Virtual Private Network (VPN) has long been one of the most popular tools for accessing geo-restricted content. However, this tool is not the only solution on the market. Some users overpay just because they’re not aware of other options.
You can bypass geo-blocking and access content that’s unavailable from your geographical location quickly and conveniently without using a VPN. But before we introduce the options, let’s review what geo-blocking is, why various media services use it and discuss whether it’s legal to bypass geo-restrictions.
What is Geo-Blocking?
Geo-blocking is a practice of blocking certain online content based on the user’s geographical location. The location is determined by identifying the user’s IP address, which is assigned to every internet-connected device by the Internet Service Provider (ISP).
An IP address can pin the user’s location rather accurately, sometimes up to the street level. The way to bypass geo-blocking is by shielding the original IP address, and that’s exactly what a VPN does. However, using a VPN is not the only way to hide an IP address.
Why is Geo-Blocking Used?
The main geo-blocking reasons are internet censorship and licensing agreements. Online broadcasting and streaming companies often have copyright agreements for their content that differ from country to country.
For example, a popular online streaming service like Netflix may have the copyright to stream a certain film in the US, but it would require a separate agreement to broadcast the same movie in the UK. In some countries, the same film may not even have the legal rights to be streamed due to various censorship requirements.
Is Bypassing Geo-Blocking Illegal?
Various countries have different laws when it comes to geo-restricted content. In general, it’s not illegal to bypass geo-blocking, but it may go against the terms and conditions of a service you’re using.
However, if you’re bypassing geo-restrictions to access illegal content, then it may be considered a crime.
How to Access Geo-Restricted Content without a VPN?
A VPN is certainly not the only way to access geo-restricted content. Here are other effective ways that can help access internet content and services from various locations without leaving your home:
Use Proxy Servers
Proxies work as intermediaries between the internet user and their target website. They shield the original IP address of the internet user and allow connecting to a website anonymously.
Residential proxies can come from any location in the world. If your proxy service provider has a large proxy pool, they can offer residential IPs even from the most remote corners. Meanwhile, datacenter proxies come from data centers, which can also be located around the world, but they cover far fewer locations than residential proxies.
Proxy servers have many use cases, and shielding an IP address is just one of them. They can also act as a firewall and add a layer of security by filtering content.
However, free proxies that come from a questionable source may bring more harm than good. They’re shared between many users at the same time and can be blocked on certain popular targets. Hence, it’s important to choose a reliable proxy service provider that offers high quality proxies.
Install the Tor Browser
Tor is a popular internet browser that was created to allow people to browse the internet privately, without any tracking, surveillance, or censorship. The browser is free to download and works on all the main Operating Systems (OS), such as Windows, Mac, Linux, or Android.
The Tor browser protects users by blocking the most famous plugins that can be manipulated into revealing the user’s IP address. The Tor Project was created to ensure people have free and secure access to the open web.
Bypassing geo-blocking is one of the Tor browser’s features. It redirects user traffic through three servers, which also adds a robust layer of security against cybercriminals accessing sensitive data.
However, the Tor browser can significantly slow down the internet connection. This can lead to slow loading and video buffering, so if you’re looking for a fast loading speed, keep in mind that Tor may not be able to offer that.
If you’re looking to hide your IP address and don’t want any extra security features, SmartDNS may be the best solution for you.
SmartDNS diverts all your DNS queries through a remote server. Contrary to other tools, this one doesn’t encrypt traffic or change your IP address. Instead, SmartDNS shields your DNS, so the target doesn’t receive any information about your geographical location.
Using a SmartDNS has a few advantages. It doesn’t trigger any automatic protection systems, which could be activated by accessing sites from a different IP address than usual. It also keeps your access to sites that are restricted to your real IP address.
Another advantage is that SmartDNS doesn’t slow down your internet connection, so you can access and consume content that requires fast loading.
If you choose SmartDNS, make sure to research providers before purchasing their services. Some VPN services offer SmartDNS as an additional feature, but keep in mind that SmartDNS and a VPN cannot be used simultaneously.
Geo-blocking is a common issue that internet users run into. Various media streaming services and broadcasters have to restrict their content based on geographical locations due to copyright and licensing agreements, as well as censorship.
While many users buy a VPN service to access geographically restricted content, that’s not the only solution. Proxy servers can also help bypass geo-blocking and access content available in any location. In addition to that, proxies can also enhance the security and privacy of their users.
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The Tor browser is another solution that can help. It was created to ensure people can browse the internet securely and without being tracked. However, this browser is slow, which may be an issue when trying to load various geo-restricted sites or download their content.
SmartDNS is a solution that solely covers the issue of geo-restrictions. It doesn't add any extra benefits for its users, such as improved security or anonymity. For that job, proxies are the best choice.