How to use Getflix to bypass geoblocking
We've talked previously about VPNs – largely because they're good for what ails you. They keep you anonymous, add extra security, and – most importantly for many users – they hide your location so you can access geo-blocked services like Hulu, BBC and the US edition of Netflix.
If all you want is the latter, however, a full VPN service might be a bit much. They can be difficult to share across multiple devices, can slow your connection down for things for which you don't need the VPN and can be a little too much money every month on top of your regular ISP bill.
Enter the "smart" DNS service. There are only a handful of such services, the best known being Unblock-Us and Getflix.
Where a VPN routes all your data through the VPN connection, these services use a different technique to bypass the blockades. What they do is provide you with a special DNS (domain name service) number that you can use in lieu of the DNS number your ISP provides.
For the vast majority of sites, it works just like any other DNS service. But for a number of content sites, the DNS server gives the address of a proxy server run by the smart DNS provider, rather than the real site. For instance, if you go to Netflix.com, instead of telling you the real IP address of Netflix.com, the smart DNS will tell you the IP address of a Netflix proxy run by the DNS provider. Since you're accessing Netflix by way of a US-server, you don't get geo-blocked.
The advantage of this model is that it's much easier to configure it for all your devices than a VPN is. A simple change in your router settings is all you really need, as opposed to complicated network connection sharing shenanigans required by VPNs. It will work for your consoles, mobiles, media players and PCs. It's also cheaper than a full VPN, and doesn't slow your data down by routing unnecessary data through a VPN.
There are essentially two parts to setting up a smart DNS service. The first is signing up for the service; the second is configuring your devices.
We'll walk you through the Getflix process; the Unblock-Us process is very similar.
The first thing you need to do is sign-up. Head to Getflix and create an account. It has a 14-day free trial available, and costs $4 per month after that. Once you've set up your account and logged in, you'll be taken to the Getflix dashboard.
It's a good idea to bookmark this page. For Getflix to work, you need your current IP address registered with them. If your IP address changes (which likely happens whenever your router reboots), you need to come back here to register.
It's actually a really good idea to have a DDNS service set up. You can register your DDNS domain with Getflix by clicking on IP Address on the left hand panel and entering your DDNS address in the Dynamic DNS field. This way, you don't have to worry about updating your IP address registration; it will be done for you automatically.
Configuring your router
This is where the genius of the smart DNS service kicks in. If you use automatic network settings (known as DHCP) for devices on your network, they will automatically take the lead from your router when it comes to DNS settings. So to get it to work for all your devices, you just need to change your router's DNS configuration and that will propagate to any device that connects to your network. You can also configure the DNS of devices manually if you like, but for most people a one-and-done router configuration is the way to go.
Unfortunately, as we often find when talking about routers, the different manufacturers are totally inconsistent with respect to where the DNS settings are found. You'll need to log into your router's configuration and find the DNS settings:
- On Linksys routers, they're found on the main Basic Setup page under DHCP Server Setting (it's the Static DNS fields).
- On an iiNet BoB, it's under System->DNS.
- On D-Link, click on Manual Internet Connection Setup and change only the DNS server fields.
- On most Asus routers, click on WAN, head to WAN DNS settings and uncheck the automatic settings.
- On Netgear, click on Basic Settings on the left, then Use these DNS servers.
- On TP-Link, click on DHCP in the left hand panel, then on DHCP Settings.
The goal is to manually enter DNS values for you router. The DNS number you enter depends on your location: if you're in or near Sydney type in 126.96.36.199; Melbourne is 188.8.131.52; Perth 184.108.40.206; Auckland 220.127.116.11. Although there might be several DNS fields, you only need to fill in one. (Note: If you go with Unblock-Us, its DNS servers are 18.104.22.168 primary and 22.214.171.124 secondary).
Now you should be good to use the services that Getflix supports – including Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer and many others. You can access them on all your devices (assuming the devices use automatic Internet configuration) – your consoles, mobiles and media players should just work with the Netflix and other apps. You may need to reboot some devices to get them to update.