With hundreds of streaming websites on the web, the world is your oyster when it comes to content variety.
Unless you need to deal with content restrictions like geo-blocks, firewalls, and government censorship, that is.
I know how annoying stuff like that can be, so I’m going to show you how to get around it without much effort.
But since there are so many streaming platforms, and because Netflix is the most popular and well-known one for now, I’ll be using it as an example when discussing how to unblock content.
So then, how do you actually bypass content restrictions?
Well, the best ways to unblock most streaming websites (especially Netflix) is with a VPN or a Smart DNS.
1. Using a VPN
A VPN is an online service you can use to quickly get access to websites like Netflix. VPNs hide your IP address, so any streaming website you access won’t manage to block you with geo-restrictions since they won’t know what your real geo-location is.
Overall, if you want to unblock Netflix US, you just need to connect to a US-based VPN server. The moment you do that, the server replaces your IP address with its own. Any website you access from then on will think you’re from the US.
On top of that, a VPN also encrypts your Internet traffic, making it indecipherable to anyone who tries to monitor it (check other VPN benefits).
Why does that matter?
Because it means your ISP can no longer lower your speeds if they feel like you’re using too much data binging Netflix. Since they can’t see what you do online, they can’t actually throttle your bandwidth. At most, they’ll think you’re browsing an HTTPS website, but won’t know which one.
Also, since a VPN both hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic, you’ll also bypass any firewall you come across. So no government agency or workplace admin will be able to decide what you can and can’t watch on the web.
Will a VPN Slow Down Your Speeds?
There is a chance that might happen. It’s not 100% likely to occur, but you might notice a slight slowdown every once in a while.
Usually, that depends on how far you are from the VPN server, as being on a different continent will result in noticeable drops in speed.
That, and how strong the VPN encryption and protocol are. For example, a resource-intensive protocol like OpenVPN is more likely to lower your speeds than a lightweight protocol like IKEv2, SoftEther, or L2TP/IPSec.
Of course, if your own ISP speeds are pretty bad, or you have an old computer with an outdated CPU (which is necessary for processing VPN encryption), the drop in online speeds might be even more noticeable.
The Importance of Using the Right VPN
While VPNs are pretty versatile at unblocking streaming platforms, not all of them can unblock Netflix. That’s because the company uses what is known as Proxy Detection to see if their users access content through a VPN or proxy server.
Proxy Detection has made quite a lot of victims since Netflix started using it, and continues to do so to this day.
So, you really need to do your homework when choosing a provider since only a decent VPN will unblock Netflix geo-restrictions. If you want to save yourself some trouble, though, just follow the link I left. You’ll get an in-depth and easy-to-understand overview of the best VPNs for Netflix – including info about which libraries they unblock.
2. Using a Smart DNS
Smart DNS services are online services that hide your DNS address (which also leaks your geo-location), and mask your real geographical location with the help of dedicated proxy servers.
Also, these services will even go as far as intercepting your connection requests to platforms like Netflix, and removing any data in the requests that can leak your geo-location. Once they do that, they replace it with new data that points to whitelisted locations.
All in all, a Smart DNS is a convenient way to bypass geo-blocks – especially since it allows you to enjoy your original ISP speeds, something VPNs can’t do.
However, there are some drawbacks you should be aware of:
- A Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your traffic. Not only will advertisers be able to spy on what Netflix shows you binge, but your ISP will also throttle your bandwidth whenever they feel like it.
- Because a Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your traffic or hide your IP address, it can’t help you bypass firewalls – be them at school, work, or in a country that censors the web.
Why Not Use Tor to Unblock Streaming Sites Like Netflix?
Sure, Tor can be a decent option. It’s an anonymity network after all, and it definitely hides your IP address. Plus, it encrypts your Internet traffic just like a VPN.
So why wouldn’t you use it as well?
Well, the speed, for one. If you try to use Tor to unblock streaming websites, you won’t be happy with the results.
Because they speeds will be pretty bad. Unfortunately, Tor’s infrastructure just can’t handle the current number of users.
According to Tor statistics, there are now roughly 2 million people who use the network. Unfortunately, there are only around 6,000 servers.
It doesn’t take a scientist to realize there’s no way that number of servers can handle so many people and offer fast speeds at the same time.
Other than that, there’s another issue – Tor might actually be unable to unblock certain streaming websites, specifically the ones that use Cloudflare security software. Apparently, Cloudflare users can just use a firewall option to completely block Tor traffic.
That might not seem like much, but consider this – approximately 76.9% of all websites use Cloudflare.
Lastly, the Tor devs themselves make it clear Netflix blocks Tor traffic.
So yeah, you can try using Tor, but don’t be surprised if you don’t see any results.