Should you use a VPN or a Smart DNS? What’s the difference between the two? Which is better? These questions are at the center of recent debate surrounding cybersecurity and internet speeds.
As more of our lives move online, the concern for increasing internet security while maintaining speed and performance continues to grow.
Internet-based attacks are regular occurrences and we’re more vulnerable than ever with more stores and businesses offering free unsecured Wi-Fi. Privacy and security concerns are expanding as awareness around these issues spreads.
Additionally, in a world that’s been shrunk by the internet, content restrictions keep the majority of the population from accessing content available to a select few countries. Internet users are unable to stream their favorite shows and movies simply because they live outside of the countries in which they’re available. This practice of geo-restriction has reduced the freedom that the internet is supposed to provide.
Thankfully, both of these issues are not absolute. Through the use of a VPN or a Smart DNS service, blocked content can be accessed and internet security can be restored. The question is how to choose which of these services to use.
This guide will teach you about each of these services and give you the ability to select one that best suits your needs.
We’ll start by defining the two terms to highlight the differences between them.
What Is a Smart DNS Service?
The term Smart DNS describes a DNS server that is responsible for directing a user to a proxy server before a connection to the desired web address is established. The user’s internet connection goes from their computer to the proxy server and then to the DNS servers of the website.
DNS stands for domain name system. As its name would suggest, a DNS server is responsible for linking domain names to their associated data. In other words, DNS servers are responsible for delivering a website’s content to you when you enter a domain name into your web browser.
The DNS address on your device can reveal information about your location. A Smart DNS alters your DNS address to remove any links to your location to make it unknown.
A proxy server is essentially a middleman between your computer and the servers of the website you’re accessing. They can act as a line of defense against hackers and can mask your true location.
Companies offering services that combine DNS servers and proxy servers advertise their product as a Smart DNS service. They generally require users to pay a monthly fee to use this service.
Once users subscribe to such services, they give themselves the tools necessary to access websites that would otherwise be blocked due to location-based restrictions. This is the main purpose of a Smart DNS service, which makes the technology popular in countries where the majority of streamable content is inaccessible.
What Is a VPN Service?
Virtual private networks or VPNs add an extra layer of privacy and security to their public and private network connections. They are usable on home internet connections as well as public connections offered in places like coffee shops and airports.
VPNs work by routing your internet connection through one of their servers before connecting you to the internet. They encrypt your connection and serve as a line of defense against hackers. They can also be used to mask your location and make it appear as though you’re in a different country than the one you’re actually in.
VPNs are fairly simple to set up once you’ve signed up with a VPN provider. They generally require a monthly fee to maintain access to the VPN servers.
Smart DNS vs VPN Services
When comparing Smart DNS services to VPNs, you’ll quickly notice that Smart DNS, unlike a VPN, does not encrypt the user’s internet connection. They also don’t mask your IP address, but they both allow you to access geo-restricted content by making it appear as though you’re in another country.
Since Smart DNS services don’t encrypt the user’s internet connection, they don’t slow down the connection between the user’s device and the website they’re using. The same cannot be said for a VPN, although the reduction in internet speed is generally not drastic.
Smart DNS services are generally used only to provide access to blocked content without reducing internet speeds by altering the device’s DNS settings and routing their connection through a proxy server.
VPNs provide privacy and security while also allowing access to blocked content all at the cost of internet speed reduction.
Which Is Better?
If you want to get rid of all the geo-restrictions that streaming services employ, then the best option is to sign up for a Smart DNS service. It won’t affect your internet speeds, allowing you to stream without waiting for your movie or TV episode to buffer.
Smart DNS services are able to provide access to blocked content without affecting your internet speeds because they don’t encrypt your connection. Your data is unprotected, but it’s able to move faster, giving you a smooth streaming experience.
VPN services, on the other hand, encrypt your connection so your data is protected, but your internet speeds are reduced. They also provide access to blocked content just like a Smart DNS.
The answer to which service is better depends on what you plan to do on the internet and how concerned you are about privacy and security.
Both options will give you access to blocked content, but if the majority of your time on the internet is spent streaming, then a Smart DNS service is likely your best option. You’ll be able to access any content you want no matter what country you’re in and you won’t experience reduced connection speeds.
If the majority of your time is not spent streaming or you’re concerned about the protection of your data, you should use a VPN. While they can provide access to geo-restricted content, their reduced speeds may impact the streaming experience.
A VPN will also encrypt your connection and serve as a line of defense against hackers, which is of growing importance as more and more activities move online.
In short, there isn’t a true answer about which of these two options is better. You need to take your own internet habits into account and make a decision based on your needs.