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Many people use proxies to bypass internet filters and regional restrictions. For example YouTube videos are often restricted to specific countries and it’s quite common to get the message – ‘not available in your country’. However these are enforced by looking up your IP address and if you use a proxy you can effectively bypass these blocks. They work because if you use proxy servers and connect through them, it’s the address of the server which is identified not your real address. So if you use a US proxy you can access US only sites, use a UK server for British web sites and so on. Well this is how it used to work, invest a few pennies to buy a cheap proxy or scrape a cheap proxy list and you were sorted. These days have long gone now because of technical implementations in detecting these servers.
Unfortunately most of the websites that operate these region blocks can detect the use of proxies and they are mostly blocked. Even if you use a high quality US proxy server, you won’t be able to access sites like Netflix or Hulu without receiving these sort of messages –
The usefulness of a proxy server is fairly limited now with more and more sites automatically blocking access from them. There are some issues with this, particularly people who surf through corporate networks for example. Most firms use proxies in order to control access to the internet and limit security problems, so when Hulu blocks access through proxies it’s actually affecting this group as well.
Ensure the High Quality US Proxy Server Has a VPN Mode
If you want to bypass all the region locks and completely remove all of the restrictions on your internet connection then it’s a VPN service you should be using. A VPN is a Virtual private network and operates in a similar way to a proxy server however the connection is encrypted and almost impossible to identify. Even the highest quality proxy server can be detected however there is currently no method for actively identifying an incoming connection from a VPN server.
However, you have to be careful even when selecting a VPN service to use – some of the media companies have started to manually block these services too. What they do is identify IP address ranges and companies who advertise the ability to bypass these blocks and ensure they can’t access the services. Hulu and Netflix have been particularly aggressive in doing this and even some of the UK TV channels like the BBC blocking abroad as well.
In addition there are other measures being used to block connections originating from VPN servers too. The BBC have recently extended their restrictions to include too many concurrent connections from the same IP addresses. For example if you use a very popular VPN service, like Hide my ASS then you’ll be sharing your IP address with many thousands of users. These are easy to detect and simple to block, it doesn’t actually matter how well they are configured if too many people are using them a VPN will be blocked as easily as cheap private proxies. The threshold is difficult to assess and you don’t need to use completely dedicated proxies as long as they are not overloaded.
As you can tell, there are no guarantees on maintaining access to any particular service. Currently Netflix and Hulu are probably the most aggressive in blocking access from VPN enabled services but many still work. You should ensure that your chosen VPN provider is not advertising the ability to watch particular stations. These are always targeted by the media sites, even years ago a private proxy server which promoted access to online TV stations would never last long – nowadays their servers will be blocked very quickly indeed.
Otherwise it really depends on which websites are a priority for you. For example, as mentioned Netflix are one of the most aggressive companies in blocking access and even the best private proxies or VPN servers will be ineffective. This is because in addition to other restrictions they also limit access to IP addresses classified as residential. Unfortunately this instantly rules out 99% of VPN providers who usually are based in commercial data centers which have commercially classified IP ranges. Try and connect to the US version of Netflix from a commercial IP address and you’ll get blocked instantly. It doesn’t matter how well they are configured as even the high quality US proxy services won’t work if they’re tagged with commercial addresses. Some of the more advanced security companies like . have some residential IP address ranges but these are very difficult to obtain for use by commercial companies.
If you want to use a particular service then it’s best to test the functionality first before subscribing for a longer period. There are still VPN services which work with most of the media sites, however some are more difficult than others. Accessing the US version of Netflix is probably the hardest as they only allow a specific category of IP addresses through their firewalls.
The reality is that without having some sort of control of your connection and IP address you will be constantly blocked, filtered and monitored whenever you are online. For those of us who travel it’s even more inconvenient as websites we normally access are suddenly unavailable due to a new location. Being able to hide your address stops all this and hands back control.