SmartDNS is a great alternative to VPNs for users who solely seek to unlock video and music streams, or other geographically blocked content, with virtually no loss of speed. Since SmartDNS setups simply utilize dynamic, constant changing DNS server addresses with no encryption involved, it really has little to no impact on bandwidth. Unblock-Us offers arguably the best SmartDNS service out there, but why pay when you could search for free DNS addresses online?
Changing your DNS manually is a common thing to do to circumvent geo-locked websites, or when trying to troubleshoot access to an open website, but manually entering DNS servers can often lead to lots of frustration when the new addresses fail to unlock regions after multiple tries. The free DNS IP addresses that can be found by web searches often lead to shady websites containing malicious code, and are often ineffective. With time, streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu and so on, have developed technologies to block these types of DNS tricks. Additionally, public DNS server addresses are often scanned and blocked before you could even use them. This is where Unblock-Us comes in, and makes life easy for everyone.
How It Works
With SmartDNS services, you will be provided with new DNS IP addresses to use, however, you will never be required to change them again. The one-size-fits-all servers will dynamically change the backend DNS addresses, allowing you to access most regions with no additional changes. Netflix requires you to select your region on the online portal in order to counteract their protective measures.
Most SmartDNS providers operate through their online website after manually setting up the DNS servers on your device. Although software clients are still often offered, they often only serve the purpose for setting up the DNS for you, as well as turning the service on or off. Once setup, the user logs onto the website to select a region for Netflix, or browse through the various listed channels, streaming services available. Unblock-Us does a fantastic job of making the experience as easy and seamless as possible.
The ease of use and setup really sticks out. For starters, setup tutorial videos quickly get you setting up your device of choice. Each video walks you through a simple, step by step process to quickly change your DNS server IP addresses, and how to get them to start working right away. The videos are straight to the point and only last 3 minutes or so.
In case your device does not support DNS changes, keep in mind that you can also opt to setup the SmartDNS address directly on your network router, enabling Unblock-Us on all wired and Wi-Fi connected devices. Setting up your router also saves time from having to configure anything individually. And yes, Unblock-Us provides setup guides for over 10 router brands and ISP gateways.
Once you have your DNS configured, the online portal lists all the popular to lesser known channels and streams. More than 100 unlocked channels are offered across various categories. All the major Video on Demand services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Blockbuster Now, just to name a few. Parents will be pleased with a Kids section with a complete Disney channel collection and Marvel.com for the super hero geeks. Loads of channels are found under the TV category to keep up to date with your shows. And, all the popular music streaming platforms are listed as well.
In the case of Netflix, changing region is very easy. The home portal presents a bar that verifies your account, and if your DNS is properly configured, and as a third step, you simply select one the country of your choice from the drop-down menu. The service currently covers 19 Netflix regions.
What about sports? After testing Unblock-Us for the last two weeks, I am very much pleased with their sports category. Almost 30 networks are available covering all the important events. But, what made my experience better, was the quick dropdown information that advised if a paid subscription was required for the network, as well as supported devices. This eliminated any time loss browsing for information, or worse attempting to stream from an unsupported gaming console for example.
There is no limit to how many devices can utilize the same SmartDNS account, but DNS servers cannot be shared across multiple internet connection locations.
Unblock-Us SmartDNS service starts at $4.99 per month, or a yearly subscription at $49.90 brings the cost down to $4.16 per month. After testing the service for two weeks and going over all the features, I think it’s a great deal for the online streaming audience.
The service works well, but you still get a 7-day trial to test it for yourself, free of any obligation or payment information. If you decide to purchase the service, only two payment methods are accepted; Paypal or Credit Card.
As expected, virtually no loss of speed occurred during my various tests. SmartDNS is not supposed to have a negative effect on your internet speed, and Unblock-Us was no exception. This is simply because changing your DNS servers does not change or encapsulate your web traffic, in merely tricks online services into thinking your located elsewhere. With that said, it does not mask your IP address either. If you want to encrypt and secure your data, as well as mask or change your IP address, I suggest you check out a secure VPN service instead, which in turn also allows you to unlock worldwide content.
Unblock-Us was impressive on this end. Once again, stating how great the setup guides are, the website also includes a complete FAQ, with Q&A sections displaying the latest user questions or allowing you to post your own. If you prefer not to ask your question in public, a quick email form is also present, allowing you to contact their various departments.
They pride themselves on giving the best possible service and stand behind each customer call by publicly displaying their current satisfaction rate out of the last 100 customer ratings under their ‘About’ page. Now that’s cool!
Using Unblock-Us requires you to manually configure almost all of your devices one by one, or setup your internet router once, for all connected devices instead. A software client is offered for Windows only. Although this makes a big part of the user base, it would be nice to have software for Apple’s OSX, or mobile apps that do the job for you. With that said, it’s extremely easy to change your DNS servers, and with the excellent quality of the video setup guides Unblock-Us provides, anyone can do it in under a minute.
However, the one downside I can’t get over, is having to manually remove the DNS change, in case you want to go back to your original ISP provided DNS. Truth be told, most users don’t want, or even care about being able to turn the SmartDNS service on or off, but I like the idea of being able to revert back to my original DNS delivery. The Windows software allows for this, and I would particularly find it useful on mobile devices, but that’s just me.
In the end, you really don’t need software for SmartDNS, and on the other side of the coin, I hate loading computers with a bunch of flutter and apps. Having no need for software is actually a very good thing when you come to think about it.
I have to say that I was strongly surprised by how well it worked. Unblock-Us is an alternative to VPNs for unlocking web streaming services if all you care for is streaming. Although many good VPN services can often provide excellent speeds, with Unblock-Us SmartDNS, you’re not going to have any degradation since there’s no encryption to apply on the data. If encryption, security and privacy are not at all on your list, this service could not be any better tailored. The list of channels just goes on and on, I spent hours browsing through them, finding all the best free ones in my line of interests. Movies, sports, music or TV, Unblock-Us likely has every network you want listed for your viewing pleasure. If you’re on the fence, test it using the free 7-day trial and you can make the final call yourself.