If you like streaming content when overseas or want to protect your privacy while browsing the web, you may well have come across the terms Smart DNS or VPN. Depending on your requirements, one works better than the other. Choose the wrong one, and you’ll be disappointed at the very least. After reading this post, however, you’ll have a good understanding of how they work and be able to make an informed choice.
With this in mind, let’s look at what SmartDNS and VPNs are, and how they may or may not protect your computer from hacking and privacy violations.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and Your Computer
VPNs were first adopted by the business world to keep their computers, smartphones, and tablets as secure as possible. Today, with more people having privacy concerns and hacker attacks on the rise, VPN use among the general public is increasing. They work by connecting to a third party server, and data is passed back and forth between this server via an encrypted tunnel. This makes connections far more secure than going through a regular server.
With the demand increasing for streaming services such as Netflix, many use VPNs to access content that is unavailable in their home country. A good VPN network can bounce connections around the world so accessing American Netflix while in Belgium, for example, should, in theory, be possible, and for a long time, it was.
Netflix et al. realised that many were accessing the content this way and due to copyright and content licensing laws developed ways to block VPNs, making streaming content to a computer impossible.
As VPN’s hide your IP address, this could be how Netflix and other content providers determined that a VPN was in play and blocked the content on your Windows computer and other devices.
If you have privacy concerns and do not want Google and other big corporate businesses learning every detail of your life, a VPN provides the best solution available on the commercial market.
Smart DNS and Your Computer
The domain name system or DNS is the phonebook or phone contacts of the internet. When you type in a domain name, say pctechguide.com the DNS kicks in and translates it to an IP address allowing your computer to connect to the site.
When you deploy a SmartDNS, your computer or device accesses a Smart DNS server. This connects to proxy servers around the world. The advantage here is that for all intent and purposes, you are in that region and can access content that is blocked in your actual country. This is one of the reasons SmartDNS came into being.
SmartDNS is not a private network and is no more secure than accessing a regular server. Your IP address is still visible, and this is probably why streaming services unlock content in overseas regions.
So far, SmartDNS is the only reliable way to stream content from other countries to your computer and other devices. Content providers seem to be wise to how VPNs work but so far have not come up with a method of blocking a SmartDNS.
If you travel for work or spend a lot of time in other countries, a SmartDNS is really the only option to access content in your home country.
The Differences between a Smart DNS and VPN
Now we have explored how a VPN and SmartDNS works, let’s take a look at the key differences:
- VPNs are designed to protect privacy. A Smart DNS is designed to unblock content.
- A VPN offers the best privacy protection while browsing the web. Ideal for public networks and other places where your computer, phone, or tablet is vulnerable to a hacker attack. They shield your data so the virtual spy can’t see your information. Smart DNS offers no additional protection from standard browsing, so care should be taken when using a SmartDNS over public and unsecured networks.
- A VPN is not great at unblocking region-locked content such as TV and films offered by Netflix. This was not always the case, but as we have seen, they seem to detect when a VPN is in play and is able to block content. A Smart DNS has no issues here as the IP address is visible and as far as Netflix is concerned, the content is accessed from within the correct region. This is true with other content providers such as the BBC.
So What’s Best?
This question is really down to your requirements. If you just want to unblock region-locked content and are not too concerned about protecting your life from prying eyes, a Smart DNS is clearly the way forward.
If you are more concerned about strangers viewing your life as a soap opera, then a VPN is for you. When you way up the pros and cons and depending on the nature of your life, you may want to consider both options so you can get the best of both worlds.