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Any way to configure VPN and Smart DNS simultaneously?

Discussion in 'VPN' started by Big Ry, Feb 26, 2020.

  1. Big Ry

    Big Ry New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2020
    Messages:
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    I'm running an asus ac68u with Merlin firmware, and i currently have it configured with 2 expressVPN servers using OpenVPN as well as OpenVPN tunnel for remote access. The VPN servers are policy based, so the router itself isn't on VPN. I need the following VPN configurations for various streaming services.

    US-based (currently NJ):
    - required for Sling TV
    - required for Netflix
    - Hulu, Disney+, Prime Video (unsure of requirements, as i don't use... Wife hasn't complained that any aren't working though)

    Non-North American (currently UK)
    - required for NFL Game Pass streaming devices
    - required on Chromecast to stream NFL GP

    The individual devices we watch these on vary, but they're predominantly watched on 3 firesticks, 2 Samsung tablets, my Pixel 2XL, and my wife's Pixel 2. I do however need to use Chromecasts for streaming NFL Game Pass, so they've basically been relegated to that duty almost exclusively since most other streaming services do not work on the Chromecasts running on UK VPN server.

    Aside from the annoying issues I've already described, I also have intermittent issues with using the VPN with Netflix or Sling. I managed to find a US server that Netflix is ok with (for now), but Sling never liked any VPNs. Somehow I've gotten sling to work by some combination of force-closing the app, clearing cache, rebooting firesticks...i honestly have no idea what exactly gets it working but it eventually does somehow. That said, it recent stopped working again without me changing anything. I'm tired of this BS game with all these services. I need a permanent and reliable solution.

    In my attempts to get Game Pass working, i signed up for Smart DNS service. This does work to unblock GP, but since there's no privacy my ISP just throttles the connection like a mofo. So I've been relying solely on VPN because Comcast throttling is so bad.

    I know VPN and Smart DNS cannot be used simultaneously on the same device. But is there any possible way to configure my router and/or individual devices or apps to run on both? Like can one be configured upstream of the other? I have a second ac68u that I'm not using that i could throw in if it could help my problem.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
  2. royarcher

    royarcher Senior Member

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    Location:
    Preston west Melbourne Victoria Australia
    Why don't you configure the spare router with a smart DNS, express VPNs DNS servers work fine for me, and just connect whatever device that you stream from to that router . You would need to set it up so that it passes through the VPN router . Express VPNs DNS addresses' are 85.203.37.1 and 85.203.37.2 that will give you U.S.A. streaming access PS welcome to the forum
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2020
  3. Big Ry

    Big Ry New Around Here

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    Thanks. I don't know why i have so much trouble with ExpressVPN. Are their DNS configured by default when setting up the VPN (i can't remember if i typed them in or not)?

    When you say to use the spare router for smart DNS, you mean have it upstream of the router with VPN? It can still talk to the DNS proxy while going through the VPN router? Will it impact VPN tunnel for remote access at all?

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
  4. royarcher

    royarcher Senior Member

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    Location:
    Preston west Melbourne Victoria Australia
    Like you said you can't use a VPN and a DNS proxy server at the same time on the same router so the VPN router would be number one connected directly into your modem then the other would connect to it. You need to have all the pass-throughs on on the main router. On the second one where it says to automatically connect to DNS pick no and two boxes will open up enter the DNS addresses into the boxes hit save and your set . I don't see how it would interfere with remote access to your VPN router
     
  5. Big Ry

    Big Ry New Around Here

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    I can just run everything through router 2, so everything is on Smart DNS? Then i can pick and choose which devices will get VPN on my primary router?

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
  6. royarcher

    royarcher Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Well you would only connect your streaming devices to the DNS router and anything that you need a VPN for connect to your main VPN router
     
  7. Big Ry

    Big Ry New Around Here

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    Why is that? Why can't all go through DNS router > VPN router? Or the same but with no VPN configured for select devices

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk
     
  8. royarcher

    royarcher Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Just make sure that you have the pass-throughs enabled go to wan/ Nat pass-through then enable all if they are not already enabled
     
  9. royarcher

    royarcher Senior Member

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    Location:
    Preston west Melbourne Victoria Australia
    Well they can I just thought that you wanted to have both VPN and DNS proxy servers at the same time
     
  10. royarcher

    royarcher Senior Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    I
    If you do use express VPNs DNS servers you will need to set up a ddns on express VPNs website it goes into detail on how to do that. They call it media streamer if you click on it the media streamer ip addresses will pop up and under them you will see the full instructions on how to set it up. Using a ddns just keeps registering your ip addresses with express VPN whenever your ip changes so you don't have to manually do it that way you will have a smooth stream
     
  11. Big Ry

    Big Ry New Around Here

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2020
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    There may be some confusion here. I probably should have mentioned in the beginning that I'm very much a novice to networking stuff (if that's not obvious already).

    I want to figure out how to use smart dns and express VPN at the same time for a given device. I thought you were saying i could do this by putting the smart dns on my second router as a pass through. Then presumably anything that i want using smart dns must be connected to that second router, right? I see no reason not to just have everything running through smart dns (is there a downside I'm missing here?)

    I'm also assuming the second router will have wireless functioning, but tell me if that's not the case because that changes everything if so.

    Next, I'm assuming any device connected to second "smart DNS pass-through" router can then be managed in the primary router. As such, i can put certain devices on the ExpressVPN UK server, others on the ExpressVPN NJ server, and the rest on no VPN at all. I'm also assuming i still get all the network traffic monitoring, QoS, and other functionality in the primary router. If this isn't the case, please let me know. Like if the second router with smart DNS is just passing all traffic together through to the primary router, such that the primary router only sees the secondary router and nothing connected to the secondary router, that also changes everything.

    I just checked my expressVPN account, and no DNS is configured but i do have ddns setup with freeddns. Does ddns just replace a regular DNS configuration?

    Looking at my primary routers settings, i don't see anything in the VPN section related to DNS other than 1 option to 'Accept DNS Configuration', which i currently have set to 'Exclusive' per setup instructions for the VPN. Under LAN>DHCP server I have what appears to be Google DNS configured (8.8.8.8 & 8.8.4.4).

    Given all this, can I still do what i want to do with smart DNS on the second router? I don't have to have all devices running through smart dns, only a few actually NEED it. So if it's somehow a problem to run all traffic through the proxy, i can just connect the non-problematic devices straight to the primary router.

    Sent from my Pixel 2 XL using Tapatalk