It’s often a shock, after all why offer an online version of the BBC and then block anyone who isn’t in the UK. But for many trying to access BBC Iplayer when they’re abroad becomes a bit of a challenge, you know it’s possible but connecting up can be difficult. The search usually leads to things like VPNs and proxies, which for anyone living abroad are now essential – they basically give you access to all the best media sites online – irrespective of your location and IP address. So when the BBC, Hulu, ABC or M6 Replay checks your location and IP address and then decide what you can see – the proxy or VPN just tells them what they need to see – and allows you access.
For instance, I was recently in Spain with my work and got kinda bored staying in a hotel. So decided to watch some UK television online using my laptop. Unfortunately I then discovered that because I then had a Spanish IP address (from the hotels Wifi), I was now blocked from all the best UK websites like the BBC Iplayer and ITV etc. It was kind of annoying until I discovered there was a solution and an easy one at that.
By the way if you don’t know why people are so keen to get access to BBC Iplayer – you should really check it out. It’s without doubt one of the best media resources available online, in fact I don’t think anything comes close although there are some excellent US sites like Hulu and Pandora for music.
Anyway for those of us who either live or travel abroad a lot, having access to these sites is a godsend. You don’t have to sit watching a TV show in a language you don’t understand or some awful cable channel.
So What is the Solution to Watching BBC IPlayer Abroad?
Basically the problem is your IP address, everyone is linked to a specific country and it’s very easy to look up. Many websites look your location up as soon as you access their site, they then tailor what you can see based on that information. It’s called Geotargeting and frankly it’s extremely annoying – you’ll normally get an error message like the image below.
Or perhaps this one if you try and access Pandora outside the US.
The way around it is quite simple, you just have to make the website think your in a different country by using an IP address from the required country. Unfortunately you can’t modify your own address easily as this is assigned by your ISP. However you can connect via a proxy server based in the correct country and use it’s address.
So for example to watch BBC Iplayer outside the UK you’d connect through a UK proxy. If you wanted to watch Hulu from outside the US then you’d need a USA proxy, Pandora needs an American one too and so on.
It’s really that simple – the website sees the IP address of the proxy server and not your real one. This short video shows the steps of changing your IP address online –
Where do I get a Proxy Server to Watch Iplayer or Hulu?
There’s a few options depending on time and budget. You can find some free ones online if you search – however it takes a long time to find one in the right country and fast enough to relay video through. In reality you’ll be best to settle on one of the many services that are available. A commercial service should be plenty fast enough and you know it will always be working when you want to watch something.
The one I use is Identity Cloaker which has been around for many years – it’s way better than any of the TV watching services and does much more. Try the trial first if you are unsure to test it out –
Identity Cloaker 10 day trial – it gives you access to all the top media sites in UK, USA, France, Canada and Germany to name only a few.
If you want some further information – try these for further reading:
BBC iPlayer Abroad – http://www.iplayerabroad.com/
A Very Old Post about Watching the BBC (still seems active) – http://www.anonymous-proxies.org/2009/02/using-iplayer-abroad-viewing-bbc-via.html
Why do people look for USA Proxy and VPN servers? Well there’s a variety of reasons and now many people use programs like this, just to hide their identity online. Sometimes specifically for privacy reasons or often they simply need a US IP address to bypass internet blocks based on location.
For example if you are having a holiday in Turkey, don’t presume you can access all the same web sites that you do from the US.
Many sites particularly media sites restrict access to US visitors, blocking any IP addresses from outside the country. In addition you’ll also find that countries like Turkey heavily filter the internet too, often restricting sites like Twitter and Facebook to anyone inside the country.
So on the whole privacy and freedom – these are why many of us use either a US proxy or VPN everyday. So what’s the difference between these two technologies and which one should I use. Both perform basically the same function but in very different ways, which ultimately will define which is best for you.
A proxy is a computer that acts as an intermediary between you an the websites you visit. When you use a proxy, the traffic will appear to come from it’s IP address not yours. This is why people will use a US proxy to access US only resources, a UK proxy to access the BBC and so on.
The two main types of proxies are as follows:
- HTTP proxies – designed to work for web pages i.e HTTP
- Socks Proxies – no specific protocol, handles all traffic.
A few years ago, proxies were pretty much all you needed to access most sites and you could find free ones all over the internet. Nowadays though most media sites can detect and block the use of proxies and there are many security issues with them too. They can still work for a few sites, a proxy based in the UK will still allow you to access the majority of the BBC iPlayer application for example (need a VPN to download from the site though).
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and in some ways they perform a similar function to proxies. A VPN creates a secure, encrypted tunnel between your client and a host VPN server. This allows a new level of privacy as even your ISP cannot see what you do online other than your connected to a secure VPN server. The main advantages are that the VPN provides a much higher level of privacy masking pretty much everything you do online from everyone. They are more resource intensive though and quite costly to run and support, which is why you won’t find any free ones online.
The encryption layer does involve a slight overhead which can slow your connection down slightly. However the better ones like Identity Cloaker compress the data as it’s being transported so can actually slightly speed up your browsing through some VPN servers.
VPNs are much safer to use and if you have access to a VPN in the right country you should be able to access any restricted site. So to be clear you’ll need to use a US VPN or proxy for sites like ABC, HBO and Hulu, but a UK one for BBC, ITV and UK TV sites. Most of the major providers will provide a network of servers across the globe but you should check if you have a specific requirement.
Here’s my two recommendations – both offer full VPNs, fast servers and access to many different countries in the basic subscription. Although both supply software to connect, you can set up the VPNs manually on most other devices like tablets, smart phones and even routers.
Identity Cloaker is definitely, primarily a security product but offers both proxy and VPN modes for accessing BBC Iplayer, Hulu and all media sites. They have loads of US proxy servers and even more UK based ones so if you want to watch the BBC Iplayer service then it’s probably your best option. They do have lots of servers in the France, Germany, Australia, Canada and throughout Europe as well though. They also don’t automatically renew your subscription either which I like.
Overplay is another great little company, I like their connection software which is easy to use. Lots of US servers included in the standard subscription. They also have the widest selection of servers although perhaps many won’t use most of them. If you need a server in somewhere unusual they are most likely to have them. The support staff know their stuff and are very helpful.
You may wonder why I’m writing about Poland and worrying about where to find a proxy server in Poland. Well although I have no real need to access Polish websites, I happen to know a few people who live near me and do.
In years gone by the internet was pretty open, I rarely remembered ever getting blocked access to a website. But things have changed now and there are lots of filters, blocks applied all over the place. In the last few days I was blocked from accessing Hulu in the USA, my banking site and a funny video clip on YouTube because ‘it was not accessible in my region’.
Fortunately for those of us who get cross about these sorts of things – there are now loads of tools and services which can bypass these blocks which use VPNs and proxy servers. It’s easy to find one if you want standard countries like US and the UK but they can be difficult to find for smaller countries.
Using a Polish Proxy
For example my friend comes from Krakow but now has settled in the UK. But much of his family are still in Poland and he often finds himself connecting back to Polish websites. Unfortunately increasingly he gets blocked because his location (or IP address) is outside Poland. Last week it was a Polish TV site online and a bank based in Krakow that had an online service. It’s exactly the same reason you can’t access Hulu from the UK or some of the cracking shows on Canadian TV that are online.
The technology is called Geotargeting and the easiest way you can see this demonstrated is simply by using Google. So here’s what I get if I go to Google –
Google checks my IP address when I connect, cross references with a database of IP Address/Country and sees I’m in the UK so delivers the British version of Google.
But unfortunately this technology is also used to lock me out of many web sites and applications that are not UK based. SO I can’t watch Simpsons on Hulu, listen to music on Pandora or anything that is restricted to other countries.
Anyway I’ll show how I can change my IP address to a Polish one as a quick example. All I need to do is connect to a Polish server and tunnel my connection through that. This will then fool the web site into thinking that’s my location. There are lots of services which can do this but one I use often is called Overplay
Here’s the software working, I just select the country I need and then press connect. In this case I want to get an IP address from Poland so I select a Polish proxy server from the list. I then just put in the username and password and I’m connected – that’s all there is to it – takes about 10 seconds.
Here’s the connection screen, then you just minimize it to the task bar and carry on as normal. However while this is connected all my requests are being routed through the server in Krakow, and that’s where I’ll appear to be from.
Now you can see that if I visit Google, this time I’ll be given the Polish version because my IP address is listed from Krakow. If I change connections I’ll be given a different version Of course this isn’t particularly useful as I’m not really in Poland. But if I wanted to access a Polish media site or online banking then it would be very useful.
Here’s another option demonstrated in this video about accessing TVN player.
If I changed to a US server I could use all the American sites even on my Ipad, change to Canadian server and watch Canadian TV and so on. They’re well worth checking out as you get all the servers included in the subscription – helpful support too – Overplay Trial.
So why would you want to do this? Well the simple answer is that the US Version of Netflix is much better than any other one. It has thousands more shows and films, plus much more recent releases – some of it only just out of European cinemas for example.
There are many examples but here is just one brief explanation of why you may want to change Netflix to US version. It started for me when I became rather hooked on a Sci-Fi series called Lost which you might have heard of. My partner and I had both managed to miss the hysteria about this show the first time round, but got well and truly hooked after a few series. This is one of the great advantages of Netflix, you can find a show you like and then watch the whole thing over a few weeks, with no huge gaps between series.
Just look at this – six years and six seasons of one the best Sci-Fi shows ever made, all for a few dollars a month subscription.
I think it happened about half way through, when we were up to season 3 – we’d been watching for a few weeks an episode a night. Then disaster struck, it just disappeared, gone with no warning or anything – boy were we mad! We were not alone, loads of people were online complaining about this sudden withdrawal and the only help was a vague promise that it might return to the UK Netflix at some point. This was the trigger, up to then I didn’t realise there was such a thing as a UK Netflix but if you search online you’ll find lots of information on this. The best estimates I’ve seen suggest that there are around 4000 items on UK Netflix, but about 9000 plus if you change Netflix to US version.
It is surprisingly easy to do, and after a few weeks of investigating plus trial and error – I think I have found the best solution. First of all forget about using American proxies, VPNs and security programs for this – you don’t need them. Sure they all work, but are difficult to install on anything other than a PC and also can really slow your connection down.
What you need is something called Smart DNS – which is basically a very clever way of accessing any of the world’s country restricted websites by hiding your real location. The best Smart DNS service can hide your location by just rerouting a small part of your initial connection with a server, allowing you to stream directly from the media site after that. Your internet speed will remain pretty much untouched but a whole new world of internet media sites will be opened up to you – from BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Pandora to the US version of Netflix it doesn’t matter where you live.
There are a few, but I only found one which was –
- Easy to Install
- Allowed you to Switch Netflix Locales
The last point is important, although you might want to watch the US version of Netflix the majority of the time – there are some things only found on your home version. For example French and German Netflix have lots of content in French and German, which won’t be on the US version. So you want to be able to switch between the versions –
Instead of switching everyone automatically to the American version of Netflix, this Smart DNS service allows you to switch version using this web page. This is incredibly useful and makes it a doddle to switch between different versions when ever you need. Without this method you’d have to remove the Smart DNS settings from your devices to go back to the original version of Netflix. Anyway here’s how you install it on a computer, but as you can see it’s just as simple to utilize on a Smart Phone, Mac, tablet or any network enabled device.
Basically after you have subscribed to use the Smart DNS servers, you just need to change the default DNS server in network settings. It’s usually accessible on most network devices – I personally use it on a WiiU, Playstation, iPhone, iPad and Smart TV.
For anyone who spends a lot of time online, Smart DNS is one of the most useful applications you can have. It basically is a special DNS server which can filter requests to specific websites and hide your true location. So for example you can use it to watch US only TV stations like Hulu and NBC from Europe, or stream BBC iPlayer or ITV player onto a device outside the UK.
You can get the best value Smart DNS here – Smart DNS Free Trial.
Previously people used proxies and VPNs to bypass these restrictions but these had two main drawbacks –
- Could be difficult to configure outside a PC/Mac environment.
- Involved streaming all traffic through the proxy/VPN server.
For example a proxy server might need a username and password to access, which is fine if you’re using a PC application, but not so easy to get working on a Smart TV or games console. Smart DNS provided pretty much the same functionality (as far as accessing media sites) by simply changing one setting in your network configuration – here’s how it works on a PC.
Pretty neat eh? It can be set up on most devices, once you have enabled Smart DNS for your account, then you just need to find how to change the network settings on the device.
Here’s where to find it on a Samsung Smart Hub TV
The settings and screens can vary from model to model, but hopefully these will point you in the right direction.
You’re looking for the network settings information either in the Wired or Wireless connection settings. If you’re using a wireless connection most of the Network configuration will be assigned automatically by your access point, but don’t worry if you look for manually set the settings you can override the DNS setting (which is the only one you’re interested in).
Simply change the Primary DNS setting to the Smart DNS proxy address then change your country region within the Smart Hub. On most of the current TVs you do this by pressing the following keys – fast forward, 2, 8, 9, rewind keys on your TV remote. Please note if you have a F (2013) or H (2014) model of Samsung TV there is a new key sequence. This will bring up your Internet Service Location where you can change to the country you require, for example American Netflix will require you select the USA.
There are approximately 10 million Twitter users in Turkey but many are reporting bad news. It appears that the social networking site popular across the word has been blocked to many Turkish based users by the country’s telecommunication’s regulator. It’s not quite clear whether this ban has been implemented completely but certainly many users are reporting being redirected towards a warning page when trying to access Twitter.
Here’s the message one mobile phone user got when trying to reach the site.
Twitter and indeed other social networking sites have of course been banned before in Turkey, YouTube was offline for about 2 years before the block was lifted. This time the Turkish Government have been more up front about the ban with the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan vowing to ‘wipe out Twitter’.
He is quoted as saying
“I don’t care what the international community says at all. Everyone will see the power of the Turkish Republic,”
The reason is very probably linked to numerous documents being posted reportedly showing evidence of the widespread corruption relating to the Prime Minister. There have been numerous allegations including recordings of telephone conversations where the prime minister discusses where to hide various huge amounts of money so investigations can’t find them.
Mr Erdogan is of course citing other reasons and legal issues but the reality is very plain to the majority of people and all the Turks I have spoken. Corruption is rife among the upper echelons of the Turkish Government and Twitter is allowing people to speak about it – hardly surprising it’s being banned.
Of course it’s utterly futile and in many senses only serves as an admission of guilt in many people’s eyes. The ban will be circumvented and there are a myriad other ways that any information can be circulated just as quickly, blocking Twitter is just plain stupid.
If you need some help getting into the site then just use a program like Identity Cloaker illustrated here which will bypass all the Turkish web sites blocks quickly and easily. If you want to try it first the demonstration version of Identity Cloaker is available free here for download actually allows access to Twitter so you could use this version for free to access the site and a few others.
For many people, using proxies is an essential step to enable security and personal privacy. They will know that every time they use the internet for anything that a record is kept in many places about their activity. Often it’s just a small cookie or a record in a log, but at your ISP for instance there is a complete record of every site you visit, every file download and every video watched. This is where the authorities go for instance when they want to investigate something, your ISP.
So it’s hardly surprising that many people seek to hide some of this information, you don’t need to be an international jewel thief or extremist terrorist to want a little more privacy than is currently available to the average internet user – i.e none at all.
So then they look at proxies, and indeed a ten minute Google search will point you in this direction. The proxy server will sit in between you and the web site you visit, meaning that they cannot record your visit properly – only the proxy address. You’ll still get everything logged in your ISP though unless the connection is encrypted perhaps using a VPN or SSH instead.
But here lies a problem, proxies can offer a layer of security but only when they are configured and administered properly. If they aren’t then you are merely handing over yet another complete record of your online activity to another server. In fact it can be worse than that, lots of of the ‘free proxies’ available online are only put there to steal and harvest people’s data. Enterprising hackers will take over these open proxies and log all the data that is transmitted through them – looking for usernames, passwords and identity information that can be used to make them money.
The internet is swarming with free proxies, using the vast majority of them is a really bad idea. I logged into four the other week completely at random and all of them were completely insecure in fact two of them had the proxy service itself running in the context of the ‘root’ account – something only a real IT novice would ever do and extremely dangerous. The reality is that a server is only secure when someone is taking the time and effort to ensure it is secure – that knowledge and effort is rarely available for free.
However if you’re only using a proxy to stream video, perhaps from BBC iPlayer or another media site then perhaps a free proxy could work? After all there’s no personal data just a stream of video so what’s the harm?
Well nothing really, the problem here is much more about practicalities, all these free proxies are completely overloaded and run at a pitifully slow rate. Occasionally you’ll unearth a little fast gem that has escaped notice by the proxy scrapers – but it won’t be fast for long -rarely longer than an hour or so. Expect to spend more time looking for new servers than using them. If you can afford it then a paid subscription is definitely the way forward. Here’s one I recommend in this video – Fast Proxy Server.
As you can see the proxies in this program run very quickly indeed, if you want to stream HD or even standard resolution video or media then a slow proxy will make most un watchable.
I used to love Netflix, it’s different, has lots of great movies/series and it’s very easy to access using Smart TVs or my favorite the Roku. But this Summer they pushed me too far, I had ‘discovered’ the show – Lost about 8 years later than everyone else. I’d listened to everyone rave about this, glazed over as they discussed strange sound plots and completely ignored it – mainly due to the hype. Well one day I noticed it on my Netflix account and thought I’d give it a try, the rest is a story about obsession. For a few days I watch a couple of episodes a day – right up to my vacation. I couldn’t wait to get back to complete the series but when I returned it had gone !!!!
Lost no longer appeared anywhere on the listings, a search revealed it was ‘unable to stream’. A Google search revealed lots of very upset people like me, stuck on an episode somewhere, stranded at some cliff hanger movement and now we were all ‘Lost’.
No warning, no countdown enabling you to take a few days off work and cram them in. One day Lost was there and the next day it had completely disappeared, what a wonderful way to treat your customers! Well a little research, led me to a few conclusions – firstly the show had only actually been removed from the UK Netflix, secondly Lost was still streaming on the US version and lastly my account would work on US Netflix if I had an American IP address.
So here’s what I discovered –
The truth is that if you use IP cloaking software like Identity Cloaker and hide your real IP address – you can be watching US Netflix irrespective of your real location. If you haven’t checked it out, then you’ll also discover that the US version had loads more shows and films – usually much more up to date stuff too. So it doesn’t matter if you’re in Canada, Germany, UK or Italy then you don’t have to stick with the version of Netflix you have been assigned you can pick your own.
You don’t need to open a new Netflix account, they seem to be global but just redirected to the country you are in.
Most of the blocks, bans and filters online are based on your location. It’s slightly ironic that the internet was meant to bring us all together, yet most of the world’s media sites are working out ways they can block people from different locations.
Anyway the vast majority of these sites simply look up your IP address when you connect before deciding if you watch or not. So for example to watch CTV the Canadian broadcaster, you’ll have to be based in Canada or connect from a Canadian IP address.
Unfortunately it’s difficult to control your real address as this is assigned to you when you connect to the internet by your ISP. Although it will sometimes vary, it will always be linked to the country you are connecting from.
Fortunately, you can hide your real IP address by conencting via an intermediary – often known as a proxy or VPN server.
How to Watch CTV Outside Canada
Anyway the easiest way to see how it’s done is to watch this short video.
That’s all there is to it. Using a program like Identity Cloaker means you can swap your IP address with a click of the mouse whenever you like. Switch to a Canadian one for CTV, then back to a US address for Hulu followed by a British IP address for the wonderful BBC iPLayer – more here – www.iplayerusa.org.
If you want to do it for free, you’ll need to find a free Canadian proxy you can use and modify your browser settings to use it instead. It’s not hard to do but unfortunately it’s difficult to find the servers, proxies and VPN servers are very expensive things to run.
You can try it out by using the Identity Cloaker trial account – 10 days of CTV, Iplayer, Hulu or whatever you need to check it works for a few dollars – for the price of a coffee and sandwich you’ll be impressed I’m sure!
You know sometimes you just wanna share a song…….
It’s worth a listen….