Smart DNS – Changing a Device’s IP Address to Region Free

Wow what a geeky title,  well hopefully this post isn’t too dull but it’s inspired by a few emails about Smart DNS I’ve been having.  Now a lot of us, are living a pretty region free life online, with the use of certain programs and services we are not blocked and redirected based on our location.  So I don’t have to watch the vastly inferior version of Netflix just because I’m currently in the United Kingdom, I can watch the US Version instead or when travelling I can watch the BBC iPlayer abroad!  It’s all pretty straight forward on a computer, laptop or smartphone – load up the program, switch servers or  use a DNS service and you can choose your own virtual location with a false IP address. Here’s the basic steps for a PC – Can’t see the video above? You can find it on YouTube it’s all about Smart DNS But of course the world is not that simple, and many of us have different devices that are getting blocked.  Media streamers, Smart TVs and games consoles; just like our computers.

These just like our computers can get blocked based on their location too, and there’s no obvious way to manually configure network settings, especially if you don’t have the right IT infrastructure.  Installing a sophisticated security program written for a PC or MAC isn’t going to work but how about these innovative DNS services that a couple of the leading VPN/Proxy providers have developed.  These services work across all sorts of platforms – phones, games consoles, Smart TVs, tablets and computers – in fact virtually anything which has access to the internet. Here’s the Smart DNS Service I Use –

Overplay Smart DNS

In case you don’t know Smart-DNS is a sort of halfway house to unblocking geo-restricted media content online.  It basically routes part of your connection through a specific server using your domain name system (DNS) settings.  So if you were interested in watching US Netflix from Europe for example, you would establish initial connections through a United States proxy server and then stream directly through your own connection  All you need to do is enable your IP address with one of these DNS services and then change your DNS settings on the device you need.

So I Can Change the Location of a Device like a Roku, Boxee or a Smart TV?

Yes you can but this isn’t always obvious, because many devices don’t let you alter or change network settings like DNS servers.

How Can I Change Roku Network Settings

How Can I Change Roku Network Settings

So let’s take for example this device, the amazing Roku (which really is that big!)  The Roku allows you to stream content directly to a TV through an HDMI cable.  Most people use it to access Hulu, YouTube, HBO GO and similar channels, but it’s a network-enabled device meaning it is affected by the location of your IP address.Connecting a Roku to a TV in the USA alone won’t enable users to use BBC iPlayer and similar geographically-restricted channels.

Smart DNS is ideal for this sort of situation: it’s not a full-blown virtual private network (VPN) connection, but should be just enough to fool the media-streaming site into the location you specify. Except the Roku (like most streaming devices) has no network configuration settings; you cannot manually modify its IP address nor its DNS server. Perhaps these are blocked for a reason. I imagine major streaming companies like Netflix wouldn’t want users to be able to access these settings – but they haven’t directly prevented these connections either. Luckily you can modify the settings in most cases, either on your router directly or by using DHCP. DHCP is the protocol that sits on your routers, Wi-Fi access points and modems that assigns IP addresses for all the devices on your network.

netgearWNDR4500

Here’s the settings on my Netgear router which allows the device to allocate IP addresses on my internal network – you allocate a range – 192.168.1.1-192.168.1.254 in this case and each device will be assigned it’s own address when connected to this network. On a full proper DHCP service, not on this particular router example, you can specify other details including which DNS server to use. You could also set up your own DHCP server on a computer for allocation there are loads of free versions you can use. For Smart DNS to work you only need to assign the specific Smart DNS server to the device you want to work. So I could assign a specific DNS server to my Roku remotely, which could either be a US, UK or any country employable by the service you use. In my situation with this router, I would just assign the Smart DNS setting to the router itself in the DNS settings. All this does is enable everything in my network to use  the Smart DNS setting which in many cases is more suitable for people.

DNS Settings on Router

These are normally in Internet or LAN settings on your router. Instead of using the assigned settings from your ISP, specify the Smart DNS ones you received from your provider – in my case, Overplay. If you’re lucky the DHCP service on your router will allow you to specify the DNS settings like this TPlink one. assign-dnsto-roku Once you’ve assigned your new Smart DNS settings to your router, every device connect to your Wi-Fi network would also be assigned to the Smart DNS settings – that’s your Roku, iPhone, Smart TV…whatever. If you want a particular device to have different DNS settings, simply assign them locally on the device – they will not be overwritten by DHCP. I should however urge a word of caution particularly due to my tests: the above works fine for most devices when assigning DNS settings to devices on your network. But there is a possibility that your device may be regionally locked in some fashion. The earlier Roku’s were, and I’ve heard reports of some Smart TVs and media streamers doing the same. I would recommend checking for a specific device’s compatibility by starting with a short-term DNS subscription first. . has a 1-month plan starting at less than $5 USD, perfect for testing the service to make sure it supports whichever device you want to use.

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40 Responses

  1. monty says:

    So I just get an account and then change my DNS settings to the Smart DNS ones? That’s all? I want to watch Wimbledon on the BBC when it starts from Spain.

    • says:

      Yep that’s it. Should work on any internet able device where you can change your DNS settings. Or like this example change on your router but then it affects every device connected to it.

  2. tilly says:

    So does Smart DNS work better than a VPN, I want to use it to switch regions for Netflix mainly.

    • says:

      Hi Tilly,
      To be honest I’ve found Smart DNS to be a bit unreliable with Netflix although it works great for everything else. It does seem to work better on a PC than anything else too. I’ve used Smart DNS on a WiiU, Xbox and a Roku to watch Netflix and quite often have problems – usually Netflix won’t connect. It’s best to just try it for a month and see how it works for you on the platform you’re using. But I have to say a VPN works better for Netflix in my experience.

  3. Monroe says:

    Thanks for this, was really helpful with Smart DNS. If I set this up on my router, it will affect all my devices – is there someway of making one device use it’s own DNS settings?

    • says:

      Yep if you specify an alternative DNS server on the other device it will use this. So for example you can get all your devices to use the router to forward DNS requests (or assign with DHCP), so they will all use the Smart DNS server, On the exception just specify an alternative DNS server – it will use this, even if you use DHCP it won’t override a DNS server already set. Hope that makes sense, post if you need more help 🙂

  4. Allison says:

    Hi,

    Could I use this on my home PC and my tablet?

    • says:

      Yep sure, all you need to do is change the DNS settings on each device. Should work with pretty much anything, although I have had some problems with Netflix recently as they keep blocking IP addresses.

  5. Jim says:

    Great article! So I’m in the US and I want to use smart dns and watch bbc iplayer with my iPad mirrored on my Apple TV I just use the setting they give for my iPad. if I want to watch US Netflix I just use the us settings for my Apple TV. Is that right?

    What if I want to watch uk Netflix through the Apple TV Netflix app do I have to change the settings every time I want to switch from uk to us Netflix?

    Thanks for the article and all your replies. I have looking for a convenient solution to switch between the two netflixs easily.

    • Jim says:

      By settings I mean changing setting on my router or my overplay account to switch back and forth between us and uk Netflix

    • says:

      Hi Jim,

      Sorry for the late reply, comment lost in lots of spam. If you use Overplay’s Smart DNS you actually control which version from your account page on their site. There is a locale option where you switch which version of Netflix you are directed to – you shouldn’t need to change your DNS settings each time.

  6. Shay says:

    Hello ,
    so I’m in Spain atm – so
    1) subscribe to Overplay
    2) authorise my IP address
    3) change my dns servers to their ‘smart ones’
    4) I can watch Hulu, BBC, ITV, US Netflix and HBO here?
    Is that correct ??????

    • says:

      Yep, and you can even switch the versions of Netflix you watch. I love horror movies and there’s some good ones on Canadian Netflix that are not anywhere else, not sure why. It does cost something true , but I personally couldn’t live without it !

  7. angleina says:

    I use a shared internet connection between a few apartments. I know that my IP address changes periodically, would this be a problem using Smart DNS?

    • says:

      It’s not really a problem more of being inconvenient. Basically you would have to re-authorise your IP address every time it changed. This basically involves going to a web page when logged onto your account. It only takes a couple of seconds, but there’s no way around it currently.

  8. Uda says:

    Hi,
    Ok so just sign up and change the DNS service and I won’t get blocked anywhere?

    • says:

      Hi Uda,
      Kind of, as long as the service is supported. All the big media services will work and social sites like Facebook and Twitter. But each site needs to be added individually for Smart DNS to work so if you need something slightly obscure then you’re best to email them first. They’re usually pretty good at adding new sites but if it’s your main reason for subscribing I’d check first.

  9. Syreeta says:

    Gosh this works well, just subscribed and changed the DNS settings on my laptop and can now watch US Netflix – thanks !!!

  10. Yasmin says:

    Hi,

    Ok think I’ve found it 🙂 On my router there’s a section about DNS servers and the options are ‘get automatically from ISP’ or ‘use these DNS servers’. So if I subscribe to Overplay and put there DNS servers in the second option – then I can watch the BBC from Spain and use American Netflix – is this correct? Please, please, please answer my question !! Thanks….

    • theninja says:

      You have indeed found it :), that’s the section to change on a router. This will affect all the devices connected to your router (unless you specify otherwise). So it will affect any device on your network.

  11. Too Big Bob says:

    Ok I read somewhere smart dns wasn’t working too well. Has that changed, it sounds easy (which suits me) – does it work now?
    I’d appreciate some advice, please 🙂

    thanks
    toobigbob

    • says:

      Bob,
      You’re right, Smart DNS had some problems with quite a few applications for a while. Although it still worked for most channels, a few stopped working like Netflix. At the moment everything seems to work fine with now, I’d take it month by month though. Stick with services that you can cancel if they stop working.

  12. Linnie says:

    We’ve just got Netflix in Australia, would this allow me to switch to the US version when I needed? They seem to have more movies than the Oz version.

    • says:

      Hi,
      Yep you can actually now switch to any of the Netflix versions just by changing the location on your Overplay account. It’s worth checking out the different locales – for example Canadian and UK Netflix have lots of stuff that’s not on the US Netflix either.

  13. Fernando says:

    I was not able to use your free trial Smart Dns on my iphone. I use chromecast to cast American Channels including Netflix USA. and did not work

  14. clarissa says:

    I’m confused about all this stuff. I don’t mind paying a small amount to get a decent service, but do I go Smart DNS or VPN? Please help – what would you do???

    Clarissa

    • theninja says:

      Hi Clarissa,
      It’s confusing I know, but both work very well if you use a decent service. It really does depend on what you need to watch it on. Identity Cloaker is definitely the best on PCs, laptops, ipads, phones and tablets. However if you want to use different devices like a Roku or media streamer then Smart DNS through Overplay(http://overplay.net/?a_aid=dot21) is probably easier.
      Let me know what you use most and I’ll try and help.,..

      • theninja says:

        I should add that I’ve nagged Identity Cloaker into setting up a Smart DNS service and they have. It works great but they won’t advertise it yet as they are still testing, but if you subscribe just ask them and they’ll give you the codes,

  15. Jana says:

    I’ve hear that none of the DNS codes are working any more for Netflix. DO you know if this is true? I can’t get anything to work any more.

  16. Graig says:

    Sorry so can I clarify, if I assign the DNS settings on my router, then this will work for every device on my network? I have two PCs, an Xbox, laptop and my phone. No software installed anywhere at all to enable BBC from the US????

    oops thanks 🙂

    • theninja says:

      If all your devices get their IP address information from that router then it will work instantly for everything. If you manually specify a different DNS server on any device it won’t work for that one. Although this can be useful if you say want to watch your home country version of Netflix on one device and the US one on another.

      Hopefully that makes sense 🙂

  17. Mary Ellen says:

    Hi,

    Can I assign this to my phone and iPad to watch Netflix on that?
    Will it work when I’m away from my wifi connection?

    Thanks Mary

    • theninja says:

      Hi Mary,

      Of course, just change the DNS settings on your phone/tablet for your Wifi connection. Unfortunately it won’t work when you’re away from your Wifi as you’ll then have a different IP address and assigned DNS server (which won’t be a Smart DNS one).

      If you were away for a while say using a hotel Wifi or work, you could change the DNS settings for that (and register the IP you were using). It wouldn’t be worth the hassle for a short time though.

      Hope that helps.

  18. Jerrod says:

    Can I just assign the Smart DNS directly onto my Xbox?

    • theninja says:

      Yep Jerrod, basically assign it individually to any network device – I’ve tried on Xbox, Wii, WiiU, Samsung Smart TV, Ipad, Iphone, Roku,laptop and PC. Only one that it didn’t work seamlessly was Netflix on the Roku but sorted that out now with a firmware upgrade.

      Or if you assign it on your router you can change all devices at once – up to you 🙂

  19. Shaun says:

    So instead of routing through a proxy, it’s just fooling via DNS requests?

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