While watching your favorite tv show, you might encounter a message saying, “This content is not available in your country.” That, my friend, is called geo-blocking. It is a way for streaming services, movie distributors, and broadcasters to regulate or restrict access to their content.
The restriction depends entirely on your IP address. This shows your location and can be tracked easily. Moreover, based on your location, you can only have access to content available in the region you are currently situated in.
Virtual Private Network (VPN) and Getting Around Geo-Blocking
Recently, most major streaming services, as well as gaming, sports, and gambling sites are geo-blocked. This means only users in certain countries can access them. Furthermore, some countries (such as China) regulate access to different types of services.
Fortunately, there is an easy way to bypass geo-blocking. And that is through connecting to a VPN. The VPN works by routing your traffic through a server in a different country. It hides your IP address and replaces it with a temporary IP address specified by the required country that can help you access restricted content.
As a result, the geo locked content will be unable to determine the difference between a VPN user and someone currently in the region. Also, as an added advantage, VPNs have the ability to encrypt your traffic so that your government, Internet Service Provider (ISP), or employer can’t see what you are up to online. This is quite helpful if you are situated in a country that has strict internet censorship.
Here are some steps you need to know to bypass geo-blocking with a VPN:
- First, you will need to sign up for a suitable VPN. It would be best to choose between NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark;
- Download and install the VPN app;
- Connect to one of your VPN’s servers in the specific country you want. For example, you might need to use a US server to unblock Hulu or a British server to unblock BBC.
- Lastly, log in to the service you selected and play a video. In most cases, the video will start to play immediately. However, if it doesn’t, try clearing your browser’s cookies and cache, then refresh the page.
When Might You Experience Geo-Blocking
There are possibly two situations where you might encounter geo-blocking. One situation is when you attempt to get through a service such as iPlayer, BBC, ESPN, or Netflix abroad. Some streaming platforms can be accessed in other countries, while others are inaccessible from outside of their required countries. For example, Sling TV prohibits you from accessing its content abroad. It leaves you with a message saying, “Sling TV is only available in the US.”
The reason for this is because streaming services tend to have the right to show their contents to use in specific countries. Moreover, it is not just streaming websites; other types of sites can be geo-blocked too. An example of this would be betting websites.
Another situation in which you might experience geo-blocking is when you attempt to access banned, restricted, or is considered against the law in your recent location. This does not automatically mean you are up to no good. Some countries just have different values that might cause them to block content like dating, gambling, and even social media sites.
Depending on where you are situated in the world, you may find yourself unable to access services that might even be considered essentials. This includes FaceTime, Whatsapp, and Skype. All of these and others are most likely blocked in countries such as UAE and China, making it challenging to communicate with friends and loved ones.
Other Ways to Bypass Geo-blocking
The following are some of the other ways that can help you get around geo-blocking:
A proxy server acts as a middle man. It stands between you and the website you want to reach. Since all devices that connect to the internet have an IP address, so does a Proxy server. When you connect to the internet by using a proxy, it can provide you with a different IP address before it redirects you to the website you are attempting to access.
Proxies can help you with getting around geo-blocking. However, they are not as effective and secure as VPN. Furthermore, there are many proxy services you can use online (some of them are free).
Using a tor browser is also another way to bypass geo-blocking. It works like any other browser like Safari, Chrome, and others. Through the Tor browser, you can access all regular websites and special .onion sites available only on the Tor network.
An example would be The New York Times website. It has a .onion site, which means that if you choose to read the paper anonymously, you can do that through the use of Tor. However, Tor doesn’t have the type of security VPN does. It also is quite slow compared to VPN due to its architecture.
DNS Changers and Smart DNS
The DNS or the Domain Name System is responsible for making domain names, such as Facebook, readable. Without DNS, you have to type a long sequence of numbers before you could go to Facebook instead of using a short 8-letter name.
When you use DNS changers or Smart DNS, it can change DNS servers on your computer or any device from the country you are situated to the servers located in a different country. If a website you are trying to get in uses a DNS level block to refuse you access, using DNS changers or a Smart DNS will make sense.
On the downside, DNS changers or a Smart DNS doesn’t change your IP address. It also doesn’t encrypt your data and won’t unlock everything. VPN still is one of the best options there is.
The secret to accessing music-streaming services, TV shows, and sports unavailable in your region is a virtual private network (VPN). After successfully routing traffic to a server in a specified country, you can then enjoy the content you want without any of the restrictions. Moreover, if you can’t bypass geo-blocking through the use of VPN, try out some other ways.
Whether he’s researching the latest mobile hardware specifics or diving deep into the world of software development technologies, Zachary loves to stay in the know. His talent at simplifying and explaining complex technological concepts makes his blog posts easy to read but very informative. Few people are as enthusiastic about mobile technology as he is, and he’s always ready to analyze a new trend.