Are you an expat? A travel-bug? Someone who’s Instagram account says “Wanderlust”? If so, you might have run into one of the annoying aspects of moving: Geoblocked websites. Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer, for example, have something called “geolocation restrictions”. In other words, if you’re out of certain countries, you lose access to their content.
What Is A Smart DNS Proxy
If you’re subscribed to a service like the ones mentioned above, this could get very annoying. One of the ways in which you could bypass and unblock these geo-restrictions is by using a Smart DNS proxy. I’m going to walk you through everything there is to know about Smart DNS to show you why it might be an option for you.
What is a Smart DNS?
A Smart DNS, also known as a Smart DNS proxy, is a service you can get which is specifically made to unblock geo-restricted sites. Unlike a VPN, a Smart DNS only re-routes data specific to your location to give you access to regionally blocked websites. It does not provide more security online. It doesn’t encrypt your data or offer you anonymity online. I can’t stress this enough; Smart DNS proxy is specifically tailored to only unblock geo-restricted content. In other words, if you’re looking for a way to browse the web anonymously or keep your torrent downloads to yourself, do not use Smart DNS!
How Does a Smart DNS Proxy Work?
Let me start by explaining what a DNS is. A DNS, short for Domain Name System, is like a phone book. It is how websites and computers read domain names; it changes the language-based name into an IP address the computer can recognize. A Smart DNS uses dedicated proxy servers to change the DNS of your device. It’s important to note that it doesn’t actually change or hide your IP address. To put it simply, it changes how a website reads your IP address.
VPN v/s Smart DNS: What’s the Difference?
Both a VPN and a Smart DNS can give you access to geo-blocked sites, but that’s where the similarities end. A VPN is a service that provides you with a high level of security and anonymity online. It encrypts all of your traffic, re-routing your information through a private “tunnel” where no ISP, government body, or pesky hacker can get access to it. VPN applications usually work on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Android. Sadly, a VPN will end up slowing your internet connection a little. Here’s a very handy guide on all you need to know about VPN to get you up-to-date with this now-vital service.
There are a lot of free VPN services out there, but to guarantee the level of anonymity and privacy VPN users look for, a reliable and certified VPN should be used. I recommend using ExpressVPN: It provides complete anonymity (zero log policy!), is faster than most other VPN services, has over 2000 servers in 94 locations around the world, and one of the best customer services I’ve ever run into. It is a little pricey, but 100% worth every penny.
A Smart DNS proxy is more of a single-minded service. It gives you access to geo-blocked content but does nothing in terms of protecting your data online. The advantage a Smart DNS has over a VPN when it comes to unblocking geo-restrictions is that it is configurable on almost all devices. Additionally, you will not suffer from unnecessary speed drops while browsing websites that aren’t geoblocked as your Internet traffic will not be passing through any proxies in that case.
Smart DNS can work on PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, Chromecast, and more. One of the main reasons many people choose this service over a VPN is the price, it’s a lot cheaper to purchase a Smart DNS subscription. Of course, it’s not all fun and games: you need to be a little tech-savvy to configure a Smart DNS.
Best Smart DNS
Personally, I’ve been using Unlocator for a while now and I couldn’t be happier, here’s why:
Completely transparent Terms of Service.
No log policy
Works on PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox, Smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, Android, iOS.
Unblocks over 200 channels and streaming services, including American Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Go, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Sky Go.
Does not slow down your internet connection.
Has no limit for how many devices you can connect it to.
My favorite: Includes a Smart VPN service to protect you from DNS hijacking AND enable mobile connections.
Unlocator also offers a 7-day free trial (you don’t even have to use a credit card) and a 14-day refund policy. It’s pretty cost-effective and provides an exceptional service to boot. Check out our Unlocator review while you’re at it.
I know, I know, this is a VPN service. The reason why ExpressVPN has made it on my list is that it also has a provides Smart DNS proxy service. It may be more expensive than a regular Smart DNS, but the added layer of privacy and anonymity makes it worth it. Read our official review of ExpressVPN to get a more comprehensive idea of what this service provides.
Same as with my second choice, BulletVPN is a VPN service that has a Smart DNS proxy. BulletVPN is also one of the cheaper VPN services out there, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t live up to its competitors. This affordable service provides the same privacy and anonymity online as the other top-tier VPNs, even though it has a much lower amount of active servers. If BulletVPN seems like the service for you, here’s a more in-depth review of all of its features and functions.
Is Smart DNS Legal?
In a nut-shell, yes. There is absolutely nothing illegal about changing your DNS. Whatever you do after, however, is up to you. Remember, it does not offer you privacy online, your information is not encrypted. Your ISP or government body can still get access to your data, even if you’re using a Smart DNS.
Be careful when using a Smart DNS if your ISP provider uses transparent proxies or if you reside in a country that applies DNS hijacking. Such measures can prevent Smart DNS from functioning properly.
What Channels Can I Unblock with Smart DNS?
The number of geo-restricted channels you can access with Smart DNS solely depends on which Smart DNS proxy service you are using. Different services support unblocking different channels. Here are some of the websites you get to unblock using Unlocator for instance:
Amazon Prime Video
It’s also worth mentioning that Smart DNS only helps you bypass regional restrictions. You still need a valid subscription to the channel you wish to unblock where applicable.
Final Thoughts – Is a Smart DNS Proxy Worth it?
If you’re looking for a way to watch geo-blocked content and don’t really care about being anonymous online, a Smart DNS is a cheap and easy way to get that done. Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself and let me know what you think in the comments.
A reader, writer, and avid internet user. Hiba has spent the better part of her adult life looking for ways to have a safer and more user-friendly online experience, all while praising the uses of VPN connections to anyone who would listen.