DNS versus VPN to stream TV and Movies in the UAE

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Wifi and the home or office network that sits behind it has fast become an Utility that we cannot do without. Read below about the latest developments in Wifi in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

How do you watch UK, European, Australian and US content from abroad? The choice generally falls to VPN or DNS. But what are they?

A VPN is a direct connection between 2 computers through an encrypted tunnel. A VPN would allow you to get around geo-location restrictions as you appear to the streaming service as if you are popping up at that location. Sounds good? Unfortunately, the internet pipe that you’ll be using is generally restricted, you don’t know who else is using that IP address and it is easy for the streaming services to spot the traffic from a small range of IP addresses.

While there are plenty of legitimate reasons to use a VPN (eg remote connection into offices or personal servers), we recommend they are used for limited purposes and only on the device that you need them on. Setting a VPN up across a whole network can lead to much reduced performance for other online activities that do not require their use.

(Reminder: using a VPN for illegal purposes in the UAE is illegal)

A DNS service, on the other hand, works differently to get a similar result but just for streaming traffic (Netflix / BBC iPlayer etc). The internet runs on numbers called IP addresses not the letters that make up domain names you input into a browser. The global internet DNS is the phone book of the internet that translates domain names (google.com / bbc.co.uk etc) into IP addresses. A DNS service modifies some of the entries to enable direct access to the servers in the home country. So you go direct using your entire internet connection. As you would expect, it’s not perfect, but it works.

Unlike VPN, DNS can be used easily and care-free across an entire network or on a limited separate network. The DNS service only updates the IP addresses of some of the streaming services and nothing else. The rest is just a working (and updated) copy of the freely available phonebook of the internet.

Here’s a link to SmartDNSProxy, check out their service. If you need some help with the setup then contact Aquila Wifi.