When you think about the internet, the first thought that comes to your mind is probably that of a global network that connects the entire world. Unfortunately, many countries do not allow their citizens to access certain websites (China, North Korea, Iran). It is not a surprise then, that these countries are some of the biggest perpetrators of internet piracy. It happens because their citizens are not allowed to access content legally.
There are many ways to access geo-blocked content. If you are living outside the U.S, these tips might come in handy.
Hola offers an easy way to access blocked content on the internet. It is simple to install and best of all, it is free. Hola’s website claims that more than 44 million people worldwide use Hola to access blocked content, each month.
Hola is available as a browser extension for Chrome, FireFox and even Internet Explorer. Once you install it on your browser, Hola shows as a toolbar. After installing the add-on, select a country. Later, Hola will begin to route your internet activity through IP addresses located in that country. For example, the US Netflix Library cannot be accessed by users outside the U.S. You can install Hola and tinker with it such that it route your internet traffic through IP addresses in the U.S.
A note of caution though. Some people say that Hola is an invasive browser extension because it sends data to other servers. Hola works by making use of the idle bandwidth on your computer to help others which means you will be sharing your bandwidth.
If you want to use Hola, you will have allow this; there is no other way. Just make sure to disable Hola when you are not using the internet. If you are still worried, install Hola on another browser. If you use FireFox mostly to surf the internet, you can install Hola on Chrome and use Chrome only for Hola.
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is another option. A VPN uses an encrypted connection to route internet traffic. If you want to access a US based service like NetFlix, your VPN will tunnel you through a US based server (which has set aside bandwidth for you). But VPN is a premium service so if you want quality, you will have to pay for it. Some VPNs do offer free services but they are throttled or their bandwidth is limited.
There are many VPN services on the internet. Most VPN services do not have fancy apps or interfaces but some like TunnelBear do have an app. The app connects your system to your VPN. You can even switch your connection between countries through a dropdown menu. Note that this is not an advertisement for TunnelBear. Feel free to look around so that you find the best VPN service provider for your needs. If you are technically inclined, consider creating a VPN of your own (you can host it on a server) because it will save you some money.
Note that after you activate a VPN, it will take over all your routing so it is a good idea to turn it on only when you want to access content that you cannot reach in your country and disable it otherwise. Alternatively, if you can access an SSH server from the US (or any other country where you want to access content), you can go for Secure Shell tunneling.
You can access certain websites by changing your DNS server. You can find the DNS on your computer or on your home router (if you want to change the DNS for the full network). Once you have changed the DNS and logged on a geo-blocked website like Netflix.com, the DNS server will start tunneling your traffic. This fools the remote server into thinking that your IP is inside the appropriate country and it allows you to access the service.
The best thing about using a DNS hack is that it works for all devices on a network (if it is enabled). Moreover, you don’t have to turn it on or turn it off. It rumbles into life only when you access geo-blocked websites and does not affect your remaining traffic.
Tunlr is also a popular option (its free too). Sometime back, the service was shut down but it is up and running now. The problem is, after the shutdown many Tunlr clients shifted to other services, so its market share went down. There are other websites like Unblock-Us and UnoTelly’s UnoDNS which also provide a similar service but you will have to pay $5 per month to access them.
If you are a geek, setting up such systems won’t be difficult for you as long as you can connect to a server in the U.S or whichever country you want content from. It is a good idea to ensure that you are not on the wrong side of the law, with the content that you are accessing.