Photo by Mollie Sivaram en Unsplash
If you frequently travel to other countries, you might have noticed that not all content you’re used to at home is available elsewhere. Some region restricted content maybe a show on streaming service or even an entire website. The reason why this happens is geo-blocking. Due to different contracts or
policies, companies restrict or entirely block their content from certain area codes.
Fortunately, there are a few tricks to access any content you want from anywhere in the world. Read along to learn why geo-blocking happens and how you can bypass it to enjoy the content you’re used to.
Why Geo-Blocking Happens
Geo-blocking is the process of restricting access to online content based on location. Websites use visitor IP addresses to determine their location. Once they detect your IP address belongs to a restricted location, the geo-block activates, preventing you from accessing the site or specific content.
Popular streaming services like Netflix are where people often notice restricted access to content in different locations. Even certain YouTube videos may only be shown in certain countries.
The number one reason geo-blocking happens is licensing agreements. Netflix, Hulu, and similar services don’t own most of their content. They get it from media companies, who impose their will on how and where their content will be shared. A lot of times, they will only share it in places where they think it will be profitable.
That’s why streaming services and large corporations are starting to pour billions of dollars into creating their own content. This would end their dependency on third-party media companies. Four ways to bypass region-based restrictions While geo-restricted content may not be here forever, we are still likely years away before it’sgone.
Luckily, there are a few ways to bypass the restrictions right now and access any content from anywhere:
1. Use a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) hides your IP address and routes your internet traffic through a remote server. The remote server can be located anywhere in the world. So connecting to a VPN server in a different country will allow you to use the internet as if you were physically there.
For example, If you’re from the US and are on vacation in Europe, you can connect to a US-based VPN server and enjoy all of your favorite shows as if you were home.
SmartDNS is technology specifically created to bypass geo-blocking. It does so by routing your DNS queries through its servers. Essentially, SmartDNS tricks the website that you’re entering from an approved location. Many VPN services have a SmartDNS feature, but the two technologies are different and can’t be active simultaneously.
Unlike a VPN, SmartDNS won’t hide your IP address or traffic. It’s ideal for retaining access to networks that you can only use with your actual IP address.
3. A proxy server
A proxy server is a “middle-man” between you and the website you’re trying to reach. It works by changing your IP address and tricking the website that you’re in a different geo-location. One major downside of proxy servers is that they only work on browsers. You will also likely have to pay as free ones are relatively unreliable.
4. The onion router (Tor)
Tor is a notorious web browser mainly used to access the dark web. Since Tor hides your IP address each time there’s traffic coming from your device, you can also use it as a geo-unlocking tool.
The one good thing about Tor is that it’s free. Other than that, it offers very little compared to the previous options. It’s slow, unreliable, and some sites automatically block Tor connections.
Accessing Region Restricted Content
Geo-blocking is an annoying yet necessary part of the internet. Companies need it to abide by certain regulations and laws. For the user, however, it can be frustrating not being able to access the content they’re used to each time they travel. Luckily, there are several ways in which you can bypass geo-blocking during your next trip.