Everywhere you go online you’re seeing ads or reading news/entertainment articles about some new series being presented by Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or any one of the several online streaming services. 

It sounds awesome and you’re dying to see it. It’s Friday night and you’re homesick, so you figure you’ll curl up and binge watch for the weekend. 

Except—it has a geo-restriction against it. Of course. 

So what can you do? Do you have to accept defeat and just hope that sometime in the coming years you’ll be able to see that show in your own country? No. 

In just a few minutes I can tell you how to get around this restriction and any sort of restrictions that might be placed on online content. 

But first, let’s talk about why—and how—those restrictions are in place to begin with. 

The how. Everywhere you go on the internet is tagged—for lack of a better word—with the public IP address assigned by your ISP (Internet Service Provider). ISPs have blocks of these addresses and you get one that either remains static or sometimes cycles. But that address defines a global location. Geolocation. So as soon as you visit a website—any website—there is technology that may be in place that can identify your location. And throw up a fence if you are not allowed access. 

Note that geolocating isn’t always used against you. There are a lot of times it might be quite useful. For example, have you ever noticed when shopping online—or just window shopping—that your local currency is displayed? Or some deal, like free shipping, is being offered to your location? That’s because the site you’re on is geo-tracking you. 

Briefly, the why. Streaming content like what you want to watch this weekend is copywrited. Different broadcasters will also have distribution rights. Both of these restrictions can be, and usually are, regional. So in order for those rights to be upheld, your entrance to these streaming sites is monitored. If you are coming from a region that their rights and laws don’t cover, access is denied. 

Finally, what you can do to get around or bypass these restrictions. 

Use a VPN

My first suggestion is to use a VPN. There are many to choose from, so check reviews and ratings. For example, this PureVPN review

Once you’ve done your research and chosen the VPN you would like to use, you may need to do a little bit of research to find out what country has no restrictions around whatever it is you want to access or watch. 

Let’s assume—and this is probably true—that you’re trying to access content from the United States. Now that you have your VPN up and running, all you need to do is choose an IP address that originates from the US. Once you’ve done that, your own local IP address is no longer visible on the internet. You are essentially cloaked behind your virtual private network. So when your traffic is routed from your device to the online streaming service, it will appear as though you are situated in the United States and the security measures or geo-blocking will allow you in and give you access.

There’s another reason why you might want to make it appear as though you are in a different country. Some countries have censorship laws that will only allow you to travel to specific virtual sites. If you’re using a VPN and have your IP address hidden, you have the ability to surf anywhere on the internet.

Use a Proxy Site

An alternative to setting up and using a VPN is to use a proxy site. In some ways, a proxy site is much the same as a VPN in that you are surfing the internet behind an IP address that is not your own. Again you would choose a proxy that originates in the country you want to access content in, and this proxy acts as a middleman of sorts. So when you arrive at your virtual destination of choice it appears that you’re arriving from somewhere else. So you’re shielded behind the proxy and allowed to remain anonymous.

However, note that proxy services are limited. Many of the larger streaming service providers, such as Netflix or Hulu will detect the proxy and not grant access. Some proxies can slow down transfer rates considerably as well, so this is not a viable option if you’re wanting to use it to stream high definition content like a video. 

So in conclusion, while using a proxy is an alternative, it’s probably best you just use it for the occasional internet traffic, perhaps while you’re traveling. Otherwise, my suggestion is to use a VPN, as you are assured a higher level of security and better chances of being able to access blocked services.