Tag: Smart DNS

Broken Smart DNS for US Netflix – Here’s the Fix

There’s a bit of a war starting online, and it looks like it might get a bit nasty.  Only a few days ago, Netflix announced that they would be launching a Australian/New Zealand version of it’s popular media streaming site.   There was one slight issue though for the global media giant, it estimated there were already over 200,000 Netflix US members already streaming from Australia. Now this wasn’t some strange mass exodus of US citizens in search of Aussie beer and TV. It referred to  the fact that loads of Australian’s fed up with the local online offerings and their TV stations were using programs like . to stream US Netflix already.

Unblock and Watch American Netflix in Canada using VPN or Smart DNS proxies

They were also using some configured proxies, although mostly these don’t work any more and the new Smart DNS technology to bypass the blocks. Normally when you sign up for a Netflix account, you actually receive a global enabled one.  This means that what you see is actually based on your location.  So my UK Netflix account turns into a US one when I’m physically in the USA, it’s a German account when in Germany and so on.  Which is fine except for one small problem, the US version of Netflix has literally thousands more films, movies and TV shows than any other version. The UK version of Netflix is ok, but the US version is awesome.

So everyone started to use methods which hide their IP addresses and get access to the US version of Netflix (although Canadian Netflix isn’t too bad either).  One of the most important was Smart DNS, which is the easiest way to get access on devices like Smart Phones, Smart TVs and other such devices.   This is the service I use and it comes highly recommended. But that looks like it was stopping, over the last few weeks Netflix has updated it’s client software on these devices and built in something that stops Smart DNS working (here’s exactly how Smart DNS works).   Now on any of these updated devices, you can only access your legitimate country version of Netflix, which means if you’re not in a Netflix enabled country you can’t watch it at all. Basically they’ve updated their systems so that third party DNS servers can’t be used to resolve the addresses of the Netflix Site.  This means that none of the Smart DNS solutions work any more.

How to Fix Broken Smart DNS for Netflix

Fortunately there is a solution which follows, I have demonstrated on my router a Netgear WNDR 4500 but you should be able to do this on most decent routers. Basically Netflix is forcing everyone to use specific DNS servers, the Open DNS and Google ones, in order to stop the Smart DNS trickery working.  The fix ensures that these DNS servers are not accessible and the client will then go back to the Smart DNS ones – So here’s the fix, first go into your routers configuration screens – mine is accessed by putting it’s internal ip address into a browser . i.e. http://192.168.1.1 which gives me this screen. netgear-smartdnsfix1 You then need to move down to Advanced settings and select Static Routes.  From this screen we need to make sure that the four public DNS servers that Netflix is trying to force us to use are not accessible. fixrbokensmartdns2

Here’s the screen (click to enlarge), and you need to simply add a route for each DNS server to ensure it never gets to it’s destination.
Commonly the information required is –  Destination IP address – the address of the DNS servers as follows:

  • 8.8.8.4  Google DNS
  • 8.8.8.8 Google DNS2
  • 208.67.222.222 Open DNS
  • 209.244.0.3   Open DNS

Subnet Mask  – Put in 255.255.255.255 Gateway IP address – Your Router or a made up internal IP address – mines set to a PC 192.168.1.253 Metric – 2 This should ensure that none of your devices will be able to access any of these DNS servers, thwarting Netflix’s plan and making Smart DNS work yet again – hooray!!  The last check to see if it’s working is to ping any of the devices to see if they can be accessed. pingcheck-dns Here’s an example, you can see the Google DNS server is not reachable.  Now Netflix runs like a dream again and connects to the USA version without a hitch.  This obviously relies on you having a router which allows static routes to be set up, however this is not always possible – the crappy routers most ISPs hand out are usually locked down so you can’t get access to these.   There are other potential solutions which I’ll check out and hopefully post up here if I get chance.

Is Smart DNS Safe? Using Free Smart DNS Codes

A lot of people are starting to use Smart DNS instead of the traditional methods of accessing geo-blocked content.   However people still seem to overlook the huge potential risks in using these free codes and servers that conveniently appear on the internet.

is smart dns safe

But first let us back track and attempt to give a short overview of Smart DNS and what it’s actually used for.  It is basically the next step in the war against web sites who want to control access to their content based on your location.  If configured correctly it has the potential to give anyone access to sites like BBC, HBO, ABC, ITV, Pandora and Netflix irrespective or where you live.  SO you can watch the US version of Netflix from Ottowa, then switch to the UK only version of BBC iPlayer without any problems.

Of course, VPNs and proxies already allow this – however the beauty of the Smart DNS proxy solution is that it works almost seamlessly in the background and can be enabled on virtually any network enabled device.  In the past, people have searched how to get proxy or VPN authentication working on games consoles, iPads, mobile phones or Smart TVs.  This can often be very difficult and sometimes it’s virtually impossible.  With Smart DNS it’s not required, simply change your DNS server and it’s done, it takes minutes and then it’s done – watch this for a demo.

It’s easy to see why it’s becoming more popular, incredibly easy to use and you can simply set and forget.  However it’s important to understand how this actually works and you’ll find the majority of smart dns reviews somewhat lacking in explanations.

How Smart DNS Works

To properly consider the risks of using this technique, it’s obviously useful to have an idea of how it works.   Instead of using your standard DNS server usually assigned by your ISP on connection, you are instead forwarding all DNS requests (the lookups that tell your computer where to find a certain web site) to a specially configured Smart DNS server.  This server will run a DNS forwarder (such as DNSmasq) which will intercept certain domain names, these will be typically the geo-blocked sites like BBC, Hulu  and Netflix.

All other requests will be resolved normally, however any request for the specific geo-blocked sites will be routed to a remote proxy in the correct location.  So for example if you request a video from BBC iPlayer your browser will automatically be redirected to a UK proxy where the connection will be made.  If you then switch to Hulu, your request will be redirected to a US based proxy instead.   Basically you will be rerouted to specific servers using the DNS forwarder – this will all be done in the background.

It’s a very simple and clever technological work around, a well configured and fast Smart DNS server works incredibly well.  You’ll be redirected through a proxy when you need to be to access the site, otherwise the DNS requests will be resolved normally.

So are there any risks to this method?

Unfortunately there are,  simply because you are giving a third party server almost complete control of your web browsing.  There is absolutely nothing to stop this server from rerouting any web request you make – here’s an example.

  • You type in paypal/home banking site  into your web browser as you want to pay some bills.
  • The Smart DNS server reroutes your connection to a different website where a mirror of Paypal/your bank site is stored.
  • You login to the fake version of the website using your username and password.
  • Your account details are stolen and your account accessed.

If it was done well, you would be completely unaware of this happening. You will have given the Smart DNS server complete control of your browsing and the ability to decide which web site it sends you to.

This is the main issue (although there are some others), the fact that anyone can knock together a Smart DNS server and use it to steal usernames and passwords quickly and easily.    All they need to do is release it on the net and post a few ‘found these free dns codes’ type messages on social media sites like Facebook and Youtube, they’ll soon have a flood of potential victims.   It’s an incredibly profitable cybercrime, people can have their various accounts plundered, identity stolen whilst thinking they’re getting a great deal whilst watching the BBC for free!

Remember changing your DNS setting hands over complete control of all your web browsing.

So back to the main question – is smart dns safe ? Well if you’re using free DNS codes found on random posts on internet forums and bulletin boards no almost certainly not.   They have the same inherent risk that using free proxies and vpns have – basically why would people do this for free, well they don’t there will always be an ulterior motive usually involving your personal details.

Of course the commercial Smart DNS services are a completely different matter.  They are on the whole run by legitimate companies who secure their DNS servers and the proxies that they route through.  The problem with these is not whether they are legitimate, but the fact that they are easier to block than VPN services.   For example Netflix have waged war on all methods of bypassing their region locks and 99% of Smart DNS services stopped working in 2016.   The technology is unfortunately much more vulnerable to blocking than the VPN services like Identity Cloaker, and of course doesn’t offer any encryption or security to your connection.

Still there’s no doubt it is easier to set up than a VPN on things like Smart TVs and media streamers so a commercial Smart DNS service is still useful to many people. However you should always check first that it works with the media sites you require, many don’t work with the BBC too.

At the moment you can try out a Smart DNS proxy review for free on probably the most advanced Smart DNS system  (only one that works with Netflix) –
FREE Trial of Unblock US Here

Try it out and see how it works for you.

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

Wow what a geeky title,  well hopefully this post isn’t too dull but it’s inspired by a few emails  – so here’s a kind of introduction/Smart DNS review in response.  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. So as it’s a smart DNS review, here’s the Smart DNS Service I Use – click on the link for a free 14 day trial too!

Smart DNS Proxy

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 region free 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 like this, 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. It’s why you’ll often see people stumped and asking on forums – how to change Roku IP address because it’s certainly not obvious.  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. It should be noted that now Netflix will only allow access from residential IP addresses, so you should check they are available before subscribing with anyone.

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.

Region Free DNS

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 which would prevent you using region free DNS. The earlier Roku’s were, and I’ve heard reports of some Smart TVs and media streamers doing the same.  Basically they force these devices to use something like Google DNS servers by default, therefore overriding any DNS servers you set.    If DNS requests are hard coded into the device, you are either going to have to block them or accept it isn’t going to work properly.  One of the main issues is using Smart DNS Netflix requests as they seem to be forcing manufacturers to enforce their geo-restrictions in their hardware.

I would recommend checking for a specific device’s compatibility by starting with a short-term region Free 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.