What is SmartDNS?

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Updated September 22, 2022

If you are new to the world of private networking, you may wonder what is a SmartDNS. Some of the best VPNs, after all, use a SmartDNS proxy in one way or another. So what exactly is a Smart DNS, how do they work, and what are its varied benefits? Keep reading to find out everything you want to know.


  • SmartDNS proxy server systems work similarly to a VPN, but they replace the DNS address and not the IP address when it comes to Internet traffic.
  • These proxy server systems still allow you to get around geo-blocked content so that you can watch streaming content from anywhere.
  • Most SmartDNS offerings and DNS queries are budget-friendly, easy to install, and easy to use, with varied feature sets.

What is a SmartDNS VPN?

A smart DNS is a pseudo-VPN that replaces your DNS address instead of the IP address of a traditional VPN, which is useful when learning what is a server address for a VPN. Smart DNS services still allow you to watch geo-restricted content, just like when learning how to watch Hulu with a VPN. They can be useful as a secondary option when your VPN is not connecting, but they also make for a decent primary option.

Insider Tip

Just as with VPNs, there are free SmartDNS options out there, but check the feature sets before biting the bullet.

This is because Smart DNS systems can do nearly everything a VPN can do, though with certain restrictions, as traditional VPNs are the more robust offering.

Benefits of Using a SmartDNS

There are many benefits to choosing a SmartDNS system, even when compared to a standard VPN.

Streaming Content

Smart DNS systems replace your DNS server address with a new one issued by the app. This allows you to watch streaming content from anywhere in the world, no matter the restrictions in place. This is entirely useful when traveling to another country, as some countries do not allow access to certain streaming apps or feature an entirely different selection of shows and movies. You can also use a VPN for this, and both work well.


VPN systems are not the cheapest option on the block, and Smart DNS systems are slightly cheaper, on average. You lose out on some privacy and anti-hacker tools, but if you primarily use a VPN for getting around geo-restricted content, consider a Smart DNS a budget-friendly alternative.


Modern VPNs are not exactly difficult to use, so long as they feature a user-friendly interface, but Smart DNS systems have a well-deserved reputation for ease of use. These systems tend to be as close to “plug-and-play” as you can get with private network solutions. Download the software, turn it on, and your DNS address should automatically be replaced. That’s it. Now you are ready to surf the web with relative anonymity.

STAT: SmartDNS does not protect your devices the way a VPN connection does. It simply provides access to streaming content. (source)


How to set up and use a SmartDNS?

This depends on your Internet traffic and the design of the Smart DNS itself. Typically, open up one of the Smart DNS services, opt for a secure connection that swaps out the DNS address and not the IP address, and then access online content from streaming services.

How can a SmartDNS benefit you?

A Smart DNS provider or Smart DNS server allows you to access geo-blocked content no matter your geographical location, from the BBC iPlayer to a wide variety of geo-restricted websites.

How to use SmartDNS on streaming devices?

This depends on the current status of your virtual private network, your real IP address, and the smart DNS provider.
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