Review: UnoDNS frees you to stream from other countries

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder UnoDNS

    PCWorld Rating

I am writing these lines while listening to Pandora. If you're in the US, this probably doesn't sound very exciting. I, however, am not in the US–I'm in Israel, a country in which Pandora is not officially supported. I can also do all sorts of other US-only tricks, such as watch Hulu, enjoy Netflix video streaming, and jam to Rdio and Spotify. All of the computers on my home network can enjoy the same content, and I didn't have to install any software or flash my ADSL router with custom firmware for this to work. This is all thanks to innovative $5/month (eight-day free trial) service UnoDNS–and before you ask, no, it is not a VPN.

You see, circumventing geo-restriction is nothing new. For as long as content has been geographically restricted, there have been individuals determined to get at that content, even if they are in the "wrong" country. The usual solution is to use a VPN, which is a sort of a virtual tunnel your Internet connection goes through. You send all of your Internet traffic via a VPN server, and it goes out the other end from a server in the US, UK, or another country of your choice. The service you're talking to thinks you're in that country, and you get to enjoy the content.

That sounds like a nice solution, but in reality, it's cumbersome. For starters, most services and websites are not geo-restricted. If I just want to enjoy one or two specific sites, why should all of my Internet traffic go through a third party? Not only is this inefficient, but it can also slow things down. If I have a fast ADSL connection (100Mbps, for example), my VPN provider can easily become a bottleneck. Everything has to go via that one server, which has a hard time keeping up.

UnoDNS stops working whenever your ISP changes your IP address, but updating it for your new address takes just one click, and can be automated.

UnoDNS gets around this by doing something amazing–and that is not a word I use lightly. Instead of forcing all of your traffic through a VPN server, UnoDNS has you configure custom DNS servers on your computer. This is a simple operation that doesn't require installing any software. In fact, many routers let you configure your own DNS servers on the router itself, which is how I enabled UnoDNS for my entire home network in one fell swoop (Android and iOS devices included, as long as they're on WiFi). This saves you time spent individually configuring each device.

Without getting too technical, whenever your computer tries to access another host on the Internet, it goes through a DNS server. When you use UnoDNS as your DNS server, this means UnoDNS knows every time your computer tries to access Pandora, Rdio, or any of the numerous other supported services. UnoDNS then intercepts just those specific packets trying to access the georestricted service, and sends them from an allowed country. All of your other traffic goes through unfiltered, just as it normally would.

UnoDNS is surgically selective: It doesn't route all of your Pandora or Hulu traffic through their special servers. Instead, UnoDNS knows exactly what parts of the communication must be routed through American servers, and routes only those specific parts (just a fraction of the overall traffic between you and the service, usually). Everything else goes through your regular connection, at full speed.

UnoDNS has guides showing how to use the service on a wide range of devices.

If you've ever wanted to get around geographic restrictions and had to resort to a VPN with its bandwidth caps and slow speeds, you will appreciate just how simple and focused UnoDNS is. It's the most elegant solution I've seen to this problem yet, and has been working perfectly for the few weeks I've tried it out so far. Highly recommended.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can use this Web-based software.

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At a Glance
  • PCWorld Rating

    If you're outside the US and want to enjoy all of the video and music services available stateside, UnoDNS is indispensable and gets the job done beautifully.


    • Requires no software
    • Can be used across an entire LAN
    • Doesn't have any bandwidth caps


    • Requires simple manual configuration to use
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