Best Smart DNS Services in 2018
Smart DNS services are the best way to watch TV anywhere and unblock websites.
Smart DNS Services Let You Bypass Censorship and Access Blocked Websites
In theory, the Internet defies notions of national boundaries, allowing everyone equal access to the wealth of information and resources available on it. The reality, however, is somewhat different, as content creators seek to maximize their profits through lucrative and highly restrictive licensing deals.
The result is that some Internet users are blocked from accessing content available to other Internet users, or are charged different prices for the same content, based on arbitrary geographic boundaries. These restrictions are not only unfair, but have no place in our modern, globally connected world.
Wanting to sidestep these restrictions is not even necessarily synonymous with dishonesty. Geo-restrictions are especially frustrating for ex-pats, those travelling or studying abroad, or people posted overseas.
It is unsurprising then, that many seek to sidestep these artificial restrictions, using technology to “spoof” their geographic location so that they can access blocked services such as Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and BBC iPlayer from anywhere in the world.
One of the most popular of these technologies is VPN (Virtual Private Network), but another option that is becoming increasingly popular is Smart DNS. In this article, we explain Smart DNS and tell you about the best Smart DNS services.
So What is a Smart DNS Service?
Let’s first look at the DNS part of Smart DNS. The Domain Name System (DNS) is used to translate the ordinary and easy-to-understand web addresses that we humans are comfortable with, into the numeric IP addresses that computers actually use (for example translating www.cogipas.com to 220.127.116.11).
This translation is usually performed by your ISP or an open source service such as Google Public DNS, but with Smart DNS a third party provider does it for you instead. Smart DNS providers run DNS translation servers in different countries around the world, making users appear to be geographically located where those servers are based.
You can probably start to see the similarities Smart DNS has with VPN, but there are some important differences too.
Advantages of Smart DNS Services
Smart DNS has a number of distinct advantages over VPN:
- It is faster, as DNS translation is basically just a matter of cross-referencing addresses in a big database, and is therefore much quicker than processing encrypted VPN data. In practical terms this means there is likely to be less lag when streaming content using Smart DNS than with a VPN. Of course, be aware that streaming over distance will introduce lag, with more lag the greater the distance – blame physics.
- The DNS settings on just about any Internet connected device can be changed, allowing you to use Smart DNS on a much wider range of devices than VPN, including smart TVs and game consoles.
- Services such as Hulu Plus are trying to block access via VPN (by blocking VPN providers’ known IP address ranges). Such measures are ineffective against Smart DNS.
- Smart DNS is usually cheaper than VPN.
Disadvantages of Smart DNS
What you do not get with Smart DNS is all the privacy and security advantages of a VPN.
- Smart DNS will not hide what you get up to on the Internet, or block your activities from being tracked (for example, by advertisers), or prevent you from being hacked while using public WiFi.
If your only goal is to access overseas streaming services and unblock websites, however, Smart DNS is the better option for you. If you do need your internet traffic encrypted and your IP address masked, a VPN will be more suitable.
Bottom Line: Smart DNS is a great choice for accessing blocked content but not for protecting activities such as your torrent file-sharing or Usenet activities.
Best Smart DNS Services
Presented below are the best Smart DNS services today, listed in order by the number of channels supported.
|PureVPN||Smart DNS Proxy||Unblock-Us||IronSocket|
|Monthly Cost (/year)||$4.16||$2.90||$4.15||$4.16|
|Monthly Cost (/month)||$9.95||$4.90||$4.99||$6.99|
|Trial/Money-back Period||No||14-30 days||7 days||7 days|
|# Channel Countries||36||33||21+||21|
|Go to Website||visit PureVPN||visit Smart DNS Proxy||visit Unblock-Us||visit IronSocket|
As you can see above, SmartDNS is cheap and further discounts are available for longer-term plans. It is often also possible to purchase a combined SmartDNS + VPN plan for even greater combined savings.
Subscribers get access to all supported “channels” (streaming services) in the offered countries. This is a great way to access streaming in places like Brazil, India, Japan and UAE.
Not all channels may be supported all devices, so do check the Smart DNS service carefully about which services work with which devices.
In most cases, there will be no limit to the number of devices subscribers can stream over using Smart DNS.
How Smart DNS Services Work
Signing-up is very straightforward, and simply requires providing a username and valid email address. Payment is made via PayPal or credit card.
- if you want to avoid using your personal information, check out some anonymous payment methods
Setting up Smart DNS requires changing your Internet-enabled devices’ DNS settings so they point towards the Smart DNS servers, rather than those of your ISP. This may sound a bit technical, but will be well explained on the provider's website for each supported device (and often includes an accompanying video guide).
Most Smart DNS services will support Windows and Mac OSX computers, Android and iOS mobile devices, most popular gaming consoles, a range of popular streaming devices, and Samsung TV. As far as we know there is no reason why simply changing the DNS settings on other systems (such as Linux) would not also work.
There should also be setup instructions for a number of routers too. Changing your router’s DNS settings will mean that all connected devices will use the new DNS settings, even those that for some reason cannot otherwise be independently configured to change DNS settings.
But Technology Makes it Even Easier
Fortunately, you only need to setup each device one time, as once setup is complete, the Smart DNS service will handle all the necessary DNS routing.
This technology works behind the scenes, so that whenever you visit a supported channel, the Smart DNS service will automatically handle the necessary DNS settings. The result is that you access websites in an entirely hassle-free and transparent way, without having to do anything further yourself.
You can choose which regional version of a service you wish to access through your account settings on the website. You can also disable the SmartDNS service from here if you wish. Settings here apply to all devices connected to your account.
- Top Tip – A great benefit of this system is that you can appear to be geo-located in two (or more) places at once, streaming completely different services from different countries at the same time … which is pretty cool!
Thanks to this technology, you should always be directed to the required DNS server closest to you to ensure the best possible speeds.
Once properly set up, a Smart DNS service should work flawlessly, enabling you to access the full range of supported channels simply by visiting the websites. It is also very fast, and we detected no discernible delays while streaming, even over large distances (although the speed of your Internet connection will be a factor here.)
In addition to extensive setup guides mentioned above for all manner of supported devices, online support centers should feature good FAQs and Q&A sections. If you require further help, almost all services let you post a question to a forum or send a private email to the support team.
Conclusion to Best Smart DNS Services
Smart DNS services do exactly what they set out to do in a super-efficient, and (once setup) entirely hassle-free and transparent manner. It also works on a wide range of devices, and a wide range of services (channels).
If you want to access the world’s most popular streaming services, no matter where you are, and with minimal fuss or slow-down, then a Smart DNS service is right for you.