Are you traveling abroad and want to keep up with your favorite shows back at home? Perhaps you just want access to premium or restricted content that is only available to residents of another country?
In some instances, geo-restrictions are necessary. But, let’s face it, it can be incredibly frustrating when you are eager to access a site only to be interrupted by a message saying “Sorry, You Cannot View This Content from your Location.’’ So annoying.
Fortunately, a Virtual Private Network can help you get around such geo-blocks. In this article, we’ll explain how a Virtual Private Network (VPN) works. We’ll also show you how to access geo-blocked websites from anywhere in the world.
Why Are There Geo-Restrictions?
Geo-restrictions limit the type of content or services people in different parts of the world can access. This mostly happens because of copyright and licensing regulations. Even if Netflix, BBC, Hulu, or Amazon wanted to make all the content in their library accessible to everyone in the world, they would not be able to.
First, they do not own the copyrights to all the shows on their platform. Therefore, they cannot freely distribute this content as though it was theirs.
Secondly, in each country, these distributors have to pay large amounts of money in licensing fees to broadcast shows there. If they were to avail all their shows in every country, the licensing costs would likely be unbearable!
It’s All about the IP Address
If you are new to geo-blocking, you are probably wondering how a website like Netflix, Spotify, or Pandora is able to limit your access based on your location.
Here it is: The laptop, smartphone, or tablet you use to access the internet has an identifying IP address that varies with location. The IP address of an internet user in Austria would be different from that of a user in South Africa. This is why if you try to access Netflix USA from Austria, you will be redirected to the local Austrian catalog. Or why, if you try to access BBC iPlayer from outside the UK you will receive the message “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK.”
It goes without saying that hiding your IP address is the best way to get around these restrictions. So, for example, if you want to avoid Netflix Streaming Error while trying to access US shows, a VPN can help by masking your location.
How To Bypass Geo-Blocks With A VPN
A VPN is your best bet for successfully hiding your IP address and therefore unblocking restricted sites.
Think of a VPN as a capsule that protects your identity, location, and activities online. When you install a VPN app on your device, the software encrypts and sends your data to a remote server. This data is then sent to the intended destination, that is, the website server.
Depending on the location of the server you select, the VPN makes it look like your data is coming from the server’s location and not your actual location. For example, say you installed a VPN and select the UK as your server location. You would be able to access an otherwise geo-blocked site such as BBC iPlayer while streaming outside the UK.
But, not too fast! There is a catch. Many content platforms have developed sophisticated software to detect unblocker apps. To fly under the radar of these sites, you will need a very good VPN.
Free VPNs simply do not have the necessary infrastructure to unblock geo-restricted content. We’ve found ExpressVPN to be one of the best VPNs for unblocking Netflix and other such sites.
Whether you are using a laptop or smartphone, a VPN works the same way to hide your location. The only downside is that you have to install the software separately on each of your devices. If you want to access geo-blocked videos on your smartphone while on the go, you can pick one of our favorite VPNs for iPhone.
We are still a long way from a world where information flows freely. Until then, a reliable VPN should be part of your arsenal if you are looking to circumvent the frontiers and unlock geo-restricted content.