Easy, affordable, and reliable are three main requirements when it comes to online security. From antivirus software to VPNs, there are many ways to keep your online identity safe and secure. Whether you are looking to make a purchase from Amazon or just want to watch a Netflix or Hulu movie in Australia, services that break through the barbed-wire security protocols are plentiful. There is one service that is making headway, however, and that is the Smart DNS.
What is a Smart DNS?
Domain Name System or DNS is a system in which the internet arranges and handles domain names or website “handles” and assigns them an IP address based on their rank or hierarchy, on the internet. Centrally located servers handle the domains distributed throughout the server locations. IP addresses are a series of numbers assigned to a particular site, and the domain names are the names given to that sequence of numbers. Without a domain name, you would have to remember the IP address for each site you visit1, and since most people cannot even remember their phone number, this system is vital.
Smart DNS uses servers in particular sire-restricted regions that change the IP address of the blocked site and allow access to them2. Let’s say you live in Australia and your sister, who lives in the United States, calls you to tell you that Netflix just added all of the ‘Breaking Bad’ episodes. You, who live in Australia, do not get Netflix. A Smart DNS proxy service will allow you to watch Netflix from Australia because as far as the Netflix servers are concerned you’re logged on from the US.
Smart DNS vs. VPN: The Good and the Bad
While a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is still the reigning king of the online security, Smart DNS is closing in on this cash cow, and fast. A VPN is an excellent source for privacy when it comes to secure files and information such as bank accounts and mailing addresses. But a VPN is also a slower option. The proxies a VPN uses are complicated and slow down performance. Plus, a VPN encrypts everything making the decryption process from the proxy server to the end site even slower. HD streaming can take what seems like forever!
A Smart DNS service only encrypts what it needs, mainly the domain name of the restricted site into an allowed IP address. DNS is compatible with more devices than many VPN services, and installation of the software is much easier3, whereas setting up a VPN can be a nightmare. And then there’s affordability. While some reliable VPN services start at around $9 per month, good, decent, Smart DNS services start at around $3 per month, making this a very affordable option for those who just want to stream an HD movie or play a game4.
The downside to a Smart DNS is that it doesn’t encrypt everything. Your ISP (internet service provider) can still see everything you do and everywhere you go, and there’s no anonymity. Your IP address doesn’t change; only the IP addresses of the restricted sites do2. The choice to use either a VPN service or a Smart DNS is up to you and your needs. Smart DNS is excellent for accessing sites like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Twitter, and Facebook. A Smart DNS service will not be ideal if you travel and rely on hotspots or p2p networks.
A Word of Caution
Accessing restricted sites has made the internet a more global community. But, like everything else on the internet, security is a must. Knowing who you’re dealing with is primary to obtaining a decent DNS. More than a few unscrupulous IP’s are being circulated as Smart DNS IPs. When you use on of these IP’s you don’t know which parts of your traffic are being redirected or intercepted. A few tips to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable service provider are:
2– Look for excellent customer support. Make sure there are several ways to contact the provider, not just via an email address.
3– Check out their jurisdiction; where they operate from.
4– Look at their infrastructure. If your internet speed slows down or becomes unstable and crashes your system, THEY’RE NO GOOD!