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VPN vs DNS: Which one should you choose and why?

So you want to find out whether to choose a VPN or a DNS for your home server? In this article, we will compare VPN vs DNS, or as some would say, VPN vs Smart DNS services. By the end of this article, you should know the differences between them, as well as the advantages of using one or the other. This will allow you to make an informed decision. Choose the best VPN and DNS available for your home server, with this small but helpful guide.

VPN vs DNS image
VPN? DNS? What does it all mean? Learn more about them with this guide.

VPN vs DNS: What are they?

First you need to understand the basic concepts. What is a VPN? What is a DNS? How can they help me protect my browsing, and let me access geolocked content (eg. Netflix and US TV channels outside available countries)? We wrote a small guide some time ago, where we talked about the uses of VPN with Kodi. In that article, you can find a general idea of what a VPN service is.

VPN vs Smart DNS IPVanish
VPN software changes the location that websites detect from you.

Basically, if you use a VPN service, you make remote websites ‘think’ you are browsing from some other location. What really happens is that you connect through a server which re-routes your connection. This may have the added advantage of encrypting your communication, protecting your privacy and enabling you to access geolocked content. Encryption can protect you while browsing or streaming content (eg. through Kodi addons). [Read: Guide: How to install OpenVPN on Windows HTPC]

Protect your browsing, downloading, and streaming activities - VPN vs SmartDNS | Kodi VPN Use | Plex VPN Use
Provider Purpose Setup Guides Cost
IPVanish VPN Privacy and Protection Linux Mint, Ubuntu, OSMC, Windows, Android, OSMC Offer: 15% off 2 renewals
1 month: $8.50
12 months: $5.52/mo
StrongVPN
editors pick
Privacy, Protection, and Geo-Unblocking Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android Offer: Includes StrongDNS
1 month: $10.00
12 months: $5.83/mo
OverPlay VPN Privacy, Protection, and Geo-Unblocking Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Gaming Systems, Smart TVs, Android, iOS, TV Boxes, Routers Valentine's Day Offer:
SmartDNS + VPN $4.16/mo
1 month: $9.95
12 months: $8.33/mo
StrongDNS Geo-Unblocking Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Gaming Systems, Smart TVs, Android, iOS, TV Boxes, Routers 1 month: $5.00
12 months: $4.16/mo

Can I protect my browsing with a DNS?

If you are comparing VPN vs Smart DNS services, you need to know that a DNS or Smart DNS service does not protect your privacy or online activity. All it does is enable access to geolocked content. Of course, when trying to choose the best VPN and DNS alternatives, it is important to compare them and choose something that fits your needs. Alternatively, you can both SmartDNS and VPN for nearly the same cost as VPN only .

VPN vs Smart DNS: Which one should I get?

At this point it would seem that you should get a VPN, since it does more things. It keeps you safe and unlocks content for you. Smart DNS only let you unlock geolocked content, and do nothing in favor of your privacy. However, Smart DNS services have advantages over VPN, that might make you consider one or the other.

best VPN and DNS bundle
Some VPN services, like StrongVPN, offer a DNS service as well, so they are a good option if you can not decide what to get.

Since Smart DNS services do not encrypt your communications, they are faster, so they are recommended if all you want to do is access content that would otherwise be geolocked for you. A standalone Smart DNS service is typically cheaper than VPN. However, if you want to keep your online activities private, a Smart DNS is not recommended, as it does not offer the safety and security you can get with a VPN. Almost all VPN providers do not maintain logs of your access, giving you even more privacy.

What’s the best VPN and DNS service?

Quality has a cost, so stay away from VPN or DNS services that claim to offer these features for free: the risks associated far outweigh the possible benefits. However, this does not mean that the best service will have to be expensive. By using software such as IPVanish or StrongVPN, you will get the support of companies that are dedicated to provide the best experience to their customers. If you can’t decide what to get, you can rely on services such as StrongVPN, which offer VPN and DNS capabilities for nearly the price of just VPN (Strong VPN & DNS – $5.83 per month). So all your online security and content geo-unblocking needs will be met.

best VPN and DNS software
The interfaces of software such as StrongVPN make it easier for users to understand and use VPN for all their browsing needs.

Deciding when comparing VPN vs DNS may be difficult, but in the end it will depend on what are your needs and what do you want to do. Interested on getting content on your HTPC? Use one of these 10 best Kodi movies addons or these 10 best Android streaming apps, and remember to use properly a VPN or a DNS if you need one!

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About the author

Alejandro

Alejandro is an electrical engineer, working as a software developer and part-time writer. He has a passion for technology, languages and games, and has been around the web since 2004.

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