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What is Smart DNS? A simple guide to understanding how it works

DNSFLEX > Blogs  > What is Smart DNS? A simple guide to understanding how it works

What is Smart DNS? A simple guide to understanding how it works

What is Smart DNS Technology?

Smart DNS is a technology that is used to circumvent Geo-Blocking restrictions that content providers such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC etc.. implement to restrict access to specific Countries or regions. These rules are generally created by publishing companies for distribution licensing purposes. Smart DNS does not provide access to free services, its simply a way to gain access to digital content from anywhere around the world.

What is DNS?

DNS (Domain Name System) can be seen as the phone book of the internet. It translates human-friendly hostnames (like www.google.com or www.youtube.com) into IP addresses.  An IP address is a machine friendly unique address used by severs on the internet to communicate with one another. Imaging having to remember each IP address for every website in the world?! DNS is arguably one of the most fundamental protocols on the internet today.

How does Smart DNS work?

Smart DNS works by replacing your ISP provided DNS numbers with that of a Smart DNS provider such as DNSFLEX. Our DNS servers work the same was as any other ISP, Google, Cloudflare DNS in a sense. The only difference is with a Smart DNS supported DNS server, there are pre-configured filters that automatically detect when you are trying to access a blocked website and will re-route only the selected traffic to a regionally distributed proxy server. The proxy server masks your origin IP and will replace it with an IP address from an accessible location for that particular website.

Take for example a UPS courier, you hand over a box to be transported to another location, you cannot transport it yourself so you ask a middle man to do the shipping for you. Same analogy with Smart DNS, you cannot travel to www.hulu.com from your location since its not allowed from Brazil, you need someone to act as the middle man (proxy) to handle the request for you. You use Smart DNS to locate the destination address, the proxy server is the delivery man handling your packet and passing it along to www.hulu.com. www.hulu.com will see a source proxy server and allow the transaction to occur.

Smart DNS vs. VPN – Whats the difference?

Smart DNS and VPN have one thing in common, they can effectively mask your IP address and they can both be used to access geo-restricted content online in different regions. Aside from that, VPN’s are widely used for security and anonymity whereas Smart DNS provides no protection but offers superior speed and performance. The chart below describes the most common differences between the two technologies.

FeaturesSmart DNS VPN
Hides user IP
Streaming Quality
Access different regions simultaneously
Data Encryption
Requires Software Installation
Supports Unlimited devices
Username/Password Authentication
Works on Consoles & Smart TV
Inexpensive monthly costs

One of the main advantages of Smart DNS is the flexibility and control over what content to watch in different regions all at the same time. There is no requirement to start an app and trying to connect to a country/region for a particular channel, only then to be greeted with “Region unavailable” errors. Quite often VPN IP’s are blocked/banned due to abuse and VPN providers are constantly recycling IP’s which can lead to frustration. Smart DNS takes care of the hassle and only routes relevant network traffic when it needs to unblock a specific domain name. This is important to know, a VPN will encrypt and route all your network traffic, ultimately slowing down your internet by up to 50%, with Smart DNS your network traffic is untouched.

Choosing the right Smart DNS Provider

A few things to be on the lookout when shopping around for a quality Smart DNS Provider:

  • Support and knowledge base
  • The number of unblocked websites
  • Regional support for individual channels (Ie. Netflix US, CA, UK etc..)
  • Automatic IP Updater (DDNS)
  • Long term discounts
  • DNS server locator – latency matters!
  • IPv6 support
  • Internet Security bundles

In summary, if you are only interested in unblocking services and optimal streaming quality, speed and simplicity then Smart DNS is the solution for you. If you are still interested in unblocking services but also network security and anonymous web browsing and dont mind dishing out an extra $10/m then VPN is a good option. We hope you found this article useful, thank you for reading!

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