Smart DNS services have skyrocketed in popularity among streamers who want to bypass geo blocking. More and more people are streaming media content, and no one has the patience for all too common geographical restrictions. Now that Smart DNS has become a commonly used tool, services that offer it have mushroomed as well. It can be quite difficult for regular consumers to understand which services are good. This article will explain how to choose a reliable Smart DNS service that is suitable for your individual needs.
It’s important first to consider what a Smart DNS proxy is. If you don’t already know, Smart DNS services are web proxies that allow you to trick certain websites into believing that you are accessing from a particular location. For example, if you are located in China but want to get full access to the Netflix library, you can use a web proxy.
When you regularly connect to the internet, the web requests your computer or the devices you are using generates are sent through your ISP’s servers. The server your ISP connect your computer is located close to you to ensure a speedy connection. The device you use will have an IP address generated with this location information. Therefore, it’s easy for websites to pinpoint which country you are connecting from.
When you use a web proxy, you will be using an IP address that does not contain information regarding your real location. Your ISP servers will still process the web traffic, but the websites themselves will not be able to tell where the servers, and you, are located. It’s a form of harmless deception that allows users to unlock web content that has been blocked in certain countries.
All web proxies function the same way. But the services and perks associated with each may differ. Therefore, use the suggestion below to choose the best smart DNS services for your needs:
Assess What You Plan to Do with the Smart DNS Service
Do you want a Smart DNS web proxy to unblock Netflix when traveling or access other content restricted due to geographical location? That’s what DNS web proxies are best used for. You can also use a web proxy to access content that your employer, school, or any other organization has blocked. For example, if your employer blocks access to Facebook at the office, you can use a web proxy to get access easily. Some users may also require other services, such as increased anonymity online or the ability to browse the web without being traced. Smart DNS proxies are not suited for these needs.
If you are seeking enhanced security and privacy online, you should consider getting a virtual private network, or a VPN as it is commonly known. VPN packages come with some perks like end-to-end encryption that makes web browsing more secure. Smart DNS services do not offer these features on the same level.
In a nutshell, choose a Smart DNS server if you are a streamer, web surfer, or a gamer who just want to access geo blocked content online.
Is the Service Free or Paid?
There are near equal numbers of paid and free web proxy services. (Even Google is offering a web proxy for free.) In case you are wondering why you need to pay for something you can get for free, the answer is security. Free web proxies can be useful, but you shouldn’t assume that the data you are sending through the proxy is not being intercepted. If you are just using the web proxy to access a web page restricted in your country, that’s probably fine. But if you are logging on to a streaming website or any other site when you are using the proxy, then you could be in trouble.
Some free web proxies have dubious ownership. They could be run by cyber criminals or spy agencies to collect data. For example, say you use a web proxy to access Hulu’s complete U.S. catalog. And you log on to your Hulu account while still connected to the free proxy. The free proxy could very well steal your username and password.
Free web proxies are not trustworthy, so you should not rely on them if you are concerned about online security. Paid services are more reliable in that you can know who is running the web proxy for certain. Paid proxies may offer extra perks that free proxies don’t, so that’s all the more reason to choose a paid web proxy.
Know the Number of IP Addresses and Countries Available
When you use a web proxy, you don’t have to download any software like you need to with a VPN. Instead, the proxy server provides you with a list of IP addresses and the countries these addresses originate from. When you choose a proxy service, it’s important to understand how many are available. The more IP addresses and the countries there are available, the better it will be.
This is particularly important if you are paying for your proxy. Do you want to pay a monthly subscription to get 5 IP addresses in the U.S.? Look for a variety of countries offered. Even if you want only to unblock U.S. HBO Go, you will get more bang for your buck if you choose a service that provides IP addresses from many other countries as well.
And major locations like U.S., Britain, and Australia should have more than one IP address. That’s because these places get more traffic. So if one server is overwhelmed, it’s best to have the option of choosing another at the same location.
How Many Devices are Supported by the Service?
Web proxies are not only for computers. You can use a web proxy on your smartphone, tablet, gaming console, smart TV, a streaming device like a Roku box, or even your router. However, not all Smart DNS services are available on all these devices. Some are available only on a computer, and others are limited to a computer and phone. An excellent proxy service will offer many device options to use as you please.
If you are a streamer, it will be more convenient to choose a service that offers IP addresses for computers, handheld devices, and also smart TVs. If you are a gamer, you will need to look for web proxies with IP addresses for gaming consoles. Before you pay for a subscription, do check these specifications.
Also, you will have to make sure that the IP addresses provided will work on the particular device you have. Different devices require different setup procedures to change the IP address. When the proxy service offers an IP address, it should also come with a set of instructions on how to install on the type of device and operating system you have.
Check Security Features
Smart DNS services do not offer security features in the same way as VPN packages do. However, reliable services do provide some security features that make using the web proxy safer. Some services offer a level of encryption and malware protection. Other services will have company policies on not retaining user information or logging user activity conducted via the proxy. You can look for these features to ensure that you are browsing the web safely.
However, do not trust web proxies that proclaim to make you “anonymous” online. Web proxies cannot completely erase your online footprint. Therefore, choose a reputed service that does not make bold and unsubstantiated claims.
Look for High Number of Unblocked Websites
Some websites may outright block certain smart DNS proxy services. So it’s important to know that the service you are purchasing works on the sites that you want to access. Go to the web proxy site and check out the number of streaming services and websites the proxy can unblock. If it’s not listed, ask a customer rep whether the proxy works for the sites you want to access.
It may also be necessary to find out if the web proxy is banned at your location. Some countries, like China, ban certain VPN and web proxy services. So if you plan to access BBC iPlayer from China, you might want to know in advance if the web proxy you have subscribed to is allowed in the country. Keep an eye out for these things before you pay for a service.
Customer Support Availability
This is an important feature when paying for any service. Make sure the Smart DNS service you choose offers customer support by phone, email, or live chat. Live chat is the most convenient, but any customer support is better than none.
It’s highly recommended to use a service that offers a trial run before you commit. You can check out if the trial version works in the countries you want and with the sites that you want to access.
Do research the service well as suggested above before you end up paying for a subscription. Pay monthly instead of annually so you can cancel your subscription quickly if the service is not satisfactory.