How does a Smart DNS Proxy Unblock Geo Restricted Sites
You click on your favourite movie viewing site and are surprised to see a message which says that this video is not available in your area.
The other possibility is that you arrive on their site but cannot find that amazing movie that everyone has been raving about.
Even more frustrating is those people all got it from this content provider. Without you realizing it, they have diverted you to
their designated site for your country which only contains a limited list of movies.
After a bit of internet searching about geo unblocking you come across two possibilities.
VPN and Smart DNS proxy. After some more searching you think you have an understanding of how a VPN works
but due to a lot of misleading sales talk your understanding of the Smart DNS proxy might be a little less clear.
So lets take a quick look at how they work.
The VPN (Virtual Private Network)
You run some VPN application on your device. You give the application the addresses of the VPN servers you are using.
You start a connection to a VPN server. From this moment on all internet traffic from your device is encrypted by the application before being sent to the VPN server.
You connect to the content providers web server. and do what is required to download the movie you want to watch.
On the other end of the VPN tunnel, the server un-encrypts your data. It then finds the packet return address (your ip address) and changes it to the ip address of the VPN server.
This last step is very important because it prevents the content provider from figuring out who you are and where you are.
The content providers web server has been fooled by the VPN server into thinking you are in its local location. It now redirects you to the actual movie file / stream.
Most content providers use external CDN (Content Delivery Network) services or separate file servers to deliver Movies or other content.
The VPN server does all the communicating with the content provider including connecting to the CDN server and getting the movie which it encrypts and sends back to your device.
Your device un-encrypts it and you sit back and watch your movie like those people on the other side of the planet.
To understand how the Smart DNS proxy works we first need to understand how a normal DNS server works.
DNS servers do more than what is illustrated here, but this is close enough for this discussion.
Standard DNS server.
All devices on the internet are addressed using IP addresses but it is easier to remember www.google.com than something like 184.108.40.206.
Ok so lets watch our movie. We enter our content providers URL in our browser and press enter. Our device contacts a local DNS server to ask it for an IP address that is linked to that URL.
If the local DNS already has the IP for this URL it will return it. If the IP is unknown it will make a request to a Root DNS server which will usualy request this information from a TLD DNS server. The TLD server will have knowledge of other DNS servers within the TLD (Top Level Domain. eg .com .uk)and return their address. The DNS server at the final leg of the journey will return an IP address of the server that you want to reach, back to your device. Your device now uses that IP address to connect to the content providers web server.
The content providers web server examines your IP address and at some stage gives you the bad news that you are not welcome. Alternatively it might show you a limited list of movies that it allows for your location.
Smart DNS Proxy
The Smart DNS proxy provider gives us the address of their Smart DNS server which sends us to their DNS proxy . We tell our device to uses this server instead of the usual DNS server.
This can also be done by means of an application running on our device.
Ok so lets watch our movie now.
We enter our content providers URL in our browser and press enter. Our device contacts the Smart DNS server and gives it the content providers URL and waits for the returning IP address.
The Smart DNS detects that this URL is one that is in its list which it can unblock. It sends us the IP address of a Proxy server. Our browser thinks this is the IP of the content provider and makes a standard web connection .
In a similar fashion to the VPN server, the proxy server replaces our packet return IP address with its own IP address. It then forwards the packet to the content provider. The content providers server is fooled by the proxy server into thinking the request is coming from its local area. The content providers web server now redirects us to the server hosting the movie. At this stage the Smart DNS detects that this address is no longer a URL which requires IP changing so it sends us the IP of the file server.
Our browser makes a direct connection with the file server and we happily watch our movie.
The pros and Cons.
For the VPN / Smart DNS provider.
To provide either the VPN or Smart DNS proxy a bunch of IP addresses are required. The more subscribers using the service the more IP addresses are required.
If a provider uses too few IP addresses then the content provider will see perhaps a thousand connections all coming from one address. It will know this is not a normal household connecting and the IP address will be blacklisted.
Encrypting and streaming lots of videos on a VPN server uses a lot of processing power. Many subscribers equal many VPN servers required to handle the load = exspensive for service provider.
Only a limited amount of traffic is sent through a Smart proxy so it will require a smaller number of servers = more cost effective for service provider.
For you the user.
All the encrypting and un encrypting by a VPN service can slow things down especially if the provider is skimping on buying enough servers.
VPN keeps you 100% anonymous from end to end.
VPN prevents your ISP / government from tracking what you are doing.
Smart DNS proxy is quicker but all the data travels in plain site.
Your IP address can be detected by the content providers file server / CDN provider.
For just watching movies the best choice is using smart dns.
If you are in a country where the government censors/monitors what you do on the internet, then a VPN is most likely a better option.