For travellers, expats and geeks there’s an essential tool which can transform your internet experience. It’s a simple tool which allows you to perform one important function – the ability to control your IP address.
A little background, the IP (Internet Protocol) address is the ‘unique’ network number which is assigned to your device when you connect to the internet. It doesn’t matter if it’s a computer, laptop, tablet, smart TV or even an internet enabled fridge! Every device which access the internet does so through this network identification number.
This is fine, it’s how the internet works after all. This IP address is assigned through whatever service you connect to the internet through – be it an home based ISP, office network, hotel Wifi or maybe your local coffee shop. The address is assigned automatically and enables data to be delivered to your device when you’re connected.
The problem is that this address is completely out of your control, even if you are connecting from home you have no way of directly controlling it. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem in the internet of a decade ago, however nowadays it’s a real issue. Not only are numerous entities logging, monitoring and analysing your web activity – many web sites are actually controlling what you can do online too.
So as I sat down in a rather boring hotel, based on the outskirts of a Dutch Industrial estate last week to enjoy the latest episodes of Z Nation I had something of a surprise! When I fired up my Netflix account on my trusty Samsung laptop I noticed something strange – lots of foreign language shows (in languages I couldn’t understand). Worst still they only had the first series of Z Nation which I’d finished watching about two years ago!!
You see I was being connected to the Dutch version of Netflix. Now when you visit a foreign country, you of course don’t expect them to switch all the TV and radio stations over to suit a US visitor. But this is my Netflix account, on my computer, paid for on a US credit card. Why should I suddenly want to watch the Netherland’s version of the entertainment channel !! I can’t understand half of it anyway.
Surely it’s better to link the user with his home version of Netflix, unless they specify otherwise. Unfortunately that’s not the case, the version of Netflix you receive is linked to the IP address that you connect to. So a American Netflix user who travels a lot is going to get flung around the versions of the world when all he wants to watch is some home grown US Zombie action !
IP Address American Netflix
Which brings me back to my original point, you’re completely at the mercy of these websites unless you are able to control your IP address. Now as stated earlier, it’s impossible to actually change this IP address but you can hide it and display a different one. So although I am always going to connect through a Dutch ISP when in Holland, I can connect through a server in the US and appear to have a US IP address for American Netflix. The methods for doing this have changed over the last few years, unfortunately you can’t use things like US DNS servers or find some UK Netflix DNS code anymore – all these methods are now blocked. So how can you access American Netflix -well here’s how it’s done –
It also works well for accessing websites which are simply blocked, for example AMC, NBC, ABC and Hulu are not accessible without a US IP address. If you don’t use a VPN you’re going to be restricted to the websites in your current location certainly with regards to media sites.
The VPN also gives you a higher level of security and privacy, when you are connected all your browsing is private and the connection is encrypted so no personal details can be intercepted.
Truthfully there are tons of these services out there, and it can be difficult to decide which one to use. Our personal recommendation is a service called Identity Cloaker – it offers fast access to servers all over the world and is not expensive. It also doesn’t try to lock you into long subscriptions which are difficult to cancel just use and let it expire when you’ve finished.
You can try their 10 day trial here – IDC