The Ultimate Guide To SmartDNS Services
What is a SmartDNS?
To understand what a SmartDNS is, we must first establish what a DNS is. Domain Name System (or "DNS") are used primarily to understand and translate domain names e.g. www.facebook.com into numerical Internet Protocol (or "IP") addresses, like 123.45.678.999. This numerical data can subsequently be used by computers and devices to perform actions.
So it makes sense that without a DNS to translate and carry these large, unique numerical data sets (IPs) of domains (like 123.45.678.999), us simple humans would have to remember and store them in our heads. Also, importantly, DNS make it very easy to deal with IP address changes - otherwise when an IP address changed because a company decided to switch internet provider (IP) or physical location, said company would have to figure out a way to make this change known to all visitors to their website. A DNS takes care of this.
A SmartDNS (also known as SmartVPN, Smart DND Proxy and DNS proxy) is essentially -- as the name suggests -- a more sophisticated model of a standard DNS. While a DNS will take the information it is presented with and translate it accordingly; a SmartDNS service actually intercepts the data that defines a user's location (i.e. IP address), and changes this to a region based on the user's preference. The reason a SmartDNS works so effectively at giving users access to content on the web that is "geo-blocked" (i.e. not made available to them because of their location), is because 99% of websites and online services determine a user's location from their IP address. Since a SmartDNS allows you to change this to any location in the world, you get instant access to websites and online services that were previously blocked.
How Does A SmartDNS Work?
A SmartDNS provider essentially enables your online-connectable device to access content that is geo-blocked (restricted from accessing) regardless of your physical location.
Basically you get a SmartDNS of your choice and once you launch it, you are prompted to connect to a server (each SmartDNS provider offers multiple servers all over the world) and at that point you simply select a server location that will allow you access to the content that is currently blocked from accessing on your Internet Service Provider (ISP).
So by using a SmartDNS you are altering what IP address your device shows to the content it is trying to access - changing that IP address to a different one that shows your location as wherever you decide.
It is in setting up this connection to the internet through a SmartDNS on your device that you take control of accessing any blocked content you come across instantly.
SmartDNS Verses VPN
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, are a service that always seem to be mentioned in the same breath as SmartDNS services. This is due to the fact that 99% of people searching for a way to unblock content or stream their favourite TV show are presented with both VPNs and SmartDNS' as viable solutions for this.
The differences between a SmartDNS and VPN are many, however it is possible to whittle down the most significant of these differences to a select few:
As you can see from the above comparison table, the main differences between a VPN and a SmartDNS service are that you sacrifice privacy protection (which VPNs are experts in) for faster speeds and cheaper costs with a SmartDNS.
SmartDNS Verses Proxy
A Proxy service is essentially the middle point between a SmartDNS and a VPN. Proxy services differ from SmartDNS much in the same way as VPNs do, but share more similarities to SmartDNS services than VPNs. Here's a quick breakdown of the differences between a SmartDNS and a Proxy:
As you can see in the above comparison, a Proxy is slightly more difficult to setup; offers at least some level of data encryption for privacy protection; gives slower speeds due to encryption and costs less than a SmartDNS.
Basically if you want a service that is not as expensive as a VPN yet gives some level of data encryption while not losing so much speed compared a SmartDNS - then a Proxy could be your solution.
Things You Can Do With A SmartDNS
BREAK OUT OF RESTRICTIVE NETWORKS
More and more schools, colleges and offices are having restrictions placed on their Internet access. By using a SmartDNS, you are able to bypass these blocks and access the data you want.
SAVE MONEY BY ACCESSING GEO-RESTRICTED CONTENT
One big growing trend with media streaming providers is to charge users to access their blocked media. SmartDNS connections allow you to save money by stepping past such charges and accessing the content for free.
USE SEARCH ENGINES WITHOUT HAVING SEARCHES LOGGED
Google, Bing and Yahoo (plus many more) search engines are open about how much data they track and store from every search query you make. 99% of the ads you see while browsing the web are targeted to you based on your search history. Use a SmartDNS to change your IP address and minimise this.
BYPASS A COUNTRY'S WEB CENSORSHIP IP AND SURVEILLANCE
As with office and school restrictions, there are entire countries that have content filters, blocks and restrictions placed on the Internet at a national level. By using a SmartDNS you are able to take back your online freedom and bypass these blocks.
SmartDNS Service Reviews
Here is a list of the top five best SmartDNS services available today. Definitely check out our in-depth reviews!
$4.16 / month
→ UnblockUS are one of the most popular and widely known providers in the SmartDNS space. They put the time, effort and sophistication into their SmartDNS service - justifying their stellar reputation. We can recommend them enough. Read more...
$4.16 / month
$4.15 / month
→ Of all the SmartDNS service providers we recommend, OverPlay are arguably the most well known. Their name is synonymous with the SmartDNS space and they offer a service that certainly lives up to the hype. Read more...
$4.95 / month
→ UnoTelly offer probably the most comprehensive SmartDNS service of all the top SmartDNS providers we recommend. What they lack in aesthetic professionalism (i.e. website and interface) they most certainly make up for in service. Read more...
$4.16 / month
→ Unlocator are one of the youngest SmartDNS providers we recommend. They are a small team based out of the Netherlands and are improving their already great SmartDNS service every day. If they keep improving as they are, they'll be a SmartDNS that we will truly love and recommend over their competitors. Read more...
Setting up a SmartDNS service on your devices is simple, but it never hurts to have clear, super easy guides to help you get it done. Regardless of whether you are setting a SmartDNS up on your desktop, laptop, smart TV, phone, gaming console or media player -- we've got a step-by-step guide for you!
It is safe to guess that the main reason you are learning about -- and considering using -- a SmartDNS, is because you have lost patience in dealing with the growing amount of geo-blocking that is occurring on content you wish to access online.
Not wanting to lose the speed of your internet connection is a big consideration to keep in mind. This is why a SmartDNS is such a good solution to bypassing geo-blocking, since it minimises any speed loss when you are connected.
Media streaming providers like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora and many more utilise this content restriction process of geo-blocking -- and it can be infuriating...
So lets answer the questions of what geo-blocking actually is and why it even exists in the first place, and most importantly, whether we are breaking the law if we use a solution that removes these geo-blocks.
This is a growing trend with many content providers online, so we want to clarify the most important information regarding geo-blocking. We intend to deep-dive into this topic, but for now - here is an overview of the big picture:
What is geo-blocking?
Geo-blocking is essentially a process that restricts content on a website or online service based on the physical location of the user trying to access it at that moment. For example, if you are online in Romania and you want to access Netflix to watch your favourite TV show - you will be denied access to the service. This is because Netflix check your IP address and determine that you are located in a location which they are not offering their service to yet, or ever.
Why does is exist?
The reason geo-blocking exists comes down to either a website or online service provider's personal preference, or (more commonly with media streaming providers) due to licensing/distribution agreements. If we again use Netflix as an example - the service Netflix actually owns very little (if any) of the media they offer to their users. Instead, Netflix reach agreements with licensing and distribution that satisfies both them and the media owner.
A large part of these agreements comes down to where Netflix agree to "distribute" (i.e. make available) some media, which is why the library of media on the United States version of Netflix is different than the United Kingdom version -- and of course this contributes in part to why Netflix has not yet expanded to some countries, like Romania.
Am I breaking the law when I use a SmartDNS to access geo-blocked content?
SmartDNS Services By Region
Find The Best SmartDNS For You
We have personally reviewed the most popular SmartDNS services on the market today so you don't have to spend time and money on figuring out which is the best SmartDNS for you.
Most Recommended SmartDNS: