DNS, VPN, Smart DNS: Unraveling the distinctions

Published Categorized as Tips & Tricks
DNS, VPN, Smart DNS: Unraveling the distinctions. Private internet access openvpn
DNS, VPN, Smart DNS: Unraveling the distinctions. Private internet access openvpn

This guide explores DNS, VPN, and Smart DNS technologies to help you determine the most suitable option for your needs.

DNS vs. Smart DNS vs. VPN

VPNs and Smart DNS are tools designed to modify your online experience, whereas DNS is a fundamental component of the internet. To elucidate their distinctions, we shall begin with a comparative table.

primary roleconverts domain names into their corresponding IP addresses.Strategically directs DNS queries via a designated proxy server.Secures online activity by encrypting internet traffic and strategically redirecting it through a remote server.
privacylimitedlimitedRobust privacy protection through the concealment of your actual IP address
securitybasicNo significant securityEncryption enhanced security
data logging and trackinglargely depends on the specific service providerlargely depends on the specific service providerlargely depends on the specific service provider
costfreeServices are frequently available at no cost, however, premium services that require payment generally provide superior functionality and performance.services may be available free of charge, however, opting for paid services often results in heightened security and improved reliability.
effect on internet speedThe Domain Name System (DNS) server that you utilize can significantly influence your internet connection speedsFrequently accelerates internet connectivity.This software can manage your internet speed more efficiently. It can decelerate or accelerate your internet connection by effectively reducing throttling.

VPN, DNS, and Smart DNS serve unique functions: DNS underpins internet infrastructure, VPN enhances security, and Smart DNS circumvents geo-restrictions. Comparing these technologies is akin to contrasting apples with oranges.

DNS Server: Understanding its Function

DNS, also known as the Domain Name System, functions as the internet’s universal directory, facilitating virtually every online action we perform.

The DNS operates by converting user-friendly website names such as google.com into machine-readable IP addresses, thereby making them comprehensible to computers. Without the existence of the DNS, we would be obliged to commit to memory an extended series of numerical sequences to gain access to every website, consequently making the internet a considerably more unwieldy entity.

If you have not made any modifications to your default settings, you are likely utilizing the DNS provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider).

Is it legal to change your DNS?

Adjusting your DNS to any public server is perfectly legal. This is due to the inherent nature of DNS, it is an essential part of the internet’s infrastructure that is designed to be open and accessible to all. There exists a multitude of public DNS servers, including the widely-used Google Public DNS ( and, CloudFlare DNS ( and, OpenDNS ( and, and Quad9 ( and

There are numerous reasons why one might opt for altering their DNS. For instance, you might desire a DNS server that offers higher speed or reliability than the one provided by your ISP. You might also want to contemplate using a DNS server that has a stronger focus on privacy, such as one that refrains from collecting data about your browsing behavior.

Generally speaking, there are hardly any restrictions imposed on changing your DNS. However, there are rare instances where some ISPs might block access to certain DNS servers.

In totality, altering your DNS is a secure and legal strategy to enhance your internet experience. Nevertheless, it is of paramount importance to be cognizant of the potential risks and to select a DNS server that carries an established reputation for being reliable and trustworthy.

Is changing your DNS safe?

Indeed, it is predominantly safe to alter your DNS settings. In actuality, transitioning to a public DNS server such as Google Public DNS or Cloudflare DNS could potentially elevate your internet experience by enhancing your browsing speed and reliability.

Public DNS servers tend to exhibit greater reliability compared to your ISP’s DNS server. This implies a diminished probability of experiencing downtime or errors while attempting to access sites. This modification could potentially enrich your privacy levels as well.

DNS Leak: Unveiling the Mystery

DNS leaks are a privacy concern and can occur when your internet service provider (ISP) unintentionally gains access to your DNS queries (the websites you’re visiting), despite your desire to keep this information private.

There are primarily two distinct categories of DNS leaks:

  1. Standard DNS leaks: These are situations when, despite being connected to a Virtual Private Network (VPN), your device still sends DNS queries to your ISP’s DNS server. This could transpire if your VPN is inadequately configured or if your device is bypassing the VPN unknowingly.
  2. IPv6 DNS leaks: These take place when your device sends DNS queries over an IPv6 connection while your VPN is only set up for IPv4. This could occur if your device isn’t correctly set up for IPv6 or if your ISP is selectively blocking IPv6 traffic from your VPN.

To guard against DNS leaks, consider implementing the following measures:

Ensure appropriate VPN configuration: It’s important to verify your VPN settings and ensure that DNS leak protection is activated. You may also need to specify certain DNS servers within your VPN settings, although most highly-regarded VPNs offer automatic DNS leak prevention.

Utilize a DNS leak testing tool: There are numerous DNS leak testing tools available online, including BrowserLeaks and DNS Leak Test. These tools can assist you in identifying and rectifying DNS leaks for maximum assurance.

Disable IPv6: If you don’t require IPv6, consider deactivating it in your device’s settings to prevent potential IPv6 DNS leaks.

What is a smart DNS, and what is its function?

Smart DNS is an innovative technology that cleverly diverts your DNS inquiries through an alternative server in a distinctive geographical location, creating the illusion that you are actually in a different country. It’s akin to using a phone directory from another country to obtain the desired IP address.

This ingenious method could be exceedingly useful in circumventing geographic limitations on certain online content. Contrary to Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Smart DNS solely redirects DNS queries, ensuring quicker data transfer speeds and more extensive device compatibility. However, it is important to note that it does not offer the same robust level of security and privacy as that provided by VPNs.

How does Smart DNS function?

Smart DNS operates by strategically rerouting certain DNS queries via a server that you would ordinarily not utilize, known as a proxy server. This principally accomplishes two objectives:

Unblocking geo-restricted content: Smart DNS is capable of enabling you to access streaming services or websites that are exclusively available to specific regions. For instance, if your location is in the United States, you could employ a Smart DNS to gain access to BBC iPlayer, a streaming service that is solely accessible in the United Kingdom.

Enhancing browsing speed: By channeling DNS queries through a proxy server, Smart DNS has the potential to boost browsing speed by optimizing DNS lookup times. This is because proxy servers are frequently situated in varied geographic locations compared to your local DNS server, and they might possess quicker connections to the root DNS servers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Smart DNS


  • Accelerates your internet speed, significantly improving your streaming or gaming experience.
  • Facilitates the bypassing of geographical restrictions, making you virtually appear in a different country than you physically are.
  • Offers an affordable solution to your internet needs and in some cases, it might even be available to use free of charge.


  • Typically requires manual setup, which might be inconvenient and time-consuming for some users.
  • Changing locations is not user-friendly; every desired location change demands a new setup process.
  • Lacks encryption services, leaving your data unprotected and susceptible to breaches.
  • Does not provide the capability to replace your IP address, limiting your online anonymity.

Smart DNS Usage Guide

Implementing and utilizing Smart DNS is a straightforward process, although it typically requires a manual setup. Here’s a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to assist you:

Select a reputable Smart DNS provider.

There’s a plethora of Smart DNS providers in the market, hence the importance of selecting one that boasts a solid reputation and proven reliability. Although using the VPN provides superior security and privacy, the MediaStreamer feature is incredibly useful on devices that don’t support VPN installation.

Register for a Smart DNS account.

After deciding on the most suitable Smart DNS provider, you’ll need to create an account. This step typically entails providing your email address and formulating a secure password. It’s worth noting that some providers might necessitate the submission of payment details, especially if their service requires a subscription fee.

Configure your device.

The precise steps to set up your device may slightly differ based on the chosen Smart DNS provider and the device in question. However, the general procedure involves the following steps:

  • Log in to your Smart DNS account.
  • Locate the setup guidelines specific to your device.
  • Adhere to the instructions to input your Smart DNS provider’s IP addresses into your device’s DNS settings and ensure to save the modifications.

Verify your Smart DNS functionality.

Upon setting up your device, it’s crucial to test your Smart DNS to confirm it operates as expected. This can be achieved by attempting to access a geo-restricted website within your region. If you can access the website without any issues, then your Smart DNS is functioning correctly.

Is it legal to use a Smart DNS proxy?

Utilizing a smart DNS proxy is deemed legal in the majority of nations. These smart DNS proxies function by redirecting your DNS inquiries to specialized servers, hence enabling you to circumvent geographical limitations on specific websites. They neither encrypt your data traffic nor mask your IP address, and typically, they do not engender any legal apprehensions.

Nonetheless, while the use of a Smart DNS as such isn’t illicit, activities undertaken while using one could potentially be. For instance, employing any method to bypass geographical restrictions on copyrighted content might infringe upon a site’s terms of use.

On the whole, the use of a smart DNS proxy tends to be legally acceptable in most jurisdictions. However, there are some exceptions to this norm, and it’s prudent to familiarize yourself with the laws of your country before harnessing a smart DNS proxy to access geo-restricted content.

What exactly is a VPN, and what are its functions?

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) emerges as a supremely user-friendly apparatus, meticulously designed to safeguard the sanctity of your internet traffic. It ingeniously achieves this by formulating a fortified, encrypted link across the internet.

The moment you establish a connection with a VPN server, your sensitive data is funneled through an impenetrable, encrypted tunnel. This complex mechanism is invisible to prying eyes – be they hackers, governmental bodies, or even your Internet Service Provider (ISP), thereby rendering it virtually impossible for any third-party entity to scrutinize or monitor your online activities.

Additionally, a VPN significantly bolsters your online privacy by assigning you a new and unique IP address. This ingenious alteration in your IP address can ingeniously manipulate your digital footprint to appear as if you are operating from a completely different geographical location. This clever masquerade empowers you to effortlessly bypass any form of censorship, granting you unrestrained access to the boundless expanse of the internet.

How does a VPN function?

A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, operates by constructing a fortified and encrypted conduit between your device and the destination server you’re aiming to connect with. When you establish a connection to the internet via a VPN, your data undergoes a two-step process. Initially, it’s encrypted to code your information, and only then is it transmitted through the secure VPN server.

This encryption acts as a digital armor, ensuring that your online activities remain invisible to third-party observers, thereby safeguarding your precious data from any prying eyes. Furthermore, a VPN possesses the ability to obscure your Internet Protocol (IP) address, bestowing upon you the freedom to surf the Internet under the veil of enhanced anonymity. This feature is particularly useful for maintaining privacy and security online.

Moreover, a VPN plays a pivotal role in bypassing geographical limitations. It cleverly does this by creating an illusion that you are connecting from a different location that you can personally select. This feature enables you to explore and access internet content without any geo-restrictions, bridging the gap between you and global information.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Virtual Private Networks


  1. Provides robust encryption for your connection, ensuring a private transmission that is invisible to your Internet Service Provider.
  2. Offers a user-friendly interface, frequently accompanied by a handy app, making it incredibly easy to use.
  3. Changes your IP address effectively, making it appear as though you are accessing the internet from a different country. This enables you to effortlessly bypass any form of censorship or restrictions on school or office Wi-Fi.
  4. Provides a solid layer of protection against various types of cyberattacks, particularly those launched over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.


  1. Acquiring a high-quality VPN service usually entails a financial investment.
  2. It might marginally slow down your internet speed, potentially affecting your browsing experience.

Utilizing a VPN Service

Maximizing your online privacy and bolstering your cybersecurity is made supremely simple with the use of a VPN. Here’s a comprehensive, step-by-step walk-through on how to effectively use a VPN.

Select Your VPN Provider

The market is saturated with a plethora of VPN providers, making it crucial to thoroughly research and select one with proven credibility and a sterling track record. Take ForestVPN, for instance. It boasts a vast network of servers, user-friendly VPN apps, and a proprietary protocol, Lightway, which guarantees robust encryption without compromising on speed.

Register for a VPN Account

Once your VPN provider has been decided on, it’s time to register for an account. This typically requires inputting your email address and establishing a secure password. In many cases, you may also be prompted to provide your payment details, given that a majority of VPN providers operate on a subscription-based model.

Install the VPN Application

With the VPN application downloaded, the next step is to install it onto your device. This process is straightforward and mirrors the installation procedure of any typical application.

Connect to a VPN

Server The VPN application will present an array of VPN servers for you to connect to. Choose a server located in the specific country from which you wish to access content. For instance, if you desire access to content exclusively available in the U.S. or Canada, your server choice should be within one of those countries.

Validate Successful Connection

A successful connection to the correct server is confirmed when you’re able to access a website or content that’s exclusively available from that specific location.

What distinguishes Smart DNS from a VPN?

Smart DNS and VPNs both serve as gateways to access content that is otherwise restricted in your region, albeit with differing methodologies and functionalities.

Primarily, Smart DNS is a potent tool that grants you access to content at high speeds on various platforms such as streaming services, social media websites, and gaming networks. It accomplishes this by ingeniously redirecting DNS queries for the restricted content to servers located in regions where the content is freely accessible. This can potentially boost the speed of your connection, given that the DNS servers being used are faster.

Contrastingly, a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, establishes a secure and encrypted tunnel for your entire internet traffic. It conceals your data and redirects it through a VPN server situated in a distinct region. This ingenious process essentially disguises your actual IP address, making it appear as though your internet access is stemming from the VPN server’s location.

In a nutshell, while a VPN bestows privacy and security benefits upon its users, a Smart DNS, albeit efficient in its primary function, does not offer these advantages.

DNS vs. Smart DNS vs. VPN: Optimal Use Cases

As we have already discussed, DNS, Smart DNS, and VPN each have their unique functionalities. However, they each have specific use cases which can be selected based on your specific requirements.

A regular DNS is optimal for the following scenarios:

  • If you intend to carry out standard internet browsing.
  • If you require quick connection speeds.
  • If high-level security is not a primary need for your internet usage.

A Smart DNS is most suited for the below circumstances:

  • If you need to access geo-restricted services.
  • If the device you wish to utilize for accessing geo-restricted content does not support VPNs.
  • If fast connection speeds are crucial for you.
  • If you do not have a significant need for stringent safety or privacy measures.

A VPN is the advisable choice for the following situations:

  • If you desire an uncomplicated method to access all content while maintaining a greater degree of anonymity during browsing.
  • If you are connecting from countries with high levels of censorship.
  • If you wish to securely connect to public Wi-Fi.
  • If privacy and security are of paramount importance to your internet use.

In conclusion, if you’re seeking a straightforward solution to access content or websites based on geographical locations, a Smart DNS could be your best bet. However, if it is a more secure and robust solution you’re after, a VPN would be the more suitable choice.

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