UnoDNS is a service that will let people outside the U.S stream services like Hulu and Netflix, and let users inside the U.S get in on things like BBC iPlayer. There are other services which do this, but UnoDNS is the easiest I have tried, although I do have a few worries. In short, it’s cheap, it works, and it can be free.
As I write this, I’m also watching Horizon using the c iPlayer on my iPad. I could also sign up for Netflix, or use any app which streams audio or video but which is usually region locked by checking your IP address. How does it work?
The name gives us a clue. UnoDNS routes you through its own DNS servers, and says that it only routes “relevant” traffic, ie. any connections your device makes to its list of channels. At the other end of the connection, it looks like you are connecting from the local country. Thus, when you head to NetFlix.com, NetFlix thinks that you are in the U.S.
To use it, you just sign up (there’s a free week-long trial which requires no credit card, just a name, e-mail address and password) and you are given new DNS numbers to tap into your router, computer or mobile device (it’s easy, and there are instructions on the site). And that’s it. You can now use any of the listed services.
I tried it with the BBC’s iPlayer, which is region-locked to UK IP addresses, and it works just great. After one initial stutter, the video came through in great quality and with no skipping. You get full access as if you were in the UK, and the app and service are free.
If you want to use NetFlix, though, you’re going to have to sign up for a paid account, which will require a U.S credit card.
And this brings me on to my worries. For the casual user, there’s no way to tell just which parts of your internet traffic are being re-routed. UnoDNS says that it’s just the relevant traffic, but how do you know? While I have no reason to think UnoDNS is anything but legit, I’m still cautious of browsing to banking sites, or accessing my email, or anything else, through its DNS servers. After all, DNS spoofing can redirect you anywhere, even when you type in a URL by hand.
The problem is worse when you realize that sites like NetFlix will only let you sign up if you are in the U.S, so you’ll have to input your credit card details through UnoDNS, too. That said, if you want anything other than crappy shows, you’ll need to give the company your credit card details anyway, to pay for the Premium or Gold plans.
The other thing you should do is remove these DNS numbers when not using the service. This is easy: just go to the network settings and delete the numbers you added earlier. These should then revert automatically to the default settings.
I have set up a text shortcut (on iPad Settings>General>Keyboard>Shortcuts) to quickly fill in the UnoDNS numbers when I need them.
The service is free to try for seven days. The Premium plan is $5 per month, and the Gold plan costs $8. Not bad..