Smart DNS vs VPN

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Updated August 29, 2022

If you are new to the world of private networks, you may look to compare smart DNS vs VPN offerings. Some of the best VPNs, after all, are actually DNS systems, so both have their place in the digital landscape. Which is best for your specific streaming and web surfing needs? Keep reading to find out.


  • Both smart DNS proxy servers and VPNs allow you to access geographically restricted content, albeit in completely different ways.
  • Dedicated VPNs offer increased privacy and encryption of your Internet connection, whereas DNS proxy servers are just for cloaking your location during online activity.
  • DNS servers tend to be on the cheaper side when compared to full VPNs, though some VPNs include a DNS proxy server as part of the overall package.

VPN vs Smart DNS

The differences between the two lay in how they handle the job of allowing access to region-locked websites and services, which is similar to when comparing a VPS vs a VPN. A smart DNS replaces your current DNS address with a new one while retaining the same IP address, similar to comparing the Tor browser to a VPN. VPNs, on the other hand, give you an entirely new IP address in addition to offering some basic encryption if you are comparing a remote desktop vs a VPN.

Insider Tip

No matter which you choose, make sure to change passwords for increased privacy protection regularly.

This initial contrast spins out into differing advantages and disadvantages of each service depending on what you need it for, similar to when comparing SDP vs VPN offerings.

Combined Functionality

If you want the best of both worlds, meaning DNS address replacements and brand new encrypted IP addresses, choose a comprehensive and integrated service. This means you’ll have to go with a VPN that offers a DNS component, which is not uncommon among well-regarded offerings. The reverse, however, is not true, as you won’t be able to find a smart DNS with an integrated VPN as an added bonus. If maximum protection is important to you, go with a VPN/DNS hybrid.


VPN services offer encryption as part of the overall package, so if you want to completely hide your Internet traffic from prying eyes, such as hackers, go with a VPN. Smart DNS services do not offer encryption, as they just change up your domain name server so you can access geo-locked content. In other words, for better online privacy, a dedicated VPN is your best bet.


A really good VPN tends to be more expensive than most smart DNS services. If you want to save a few bucks and plan on using the service just to get around geographic restrictions, go with a DNS. Many DNS offerings are actually free. There are also free VPNs, but these tend to offer limited feature sets.

STAT: DNS servers store IP addresses, so you don’t have to memorize them. There are millions of DNS servers out there, so without DNS, the internet would be a wild and complicated mess. (source)


How do I choose a smart DNS or VPN?

Choosing a smart DNS proxy or VPN depends on your personal needs and which online services and streaming services you regularly use. Talk to DNS providers for more information and keep your Internet service provider up to date with any new purchases.

When do I use a smart DNS?

Access a smart DNS proxy for geo-restricted content or anytime you want to hide your actual location. A VPN server, or virtual private network, does that and also offers encryption, despite reduced Internet speed.

Is changing DNS legal?

Yes, it is legal to engage in a smart DNS proxy, though using on to access geo-restricted content or geo-blocked content may not be. Check with local laws and regulations for more information.
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