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What Is SmartDNS and How You Can Use It

What is SmartDNS

If you like to watch movies or shows online you probably know that some of the best channels are locked to users located in certain countries. Take for example Hulu, one of the most popular streaming sites, that is accessible only in United States.

There are several ways to bypass these restrictions, including VPN and DNS services. If you are interested only in unlocking channels than go for a DNS service (aka SmartDNS) as it provides the best speed, which is vital for enjoying the online streaming.

This article explains what SmartDNS is, when you need it and how to install/uninstall it. Further, a useful list of SmartDNS providers is included.

What is SmartDNS

SmartDNS is a technology that allows the access to blocked streaming websites like Netflix, Hulu or BBC iPlayer. Basically, it tricks geo-restricted websites to see you as you were in the appropriate location.

To get more technical, the term Smart DNS describes a DNS (Domain Name Server) that directs clients to a proxy server for an predefined list of websites and services. A connection between an device (desktop or mobile) and the website which contains the blocked content is established via the proxy server. The proxy server plays the role of the middle man and in order to be able to unlock the desired website or channel has to be located within the approved areas (for example, in order to unlock Netflix the proxy has to be located in US).

What you need to run SmartDNS

SmartDNS can be run on most operating systems on both desktops and mobile devices. In order to be able to use a DNS service you don’t need to install anything. Some of the providers offer small and easy to use apps that automatically configure you computer, but they are simply optional. The setup can be done manually in less than 5 minutes.

List of SmartDNS providers

There are several good providers of SmartDNS, some of them offering also VPN. This may be a good thing as VPN can be an alternative to SmartDNS. Thus, if SmartDNS is temporarely down you may anytime switch to VPN.

Basically, all DNS services offer the same service and the price range is quite similar. So, how can you choose between them? You should look for the channel or channels you are interested in. Most of the services unlock channels from US and UK, but there are some (like Overplay) that works with channels from more than 20 countries.

You may find below a list with several good Smart DNS services:

VPN Provider SmartDNS VPN Price
Overplay Yes Yes $4.95 / month for SmartDNS, $9.95 / month for both VPN and SmartDNS
ibVPN (ibDNS) Yes Yes $4.95 / month for SmartDNS, $7.95 / month for both VPN and SmartDNS
PureVPN Yes Yes $9.95 / month for both VPN and SmartDNS
Unotelly Yes Yes $4.95 / month for SmartDNS, $7.95 / month for both VPN and SmartDNS
Unblock-US Yes No $4.99 / month for SmartDNS

How to install SmartDNS

Before starting the installation of SmartDNS you need to get the IP of the DNS server you are going to use. It is provided at signup and may be different depending on the channel or channels you want to access.

In order to install SmartDNS you need to modify the DNS server address from “Adapter Settings”. For example, in Windows 8 this can be done as follows:

  1. From the Start screen, click the search spy glass and search for “Control Panel”.
  2. Click on “Network and Internet.”
  3. Next, click on Network and sharing Center.
  4. Click on “Change Adapter Setting” on the left.
  5. Right “Click your network adapter” (this is normally called Local Area Connection or similar), and choose “Properties”.
  6. Double “Click Internet Protocol Version 4”.
  7. Select “Use the following DNS server addresses”, and enter the DNS server provided.

More detailed tutorials (including screenshots) may be found on the SmartDNS providers setup pages: Overplay, ibVPN / ibDNS, Unottely, Unlock-US.

How to uninstall SmartDNS

In order to uninstall SmartDNS you have to remove the DNS IP you setup when you started to use the service.

Can you run Smart DNS on mobile devices (iPhone/Android)?

Yes, you may use it on a large variety of devices including iPad/iPhone and Android devices. Every provider offers detailed tutorials to help you setup your mobile device.

Can I use SmartDNS with a router?

Yes. If you have a router in your home you may setup SmartDNS on your router and unlock restricted websites on all computers or devices that connect to the Internet through it.

SmartDNS vs VPN

Basically, the Smart DNS is faster that VPN, but it does not provide any encryption or protection against Internet threats. Take a look below to a more detailed comparison:

SmartDNS VPN
Speed loss None Varies
Connection Depends only on your regular Internet connection. Depends on server location, server load and other factors.
Reliability Very good Fair
Privacy protection None Yes, the connection is encrypted.

Conclusion

SmartDNS is an excellent solution to unlock geo-restricted websites and there are plenty of services that offer it for less than $5 a month, a fair amount for watching your favorite shows.

P.S. If you know other good SmartDNS provides please let us know in the comments.

Update: ibVPN has recently publish a nice video that explains how to choose between VPN and SmartDNS:

 

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