Smart DNS was one of the newest solutions for accessing the big media sites when you were deemed to be in the wrong location. So Hulu subscribers used it on holiday, BBC viewers used it when outside the UK and it opened up the Pandora’s box of Netflix regions. It had some advantages over proxies and VPNs as well as some drawbacks. The main plus point for Smart DNS was that it could be used on just about any device as long as you could access the network settings.
There was no real need for direct authentication, no installation of a VPN client which meant it was perfect for the plethora of media devices we use today to stream our video and audio content. For example, you can’t use a VPN with an Xbox one simply because there’s no way to install the software directly. Plus you couldn’t set it up manually as there’s no way to enable the authentication that is used on a proper VPN.
However all that is irrelevant with Smart DNS, as you don’t need any software it’s all configured via a DNS server. Normally your internet connection is unaffected, name resolution is performed as normal until the request is received for a ‘region locked’ website like Netflix. See how it works here in this demonstration – Smart DNS Netflix, which shows you how to configure it which takes about two minutes.
It’s simple to use however you should remember that it provides no security component at all, a VPN encrypts and protects your data simply using a specially configured DNS server does not. So if you’re using from abroad over public or insecure wifi connections then be careful, don’t access sites like banking, webmail or other important sites from these connections.
Unfortunately there is one other problem with Smart DNS and that is it’s relatively simple to block. Which is why in the great Netflix purge that happened a few months ago it also took down every single DNS solution for Netflix. That’s starting to change now and the link above does contain the first Smart DNS solution which has been fixed, I believe it took a lot of effort and expense though so who knows if Smart DNS has a long term future for bypassing region locking. Of course the real solution is to stop blocking, filtering and locking the world wide web – let people access what they wish. Especially with subscription services like Netflix which you actually have to pay for then find you can’t access simply because of your location!!