Have you ever gone to pull up your favorite show on Netflix during vacation, only to find that you couldn’t watch it from a different country? Have you gotten frustrated when websites you use regularly appear in a different language or bearing different information when you open them in an airport during a layover?
Content and information on the internet are not as freely available as it may seem. While this can be inconvenient, it stems from the fact that producers of content or information have a legal say-so as to where it is made available.
This is seen most often in the realm of online entertainment, to which access is often restricted based on geographic location. There are many reasons for these restrictions, but we won’t get into them now; it is worth our time to look into the methods used to bypass these restrictions.
Perhaps you’ve been frustrated by streaming services limiting your access to TV shows and music videos in your part of the world. Research into methods of bypassing these restrictions will likely bring you into discussions of VPNs and Smart DNS Proxies. VPN and Smart DNS Proxy services are widely touted as the solution to bypassing geographical restrictions on online content. However, it can be confusing and difficult to decide between the two.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the complexity of your options, keep reading to learn more about the differences between a VPN and a Smart DNS Proxy.
Comparing VPNs and Smart DNS Proxies
Making the choice between a VPN service and Smart DNS Proxy is much easier when you know what to expect from each option. Listed below are some important differences to keep in mind when making your decision.
What’s In A Name?
To understand the ins and outs of VPN and Smart DNS Proxy services, it’s helpful to know what each name means.
“VPN” stands for Virtual Private Network.
The “DNS” in Smart DNS Proxy stands for Domain Name System.
As you can imagine, this indicates that a VPN has a stronger focus on privacy.
What Do They Do?
One of the primary disadvantages of a Smart DNS Proxy lies in the basic difference between a Smart DNS Proxy and a VPN.
The simplest way to explain the function of a Smart DNS Proxy is that it masks your exact location by changing your Domain Name System (DNS). This fools websites into thinking that you are located somewhere you’re not, allowing you to access their geo-restricted content.
However, users need to understand that Smart DNS Proxy is not an online privacy mechanism. You are just as or even more exposed to ISP monitoring, government monitoring, and fraudulent activity online when you use a Smart DNS Proxy.
Smart DNS Proxies do open up geo-restricted content for you, but they do not put any restrictions on your data and content and offer no privacy or protection. Unlike a VPN, a Smart DNS Proxy doesn’t encrypt your data or hide your IP address.
On the other hand, when you use a VPN service to access blocked or restricted content in your part of the world, your network traffic is being rerouted through a server in another part of the world. This intermediary server disguises your computer’s identity from the sites you visit.
This affords you greater privacy, though you are still vulnerable to data monitoring and losing the rights to your own data to your VPN service provider. VPN service is not merely used to bypass restrictions on streaming sites, and often has implications outside of entertainment.
There was a time when all internet use was slow compared to what it is today. This was a source of great frustration for internet users. Even then, however, it was a useful tool. Many current internet users don’t remember the days of waiting a long time for a page to load. However, a VPN can take you right back to the old days.
When you use a VPN service to access blocked and/or restricted content in your part of the world, your network is rerouted through the service provider. This can considerably slow down streaming.
That’s not all: the added effort of rerouting VPN service through an extra server can result in poor quality video and audio. For many, the added time and decreased quality of VPNs are deal-breakers.
While signing up for a virtual private network might seem like a great option for privacy and security, it is often not all it is made out to be. Your VPN service provider has access to your web activity, and there is often a tacit understanding that you use their private service in exchange for your personal or commercial data. This is most likely to happen with VPN service providers that offer use of their private servers for free or cheap.
When it comes to a Smart DNS Proxy, though, let’s just say that it has its disadvantages as well.
Many experts suggest that the use of a Smart DNS Proxy could make you more vulnerable to snooping and hacking. This brings us to DNS hijacking.
When you browse the internet using a Smart DNS Proxy service, your online traffic can be redirected to fake websites where scamsters and hackers are lying in wait, ready to hack into your system and commit some form of online fraud or theft. This is referred to as DNS hijacking.
As mentioned previously, VPN service does not come with the complete assurance of online privacy. However, all things considered, DNS hijacking likely has the potential to cause you more harm.
If you are using any home internet connection, you are likely paying for it. When you opt for a VPN service, you are usually adding an additional payment to the VPN service provider as well. While some VPNs are free, most have a monthly fee. Those considered more trustworthy and more useful often cost more, so it’s often true that you get what you pay for.
For a Smart DNS Proxy of a comparative quality, the cost is usually considerably less.
Ease of use
A Smart DNS Proxy is significantly easier to get up and running than a VPN. This makes sense in remembering that a Smart DNS Proxy simply changes your Domain Name System and misrepresents your location, whereas a VPN routes your web traffic through a separate, private server.
A virtual private network might be child’s play for a private user, but it can prove to be a mammoth task for a business user. If the private network needs to be set up in a workplace setting and multiple devices are involved, setting up VPN is much more complicated. Your VPN service provider might help with the set-up process, but you will likely still be expected to have a strong network management team to manage your private connection network.
On the other hand, a Smart DNS Proxy is rather easy to set up. Smart DNS proxy services do not involve installation of complicated software, and it doesn’t take a professional to manage a Smart DNS Proxy service on a larger scale.
Virtual Private Networks are often used to bypass spying and monitoring of your online activity by your ISP, the government, or other third party entities. Perhaps for that reason, VPNs are not legal in every country.
One way to know if they’re legal in your country is to take note when you are signing up for a VPN service. In countries where use of a VPN is illegal, most provider networks are blocked and restricted by the government. Finding a way around these restrictions and signing up for a VPN service anyway may result in legal consequences such as jail time or heavy fines.
Smart DNS Proxies, however, are perfectly legal.
Because VPN and Smart DNS Proxy services differ, there is a distinct user base for each service.
Users of Smart DNS Proxy are mainly individuals looking specifically for access to geo-restricted content. These individuals often wish to get more out of their paid streaming services. In general, Smart DNS Proxy users are not particularly worried about online privacy.
Alternatively, VPNs are mainly used by those who wish to use open Wi-Fi networks securely. VPN users tend to be more concerned with online privacy, data theft, and monitoring by their ISP, government, or other third parties.
VPNs are also more commonly used on a commercial level, in addition to their use by individuals. They are used for both business and entertainment.
Finding the Right Service Provider
It is easy to see that while both VPN and Smart DNS Proxy services provide access to blocked and geo-restricted content, the ways they get the job done and their primary purposes are very different.
In most cases, Smart DNS Proxy and VPN services are additional benefits to having access to the World Wide Web. However, for some individuals and commercial entities they may be a necessity for their line of work – especially in the case of Virtual Private Networks.
To minimize privacy issues and other complications while using a Smart DNS Proxy or VPN service, the user must be informed and confident of what they are looking for to find the right service provider.
4 Things to Look Out For in Choosing a VPN or Smart DNS Proxy Service Provider
In choosing a VPN service, be on the lookout for stable infrastructure and good reviews to ensure that your speed isn’t too compromised. If other users or former users often complain about the speed, it’s a sure sign that you can’t rely on the internet speeds you’re accustomed to.
Ensure that you have contact info for the VPN or Smart DNS Proxy service that you opt for. This way, any issues can be reported and resolved. If this information is hard to find, it’s likely a sign of poor customer service and availability.
Your VPN or Smart DNS Proxy service should also extend you the facility of a support and troubleshooting team. If they don’t make it clear that this is a service they provide, it may be that they aren’t equipped to tackle any problems that arise.
As you can see, when it comes to a VPN or Smart DNS Proxy, what you pay for is what you get. Privacy issues, slow speeds, and DNS hijacking are all rather commonplace realities when you sign up for “too good to be true” Smart DNS Proxy and VPN services at unbelievably cheap prices.
Moreover, in most cases the VPN or Smart DNS Proxy service is an additional cost to having access to the internet and paid streaming services. You need to decide if the extra cost is worth it for you, your family, or your business.
If your need for a VPN or Smart DNS Proxy service is not overwhelming, it might be best to avoid them. Vague laws surrounding Smart DNS Proxy and VPN services in different countries make them a legal hazard and an uncertain investment. Consider all the pros and cons before signing up for any of these services.
In terms of a competitive comparison between the two, it is easy to see that one isn’t better or worse than the other. It is a matter of choosing the right service for the right purpose and choosing a Smart DNS Proxy or VPN that is secure and effective.