We’re all well aware of the importance of using a VPN anytime we use the internet. It protects us from identity theft and government surveillance, and allows us to torrent without fear of consequences. It also allows people in countries with totalitarian governments to read and watch content that their leadership censors.
But many of us are looking to get a VPN for another reason. A more attractive reason, perhaps. Since a VPN routes our connection through external servers, it gives us the possibility to stream geo-restricted content.
This is particularly useful to those who live outside the US or UK, and whose Netflix, Amazon, and other streaming services have very limited options. But it’s also useful for finding content that is licensed to other networks at home, but not abroad. Also, it gives us access to our favourite shows even while we’re traveling.
For example, Brits abroad will need a BBC iPlayer VPN to watch BBC while overseas, even though they’re registered in the UK.
So, how do you find the right VPN for your streaming needs? Take the following steps.
Choose According to the Streaming Service(s) You Use
Many streaming services have actively worked to ban the use of VPNs. Therefore, if you’re using a VPN, they won’t let you watch, even if you’re actually in the same country. A range of VPNs have been able to bypass this ban.
However, not all VPNs that bypass Netflix’s ban bypass Amazon’s ban, and so on. When you are researching which VPN to use, make sure it works with every streaming service you use.
It’s not helpful, however, if the VPN doesn’t have servers in the country where the content is not restricted. If you’re trying to use BBC iPlayer, for example, the VPN you choose needs to have servers in the UK.
But don’t limit your search for servers to the most obvious ones. Streaming services around the world show different series and movies at different times. For example, FX’s Legion is on Netflix in Japan, while shows like Lucifer (coming to Netflix anyway) and Black Lightning have been broadcast on Netflix in Hong Kong on the same date they were aired on their native networks.
A great resource is uNoGS – or the unofficial Netflix global search. If you search there for a series or movie, it will tell you if it’s on Netflix in one of 23 countries. Give it a try, then select a server in that location.
Therefore, it’s worthwhile if a VPN has servers all over the world, even if you only technically need it to work in one location.
Finally, it’s important to mention speed. A VPN inevitably slows down your connection, which affects streaming. This can be a problem if your connection is barely fast enough in the first place. Not all VPNs slow you down significantly, and with some you’ll barely notice the effect.
Make sure you find which VPNs are fastest. Of course, the further away the server is, the slower the connection will be.