There are some wonderful media sites available in the US at the moment although there are some problems for many people who want to access them online. Many of them are now only available to cable subscribers and you need your subscription information to be able to use the site. However some are still available and one of the best sites is the AMC channel from AMC Networks.
Not only does the AMC site not require any login or subscriptions, it also carries some of the best TV shows from the last few years, including my all time favorite Zombie drama – The Walking Dead.
However there is one small issue for some people trying to watch the AMC site and that’s the fact that it is only accessible if you’re located in the USA. When you try and access any of the media files on the site, your IP address is checked to determine your location, if the address is outside the US then you can’t watch any of the shows at all.
Fortunately there is a solution and it’s quite a simple one – you just need to use a Fast USA proxy to hide your real location like this.
This works by relaying your internet connection through a fastusaproxy server based in the USA. Therefore when you connect to the AMC site, it will see the proxy address and not your real IP address. The video demonstrates how to use a software program called Identity Cloaker to route your connection through the US server.
It is important to use a fast server though as speed is crucial to being able to watch any media files online. Remember that the video stream has to be relayed through the proxy itself so if that server and it’s throughput is not very fast then you will experience high levels of latency and buffering if you try and watch video.
A VPN is primarily a security product, a secure virtual private network which can protect data in an unsecure environment. Nowadays that insecure environment is normally the internet, an amazing global network that has transformed our lives but as far as security goes it’s pretty hopeless. The problem with the internet, is the very reason it’s become so pervasive – it works with all sorts of different devices. Can you imagine if the internet was segmented – my Apple Mac could only connect with Apple Web servers or web sites on Linux servers could only be accessed via Linux desktops? It would be fairly hopeless, yet it would be much, much easier to implement security in this context.
Of course we do have security in our web browsing of sorts – it comes in the form of the SSL layer in HTTPS. The little padlock you see at the front of the web address means that your communication with that web site is encrypted and is not transmitted in clear text. Everything else that goes through your browser does travel in clear text across hundred of routers, switches and hubs owned by a myriad of companies and organisations. HTTPS is not that secure anyway and connections can be intercepted and accessed but it’s certainly better than nothing.
However it’s without a doubt that a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is much more secure, it consists of an encrypted tunnel between two points in which data is transmitted. It ensures that nobody can intercept data, particularly at it’s most vulnerable point which is at transmission. You can see the attraction particularly if you’ve ever sat using a public wifi network at a cafe or hotel with a packet sniffer and seen everyone’s data fly across your screen (try it!).
So of course security is important however the reality is that today a VPN service is not always used for it’s primary purpose. It’s more used for hiding your IP address – in order to bypass filters and content restrictions. Using a VPN as an online IP changer – like this video demonstrates:
Means not only can you bypass heavy handed government filtering, such as Turkey which routinely blocks the big social media sites. You can also side step the much more common geo-blocks which the world’s major media sites operate. Most of these need you to be in the country of broadcast to gain access – USA for HBO, UK for BBC and so on. However if you use a VPN which terminates in a specific country then you can bypass these blocks. So the next generation of VPN software allow you to switch your connection between different countries therefore bypassing all these blocks.
Which is great but of course, if you’re just trying to stream the latest ‘Game of Thrones’ onto your PC or laptop, you’re probably not that bothered about security only whether you can watch without buffering and in HD. The secret to this of course is speed, a speed VPN for PC is the important factor not whether someone can decrypt your data – a video stream isn’t that interesting anyway.
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.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it – as Hulu is one of the most popular TV/Video sites on the planet. It’s full of great American shows and not just the two year old ones – you’ll find the very latest Simpsons, Family Guy, Glee and Americas’s Got Talent. Anyway the problem is that unless you live in the US you won’t be able to watch it at all.
Watching Hulu from Outside the US
Here’s what happens when you try and access the Hulu site – you get the following little message –
It doesn’t matter where you live, if it’s not in the USA then you’ll get this message or similar. Even if you try from Canada you’ll get exactly the same – doesn’t seem fair does it !! The problem is that the website looks up your IP address when you connect and works out where you’re based – anything non-US and you can’t access the site, you need to present a US IP address or you won’t get anywhere.
The solution as many have found is to hide your real IP address and use one that is based in the USA. You have to use a US server to route all your traffic through when accessing Hulu.
You used to be able to use a simple US proxy server for this and there were even a few free ones supported by advertising like Hotspot Shield. However unfortunately those don’t work now as Hulu is able to detect when these proxies are being used.
You need to find a service that provides a more secure connection, or if you work for a company who have a US office ask them if they have a VPN you can use !
Anyway you’ll find there are lots of companies offering proxies and VPN services online – mostly for a very reasonable cost. The one I use is actually a security program which is great for watching media sites as they have lots of servers in different countries and it’s certainly the best value – it’s called Identity Cloaker.
It’s very easy to use – here’s the screen where you select the proxy server to use –
It’s very easy to use – whenever you need to hide your IP address, you fire it up and simply click on the server you need – in this case for Hulu, you need a US based one. Identity Cloaker has servers in the UK, Canada, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Australia and a few others.
If you go back to the Hulu site you’ll go straight in and be able to watch the shows without any problem. There’s a very good video demonstrating the process on YouTube here, this uses a different program called Overplay which also works well.
I currently though use Identity Cloaker all over the world – for BBC IPlayer and ITV when outside the UK and for the US sites when I’m at home. It’s well recommended, the servers are really fast and you can even run the program from a USB key if you use different computers when travelling – try the 10 Day Trial Here to check it out first.
If you want to see a post on how to use it watch BBC Iplayer – this might help you – BBC Iplayer Abroad 2012