



Adobe FlashPlayer 7 added several security features. I first became aware of this one as I saw a large number of HTTP 404 errors for a file named ‘crossdomain.xml’ in my webserver logs. (see also clientaccesspolicy.xml)

If you use flash on your website, I’d suggest adding an appropriate copy of this file to limit your exposure to some potential security issues.

Restricted domains

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE cross-domain-policy SYSTEM "">
<allow-access-from domain="*" />
<allow-access-from domain="" />

Open to all domains (not recommended, but fully backward compatible)

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE cross-domain-policy SYSTEM "">
<site-control permitted-cross-domain-policies="master-only"/>
<allow-access-from domain="*"/>
<allow-http-request-headers-from domain="*" headers="*"/>