Netflix is one of the most widely used online streaming services in the world, with over 10 million viewers now tuning in. Tens of thousands of titles are available, including many successful Netflix original titles, such as Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards.
As entertainment enthusiasts continue to look for more affordable ways to watch TV, streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu are becoming ever more popular and, in many cases, are replacing conventional cable services entirely.
It’s a more affordable option, and it allows users to customize their entertainment by supplementing Netflix with additional streaming services such as HBO Go and other online channels.
Where is Netflix Available?
Netflix started out in the US, but has since branched out to include Canada, South America, Australia and Europe. Of course, in every country, the content available to you is a little different, so even if you have an account in America, if you travel to the UK, you won’t have access to American content.
As for the rest of the world, it’s unlikely that Netflix will be available anytime soon there. The Middle East and Asia both have pretty extensive censorship programs that tend to limit the availability of this kind of content, and there are still no plans for the company to start service in South Africa.
This means that even if you have a service plan with Netflix, if you travel outside of their available areas, you won’t have access to any of their content.
Why Can’t I Watch Netflix Overseas?
This type of content restriction is known as a geo-restriction, and basically it means that within the boundaries of those countries, you won’t able to access certain content. It’s frustrating to say the least. You could be paying for Netflix, and totally unable to use it if you have to travel overseas.
The way this works is by using your location information to control your access to web content. When you try to access a website, the server gets your IP address. This is the unique code associated with your device, and it tells web servers your rough geographic location.
Using that information, servers can determine what language to display pages in, what relevant advertising to show you and what content you have access to. So if you’re in China, even if you have a Netflix account in America, you won’t be able to access it, because your IP address will tell their servers you’re in China.
How to Unblock Netflix
The key to watching Netflix in places where it’s blocked is hiding your real IP address, and hopping on an alternative network. There are a couple of different ways you can unblock Netflix:
- Use a proxy server –
This is one way to route your web traffic through an alternate server and access-blocked content. However, it’s not the simplest process. How you do it will depend on your operating system and the browser you’re using, but be prepared to get into your advanced internet settings.
- Use a VPN –
This is by far the easiest way to unblock Netflix. It’s almost completely automatic, and you don’t have to mess with any of your device’s connection settings to do it.
What is a VPN?
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a service you can sign up for to get access to blocked content. It’s perfectly legal, and is also a great way to protect your internet privacy form government surveillance and hackers.
To get started, just do some shopping around for a service plan that you like. Ideally (since you’re going to be using it for streaming), you’ll want one that offers a fast connection, unlimited bandwidth and has a network large enough to handle their customer base (typically at least 50 server locations is ideal).
Once you sign up, download the software or apps to your devices and choose a server location. In most cases, configuration is completely automatic. Just choose a server in a location with access to the content you want and connect.
From there, your traffic will be fully encrypted, and your real IP address is hidden. Instead, it looks to websites as though you’re actually accessing from the server location you’ve selected. You’ll be able to see any content you would be able to if you were actually in that country.
So basically, if you’re in say, Qatar, but you want to watch the American version of Netflix, just choose a server located anywhere in America, connect, and then sign in to your Netflix, and you’ll be in business.
Sign Up Before You Go
As is to be expected, in many countries, these filter circumvention tools (i.e. VPNs) are also blocked, so if you want to be able to use one, it’s critical that you sign up and download the software before you go.
Once you’re overseas though, as long as your software is already installed, you’ll be able to use the VPN to bypass the local geo-restrictions and stream Netflix.
VPNs are easy to use, always effective, and hands down the absolute best way to unblock Netflix, even if it’s just on the WiFi at work.
Is there are a show you just can’t live without? Make sure to install a VPN before you travel, so you never have to.