Most of us are familiar with DNS, which stands for Domain Name System. DNS translates a website’s domain name into an IP address that computers use to load the web page.
Smart DNS works quite similar to Basic, but it focuses more on redirecting your DNS queries through a remote server, which can be beneficial when accessing the Internet.
But what exactly is Smart DNS, what does it offer and how can you use it? Let’s find out.
What is Smart DNS?
As the name suggests, Smart DNS is about the DNS of your computer, tablet or smartphone. It was developed in 2012 and is now starting to gain popularity, especially with the ever-increasing use of streaming services around the world. However, many confuse Smart DNS with VPNs and proxies. So, let’s define the differences between these.
DNS queries simply request information from a user’s computer to the DNS server. They are usually sent to retrieve the IP address associated with a domain name.
Smart DNS works by hiding your device’s DNS address by redirecting your DNS queries through a remote server. Your device’s DNS addresses are switched from local (usually issued by your ISP) to those of the Smart DNS server.
When you hear the term “remote server” it might remind you of a VPN, but these technologies don’t work the same way. Unlike Smart DNS, a VPN will encrypt and send all of your internet traffic through a remote server, not just DNS queries.
On the other hand, a proxy is simply an intermediary between your device and the internet and redirects your traffic through a remote server. But it’s not as secure as a VPN. The three protocols differ in some respects and have their ups and downs.
However, Smart DNS is not suitable for online security because cybercriminals can still easily access your sensitive data when it is unencrypted. If you’re looking to both hide your IP address and encrypt your data for added security and privacy, consider using a VPN to protect yourself online.
But if another protocol can both hide your IP and encrypt your traffic, why would you use Smart DNS in the first place?
Why use Smart DNS?
Have you ever heard that your favorite TV show or movie was just added to Netflix, only to find it’s only available in another country? This is a common problem that you can fix using Smart DNS. Because Smart DNS hides your DNS addresses, your device can access geo-blocked content that would otherwise be restricted to your region.
But doesn’t a VPN do that too? Why not just use it instead?
Well, many VPN providers offer Smart DNS as one of their features, so you may already have access to it if you have a VPN subscription. Besides that, there are several reasons why some are not used to using VPNs.
For starters, VPNs are still illegal in many countries, which is one of the main reasons many are hesitant to use one. On top of that, VPNs can have a frustrating effect on your internet speed because all of your traffic has to be encrypted before reaching a website. This can be a problem if you want to stream content or games through a VPN. Since Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt all of your traffic, it has a much lower impact on your connection speeds.
So, which are the best providers to use Smart DNS?
The 3 Best Smart DNS Providers
If you want to use Smart DNS, you can do so with or without a VPN provider. As you can see from the Smart DNS sections on the providers’ web pages below, you need to whitelist your IP address without a VPN connection to use the Smart DNS feature. This is because you must disable your VPN to use your provider’s Smart DNS feature, and the two protocols cannot run simultaneously and conflict with each other.
The four providers listed below offer both VPN and Smart DNS services. But we recommend using a given provider only for a VPN or Smart DNS. This is because disabling your VPN instantly reveals your decrypted internet traffic and real IP address to your ISP.
If you tend to do more serious tasks on your computer, but watch a lot of movies and TV shows on your smartphone or tablet, you can keep your VPN active on your computer while using Smart DNS for the streaming. This will ensure that you stay protected when working or shopping online, but don’t have to deal with a slow connection when you want to stream content.
SurfShark is a popular VPN provider that offers a handy Smart DNS feature. Smart DNS comes with the whole subscription package including VPN, and you can easily enable Smart DNS through your app settings. SurfShark will redirect your DNS queries through US-based servers once you activate it.
Unlocator is another great example of a VPN provider that offers Smart DNS. It allows you to appear as if you are in multiple countries simultaneously so you can access any type of geo-blocked content that interests you. Unlocator official site has a page that allows you to see the services you will be able to access using Smart DNS.
You will need to configure your device to Unlocator’s Smart DNS before you can use the feature. You can find out how to do this via the provider’s website.
NordVPN’s Smart DNS lets you access a range of geo-blocked content, as well as services that may not be available in your area. NordVPN requests on its official website that users whitelist their IPv4 IP address, not IPv6, as they do not yet support it. IPv4 and IPv6 are just two distinct versions of IP, with IPv6 being the newer one.
You can start using NordVPN’s Smart DNS feature through the app’s dashboard, but keep in mind that this will require you to disable your VPN.
Smart DNS can be a more effective alternative to a VPN in some cases
Although Smart DNS cannot encrypt your internet traffic and hide your IP address, it is a great way to bypass geo-blocks without dealing with poor connection speeds. So if that sounds like you, check out some of the Smart DNS providers above and enjoy unrestricted content freedom. Most of them also offer a VPN, so it’s a win-win either way.
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