Monthly Archives: November 2016

Travelling Tools – Smart DNS and VPNs

For artists, travel is part of the lifestyle in fact for many it’s the inspiration itself.  Commuting to work every day to the same place is hardly likely to inspire the mews which is why many forgo things like security and money in order to travel. The internet has of course made this much easier to both plan and execute.  Certainly in a practical way, it’s much simpler to just take off if you know that you can pay your bill, speak to your friends and organize your life online.

Even when travelling it’s great to know that you can just pop the news on or watch something familiar if you’re feeling in homesick.  It’s something that does happen to me particularly when travelling on a budget as luxury isn’t always available.   For years laptops have made the perfect companion and now notebooks and tablets have made it even easier to carry around the internet with you.

Useful Links

However as many ex-pats are already aware, when travelling there are some unexpected problems with operating your life online.  For example did you know that you may not be able to access your online banking from another country?  It’s often a shock to people that banks block access when you’re physically located outside your native country.  It’s for understandable fraud reasons, but that’s little help when you’ve realized your electricity is about to be cut off as you forgot to mail the bill.  Not as important but you probably won’t be able to watch your local news station or entertainment channels through their website either.

Frequent travelers have tools to circumvent these issues.  The VPN was made popular years ago when the BBC stopped allowing access to non-UK IP addresses to their wonderful iPlayer application.  The idea was simple the VPN hid your real location and enabled you to appear to be in the country of the VPN server.  That means a UK server would allow access to all British resources, a US one to all US resources and so on.  It works till this day, and what is more the VPN provides important security to your internet connection too.

Next came a system called Smart DNS which operates a little more selectively by routing only specific requests to an intermediate server, using DNS.  This provides no security but does potentially cost less as it used much less bandwidth – read about it here – US DNS Netflix.

If you’re travelling a lot and want to check out secure sites like your email or online banking and stuff from internet cafes and dodgy Wifi access points in hotels then using a VPN is a much better choice.  However Smart DNS is a good option for those who actually live abroad and can use a secure private internet connection, who just need to hide their location.