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Many of the internet’s biggest media sites operate a system of region locking. The BBC iPlayer for example blocks access to anyone outside the UK, similarly the US website Hulu blocks access to anyone located outside the USA. Virtually all the media web sites do this, including video sites like Youtube which controls what videos can be seen depending on your location. Fortunately there is a way around this, and millions of people across the world use VPNs to hide their physical locations.
These work by obscuring your real IP address by redirecting your connection through the VPN server. If the VPN is located in the correct country then you’ll be allowed access, so people would use a UK VPN to watch the BBC online and a US server to watch American content. Most of the web sites try to block access from these VPN servers however none have been very successful, except for one company – Netflix.
Here’s How Netflix Block VPN Programs
Most of the previous methods for blocking VPNs and proxies simply involve detecting and blacklisting the IP addresses of individual VPN servers. This works to some extent but is relatively simple for the VPN providers to bypass. When specific IP addresses are blocked they would simply replace them with alternatives, it ends up something of a cat and mouse game with the web providers. Many companies such as the BBC do this periodically so the blocks are normally fairly intermittent.
Mostly though people were unaffected, most of the decent VPN services have many servers which they rotated IP addresses when unaffected. Netflix however adopted another tactic, which proved to be more effective. What they did was instead of blocking individual IP addresses of VPN servers, they blocked a whole classification – commercial based addresses.
All IP addresses are classified into two types – residential and commercial. Residential IP addresses are allocated to domestic customers via their ISPs well companies and data centres receive commercial addresses instead. Netflix solution worked instantly by blocking access to all commercial addresses, the region locking was enforced and none of the VPN services worked.
Currently there are only a couple of VPN services which still work, these have managed to incorporate residential addresses into their network. One of the oldest companies, Identity Cloaker has built this capability into it’s software so that if anyone tries to connect to Netflix they will automatically be redirected to a server assigned with a residential IP address range. It works perfectly although these addresses are expensive and difficult to obtain so you should check if you require them as most VPN services won’t have access to them.