DNS – What is it?
DNS stands for Domain Name System and it is used as the medium to translate domain names URL's into their respective numeric IP addresses when a client makes a request query. DNS stores a database of all the domain names and their IP addresses which are registered.
(NOTE: If you know about DNS and just want to grab a trial or an account, click here Unblockr)
A client can be your web browser or an application like Kodi – anything request web pages. You don't normally need to mess with this as your ISP will have supplied a router pre-configured and you connect your devices to it and off you go. Kodi users and most likely torrent users will be more familiar with the need to work around ISP provided DNS, as changing the entries in their DNS tables, effectively blocks sites you want to access.
What we will cover here;
- DNS Blocking
- DNS Logging
- Smart DNS
- Faster Browsing
- Easy To Change DNS
- How Many Devices Can I Use?
- Will it Slow My Connection?
DNS Blocking / DNS Proxy
DNS is a means of translating “human readable” addresses into numerical addresses – so www.fred-blogs.com becomes the IP address, 18.104.22.168, the latter being much less memorable than fred blogs right? However if your ISP intercepts the link from www.fred-blogs.com and puts their own in (you see a block page) you can no longer access the site. Its now blocked to you. Unfortunately they are required to do this, by law, enforced by court order, as I'm pretty sure they don't really care.
If you use an uncensored DNS service, that allows you to view any site, then you won't be chasing round for new “unblocked urls”, Primewire.ag will just work.
Its worth noting here, that as your ISP is processing your site requests, it can also log this, its known as metadata logging and will shortly be kept for a year, as the UK government is enforcing this as part of its anti-terrorism measures. Draw your own conclusions.
So here's the good news, by using a private uncensored DNS service you can access all those blocked sites again. The “smart” part is that it can automatically change your region “on the fly”, allowing you to seamlessly access those blocked sites.
There are several reputable ones to choose from like SmartyDNS and one I've been using a while now, Unblockr. These private DNS services are capable of doing more than just unblocking sites for us to access. They are now holding your browsing data (I mentioned this before), but as part of their service they shred those logs, no more held data on your browsing history! (just check providers do this – its not guaranteed)
These guys also do us another favour, they block off known Phishing and scam sites which whilst I wasn't expecting this, its a nice bonus to have.
The real thing about Smart DNS, is this, they can intercept application requests, like NBC, detect that it needs to be in the US and route your request via a proxy, so the NBC server doesn’t “geo block” you, smart huh?
The good services take requests too, so if you are having issues with an application you need to access, put in the request to be added to the service. This keeps things moving and evolving to suit the users needs.
Faster DNS Lookups
Just one final little bonus, ISP's tend to invest the minimum in their DNS servers, or indeed they just get busy, so the ping (response to requests) time slows down, now this isn’t huge, my tests showed about 60ms response, (miliseconds..!) however, changing to a private DNS, using Unblockr. this dropped to ~25ms, a significant gain in response. This makes web browsing “snappier” and noticeably faster, but for things like Kodi, it can make a difference to big searches like those that occur in Genesis. It just feels – snappier.
I have now upgraded my home system to use a DNS cache on a Raspberry Pi2 and I'll post a tutorial on this as soon as I can. Those wanting a less technical way of adding, a private DNS service to the home LAN to bypass a locked retail router like those supplied by SKY, I can show you a way to piggy back a router and improve the awful wifi too!
Easy to Change DNS?
It is simple enough to change the DNS servers for your devices, which is good for the technophobes and quick for the tech heads. Most providers have guides for this so I won't duplicate it here. It should only take a few mins.
How Many Devices Can I Use it On?
The smart DNS service validate yoru account by your IP, so if you access from home, all devices can use there, no limits. If you leave the house and use your mobile or someone elses WiFi then its limited to devices on that network.
Will It Slow My Connection?
No, unlike a VPN there is no “encryption overhead” no control over the tunnel or how much data you can use. So DNS works as fast as your connection is and it won't suddenly stop in the middle of a movie or football match, thankfully!
Smart DNS Services