What is Geo-restriction?
Try surfing to Pandora Internet Radio and you will be informed that it is not available to listeners located outside of the US. This is known as ‘geo-restriction’ or ‘geo-blocking’ where certain websites or contents are ‘locked out’ depending on where you are geographically located.
How do people get around Geo-restrictions?
The most common way to get around such restriction is to use a VPN service which tricks the website into thinking that you are located somewhere that they can serve their contents to. Unfortunately, VPN can be slow at times as (usually) all traffic from your computer are routed through it unless you tinker with all those messy route tables (routing packets to a certain IP network via different gateways).
But let me tell you – Bypassing geo-restrictions can be easier with UnoDNS from UnoTelly.
How does UnoTelly’s UnoDNS help?
Firstly, you will need to change your primary and secondary Domain Name Server (DNS) to UnoDNS’s DNS servers. DNS helps to resolve hostnames (e.g. www.pandora.com) into IP addresses (e.g. 188.8.131.52) before your computer establishes a connection to it.
- When you launch a web browser and surf to “http://www.pandora.com”.
- Your computer sends a hostname resolution request (“resolve www.pandora.com”) to your ISP’s DNS.
- Your ISP’s DNS will respond to that request (“www.pandora.com equals 184.108.40.206”).
- Your computer connects to “220.127.116.11” for the content.
- The website (“http://www.pandora.com”), in this example, sees that your computer is not in a location that it can serve content(s) to and restricts the content(s).
- You see the notice highlighting that the contents are geo-restricted.
What UnoDNS does is to resolve these geo-restricted websites’ hostname to an IP address of their own servers that are local to that website.
- As usual, you launch a web browser and surfs to “http://www.pandora.com”.
- Your computer sends a hostname resolution request (“resolve www.pandora.com”) to UnoDNS’s DNS.
- UnoDNS’s DNS will respond to that request (“www.pandora.com equals 18.104.22.168”).
Notice the replied IP address is different from the previous example.
- Your computer connects to “22.214.171.124” for the content.
“126.96.36.199” is in fact UnoTelly’s proxy server.
- UnoTelly’s proxy server relays the content request to “188.8.131.52” for the content.
“184.108.40.206” is the actual Pandora’s server.
- “220.127.116.11” sees that UnoTelly’s proxy servers are in a location that it can serve content to and responds with the content.
- UnoTelly’s proxy server receives the content and passes it on to your computer.
- You get the content.
For non-geo-restricted sites, UnoDNS resolves them to the actual IP addresses so your computer connects directly to it (and not via UnoTelly’s proxy servers). Therefore, UnoDNS is generally a lot faster than traditional VPN service.
What if I need to view Netflix (US) and Netflix (UK)?
With UnoDNS Dynamo, you can switch between regions (e.g. US, UK, NL) easily through the Dynamo Settings on the web or through the mobile application. What it essentially does is to resolve the hostname “www.netflix.com” to different IP addresses (of different UnoTelly’s servers). This is a neat feature. Definitely handy.
What if I don’t want to use UnoDNS for all hostname resolution?
For those (geekier ones) who are concerned with UnoDNS handling all hostname resolutions (which may lead to MITM attacks), you can actually set up conditional DNS forwarding on your router.
On my router’s Dnsmasq, I added the following:
What it does is to forward DNS resolution request for the specified domains (“*.unotelly.com”, “*.netflix.com”, “*.pandora.com”) to UnoDNS’s servers. All other resolutions still goes through my ISP’s DNS.
So, is UnoDNS good?
Yes, I am quite impressed with UnoDNS as it is easy to setup and I hardly notice any difference in speed or user experience.
Ok. How do I signup for UnoDNS?
Before you sign up, you might want to give UnoDNS 8-days trial a go.
But anyway, their Premium plan and Gold plan goes for US$4.95 and US$7.95 monthly respectively. The latter gives you access to UnoVPN servers based in US, UK, Canada and Netherlands. Why the need for UnoVPN? Well, you can fall back to VPN if there happen to be any geo-restricted websites that are not yet supported by UnoDNS.
Lastly, check out the list of supported channels/ websites. You might find something interesting there. For me, I use UnoDNS for Pandora, Spotify, Hulu, Netflix and BBC iPlayer.