If you ever traveled abroad, you might’ve noticed that films listed on Netflix change when you enter a new country. That’s because copyright laws differ from place to place, making it easier—or harder—to obtain and show certain films.
This is an example of geo-blocking, a digital practice that restricts access to certain content based on a user’s geographic location. This can be really frustrating, especially if you’re in the middle of watching a show that just, poof, disappears once you cross the border into a new country.
Luckily, there are ways to undo geo-blocking and trick your computer into thinking you’re still in your home county. Let’s see how it works.
Do you want to learn more about Geo-blocking and ways to bypass it? Then use the table of contents below to jump to the most relevant section. And you can always go back by clicking on the black arrow in the right bottom corner of the page. Also, please note that some of the links in this article may be affiliate links. For more details, check the Disclosure section at the bottom of the page.
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Every device that’s connected to the internet is assigned an IP address. Geo-blocking operates by identifying a user’s IP address or other location-based data to determine where that user is. This is called geolocation.
Once a website figures out where you are, it then decides what you’re allowed to access. This is usually dictated by country-specific licensing agreements, copyright laws, and other regional restrictions. It’s important to note that the process of geolocation isn’t always accurate. Your computer might think you’re in a specific country when you’re really somewhere totally different.
While we humans communicate with each other using words and letters, computers use numbers. That’s why they use IP addresses while we use domain names.
A Domain Name System (DNS) is a method used to turn these domain names into something a computer can read, aka an IP address.This system is often used in geo-blocking to help a website find an IP address and, thus, find out a user’s location.
Websites can alter the DNS in order to redirect users to a region-specific version of the website that complies with all local regulations.
Geo-blocking can be annoying. So, how do you get around these restrictions and get back to watching your favorite show? Here are a couple of tricks:
Connecting to a VPN is one of the best ways to bypass a geo-restriction. When you use a VPN, your internet connection is directed through a server located in a different spot. This server then gives you a fresh IP address tied to a different location.
This allows you to access content that is normally restricted in your actual geographical area, providing a way to enjoy a broader range of online content and services.
Some content providers, like Netflix, have VPN bans in place, but this can be fixed by using a reliable VPN service with a dedicated IP address. These are less recognizable as VPNs by platforms like Netflix.
You can also try to get around geo-restrictions with proxy servers. Proxy servers can help users access content from another country by rerouting traffic through a server in another location. These servers also add an extra layer of privacy and security. In fact, research shows proxy servers prevent approximately 79% of data breaches.
However, proxy servers aren’t always secure. Some might log your data or not provide strong encryption, which could expose your information. When choosing a proxy server, it’s crucial to opt for reputable and trustworthy options to ensure your data remains protected.
Remember when we talked about DNS services? Well, there’s something called a Smart DNS service that alters your DNS settings in order to help you access region-blocked. Smart DNS services are specifically designed to help users access region-locked content.
This is also a faster option for streaming. However, Smart DNS primarily targets the DNS aspects of web browsing and doesn’t have the full encryption provided by a VPN.
Browser extensions can also help you bypass geo-blocking. These extensions act as intermediaries between your browser and a specific website, almost like a mini VPN or proxy server.
Unlike a VPN, browser extensions only affect your browser traffic. That makes them a great choice for quickly accessing content without reconfiguring a VPN. If you use Chrome, you can also consider a VPN Chrome extension to enhance your online freedom.
Unfortunately, the effectiveness of browser extensions varies greatly, and some websites are better than others at detecting and blocking traffic from extensions.
TOR doesn’t primarily focus on bypassing geo-blocking, but it can help you access restricted content. It’s a network that reroutes internet connection through multiple volunteer-operated servers, making it harder to tell where that user is located.
However, TOR’s primary purpose is to provide anonymity and privacy, not to bypass geo-blocking. While it might help access some geo-blocked content, it’s not a guaranteed method. It can also potentially slow down internet speeds.
A virtual machine (VM) is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It’s a machine or computer that exists virtually. This virtual environment can run its own operating system and applications, meaning you can set up a VM with a different location or IP address.
In the age of streaming services geo-blocking is a prevalent practice that affects many of us, limiting our access to content and services based on our geographical location.
In this article, we touched on various methods to bypass geo-blocking, including using a VPN, proxy servers, Smart DNS, browser extensions, TOR, and virtual machines.
Use these six tricks to get past these restrictions and continue enjoying the content your country, or any other country for that matter, has to offer.
Credits: Thanks for the photo to Canva.
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