Forget cable boxes, screw satellite dishes. Online streaming services have taken the world by storm as one of the fastest, most effective ways to get access to your favorite shows. More often than not it’s cheaper than a cable subscription, and you don’t get loaded down with a bunch of channels you don’t even want.
Netflix is one of the biggest names in the biz, with over 10 million subscribers around the world, and tens of thousands of titles available across North and South America, Europeand Australia.
Feeding into the frenzy, Netflix has put out some seriously stellar original series, even debuting an original Christmas special with famed Groundhog Day star Bill Murray entitled Murrayed. The service has seen wild success, and there’s no end in sight as new titles continue to come to Netflix every day.
Where is Netflix Blocked?
Of course, Netflix isn’t available everywhere. Aside from the usual broadcasting restrictions, Netflix is limited by countries that have some pretty strict standards for content access. As a result, the service is unavailable in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
This is due largely to the fact that Netflix offers so much access to such a variety of titles that it’s pretty difficult to police the content. Places like the United Arab Emirates and China have really strict standards on what they consider morally acceptable content, and as a result access to Netflix and similar services is pretty heavily controlled.
How Does Internet Censorship Work?
When you try to access content overseas, a lot of times the language that’s displayed on web pages changes automatically. The same reason your access to certain sites and services is blocked is responsible for this—your IP address.
When you attempt to access a website or server, your IP address is visible to the site. This unique code gives the web servers your rough location information, which they in turn use to determine what kind of content you will have access to. Your IP address is used to determine what language web pages are displayed in, and even what kind of ads you see while you’re online.
This is how geo restrictions work. When you try to access websites, they pick up on your IP address, which gives them your geographic location. From there, content filters are applied, and they can determine what content you are authorized to have access to.
Accessing Blocked Websites at School and Work
The same principles apply to school and work networks, just on a smaller scale. Chances are your bosses and professors aren’t keen on you streaming Netflix on the clock, so sites such as this and other entertainment sources are generally on a blocked list by the network administrator.
Typically in an effort to keep students and employees on task, sites and services such as Netflix are blocked, keeping you away from your favorite shows, even if it’s your lunch hour.
You can access blocked content on privately controlled networks easily enough, and the most reliable way is to hide your IP address. If you can conceal your real IP address and route your traffic through a different server, you can essentially trick servers into thinking you’re somewhere else.
The easiest way to do this is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs are subscription services that give you access to a network of servers. When you download their software, you can route your web traffic through their servers instead of the ones local to you, bypassing content filters altogether.
How a VPN Can Unblock Netflix
Since Netflix isn’t available in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, you’ll need to install a VPN before you travel if you want to stream it there. Just make sure you sign up for one before you go – a lot of times, these services are also blocked in those areas.
Once installed, just choose a server in a location with access to the Netflix content you want and connect. The VPN will actually make it look like you’re in that country instead, giving you access to all of the same titles you would have if you were actually there.
Just login in to your Netflix account, and you can instantly start streaming all of your favorite shows. This is also a great way to check out foreign titles or watch American shows in places such as Australia and the UK.
Like most other web content, what you can watch on Netflix is actually subject to your location, and content availability varies by country. With a VPN, you can literally choose the content you want to watch just be selecting a different server location.
What to Look for in a VPN
Since you’ll be using this VPN primarily for streaming, there are a few key features you’re going to want to make sure you get before you commit to a service plan:
Unlimited bandwidth: So you don’t have to worry about your connection being throttled
A large network of servers: You’re more likely to get a faster connection, the more servers there are to choose from
A fast connection: Look for speed test results in reviews to see who offers the fastest connections
Compatibility with your device: Don’t even consider VPNs that won’t work with all of your devices
If you have travel plans, or are just sick of not being able to access the content you want at work or school, a VPN is the fastest way to get back online with Netflix.