Have you ever watched Hulu – it’s wonderful, apparently it’s one of the most popular sites on the entire internet. However very soon after the site was released they restricted access based on location, you can’t even access Hulu in Canada!
Anyway at first it wasn’t too much of a problem using a proxy server you could change the IP address you connected to. So you just had to use an American one, a Hulu proxy if you like and you were allowed to access the service. But then Hulu got wise to this and was able to detect the use of them, so free proxies and methods like HotSpot Shield stopped working altogether. People are still using proxies for some media channels – for instance a German proxy server will still unlock most sites in Germany but in most instances VPNs are needed now.
Currently the only way to watch Hulu from outside the US is to use some sort of VPN (Virtual Private Network) which creates a tunnel from your client to a VPN enabled server.
There’s a few of these around commercially or if you work for a multinational company you may find you have access to a US based server that you can connect to.
Remember the idea is simple – your browser or computer is irrelevant, what’s important is that your connection and IP address needs to appear to be from the USA. Here’s the software I use – it’s called Identity Cloaker.
There’s a few hundred servers in all different countries but for Hulu we obviously need one based in the US. When I click on an American server it sets up a SSH connection to the US which all my internet activities will be tunneled down – more info here. This means that when I connect to Hulu it will see the IP address of the server (which is American) and allow me to access Hulu wherever I happen to be.
Works like a dream and comes recommended – test with the trial account first at Identity Cloaker. There are quite a few others that work well too – but remember you need more that just a proxy server for Hulu (although a proxy still works for BBC Iplayer from outside the UK). You’ll have a selection of different countries available, they concentrate on the US and major European countries though – if you want something a little less usual like a Japanese or Turkish proxy – check out the rest of this site for alternatives.
Further Reading – http://www.proxyusa.com/
For utmost security, simply connecting to a single proxy or VPN just isn’t enough. For a start it will be completely evident from your ISP logs that you’re using a proxy server and where it is located. Imagine instead of the logs containing lots of different locations and remote IP addresses, you’ll just have one in use all the time. Of course it’s better than using nothing at all particularly if the connection is encrypted, but it’s no where near as secure as using an elite proxy switcher program.
So what exactly is a proxy switcher and how does it work? Well the idea is to distribute your internet connection through a variety of servers all across the world. This minimizes the ‘proxy fingerprint’, meaning it’s not obvious from your logs that a proxy is being used. Also it’s much more difficult to track (in fact virtually impossible) if your connection is switching every few minutes. Here’s a quick introduction into using secure proxies, using my favorite security program Identity Cloaker.
As you can see, all proxies are not created equally in fact many you may stumble across online are inherently unsafe simply because they are so badly configured. However when the proxies are configured correctly, rotating your connection through multiple servers and hence switching your IP address every few minutes makes you connection extremely secure.
Here’s the settings for rotating in Identity Cloaker:
You have the the following options of proxy switching:
- Particular country – if you are searching or using a geo-restricted site, then you have the option of only switching between proxies in a specific country.
- Nearest Place – this is the best option if you’re concerned primarily about speed, servers will be selected based on their proximity to your current location.
- Any country – the most secure option, means that your connection can be routed through any of the servers distributed across the world.
All the above options add an extra layer of privacy, however using ‘any country’ option is probably the best for ultra security. It’s also worth considering the countries that the various proxies are located in, for instance german proxies would offer the protection of the strong EU and German privacy regulations.
Anyone who’s spent any time in Ireland and come to love some of the domestic TV channels there will be very impressed with the updated 3 Player application. 3 Player is the on demand video service which is provided by Ireland’s TV3 broadcaster. It provides access to the vast majority of programmes broadcast on both TV3 and 3E, both within the Republic of Ireland. There are a few limitations, many films and licensed shows from other broadcasters are not usually available but it is always worth checking.
The service is a few years old now, and was launched in October 2011, which replaced the original TV3 Catch up Service. I must admit I never had much luck with the TV3 Catch up player which always seemed to crash or stutter when watching any programmes irrespective of how fast my internet connection was.
3 Player is much better and well worth checking out, it is basically a catch up service which usually holds shows for 28 days after they’re broadcast. Don’t rely on this though as sometimes they can be slightly less than this, lots of shows from ITV the UK commercial broadcaster are only one for seven days for example. 3 Player is unusual though that it includes pretty much everything broadcast for free although there are quite lengthy commercials.
The main issue for anyone outside the Republic is that you’ll get blocked when you try and access anything because of your location. What you need to do is hide your real location by using an Irish proxy server like this video demonstrates –
This method simply bounces your connection through a server located in Ireland which hides your real IP address and allows you to watch the shows as if you has an Irish IP address. It does require a subscription to Identity Cloaker, although this does give access to lots more servers across the globe and it will allow you access to other Irish restricted services like RTE player.
It is worth mentioning that a simple web based Irish proxy won’t work with these services anymore as they are normally blocked. You’ll need to ensure the server is secure and ideally the connection encrypted otherwise your location will be detected especially if the proxy/vpn server is not configured correctly.
If there’s one thing I love about national broadcasters, it’s that normally they have little or no advertising on their sites. The joy of watching a one hour detective drama without four or five ad breaks is something that many of us miss when we travel abroad. It’s one reason why these companies are worth bookmarking when you come across them, particularly when so many shows are networked across all these different companies.
I first started using RTE player a few years ago after watching some news stories about the Dublin property boom. I wanted to try and dissuade a good friend for spending a huge amount of money on a tiny little house on the outskirts of Dublin. That’s a different story, however I noticed that RTE had lots of my favorite shows which I watched from my then location of Raleigh in North Carolina.
Unfortunately as is normal with most online media companies and broadcasters, the vast majority of their content is only accessible from their home country. In the US it means that we can access some of the biggest sites of course like Hulu, HBO and ABC etc but we do get blocked from some great sites like the BBC and RTE.
The restriction is based on your IP address, the network ID that is assigned to you when you connect to the internet. They are all grouped by physical location and your location can therefore be determined from this address. There are two versions of RTE Player – a domestic one and an international one, you can only access the domestic one from Ireland and the international version has very little stuff available on it. If you try and get to the domestic site of RTE player from outside Ireland you’ll get this message.
Basically saying you can’t access RTE Player unless you’re based somewhere in Ireland. All that’s happening is that when you visit the site it checks your IP address and where it’s located. Fortunately it’s fairly simple to fool this procedure and gain access to the full RTE site by simply hiding your real IP address and using one based in Ireland.
This can be done by routing through an intermediary server which is based in Ireland. You used to be able to use what’s called a proxy server but these are now detected and blocked, so you’ll need something a little bit more secure like a VPN service such as this Irish one here called Identity Cloaker – watch this video.
So using this service, when you visit the RTE player website – the only IP address visible is that of the Identity Cloaker one which as long as you select one of those based in Ireland (think they’re all in Dublin) will allow you access to the complete RTE player website and all the shows to download or stream.
Try it out, it’s very easy to use and you can also use it on smart TVs, phones, tablets and other devices too. It means you can access any site wherever you are, I also use it to watch Game of Thrones on HBO when I’m travelling with my work.
Do you need to access a Polish only TV site? Where I live in the UK there’s a large Polish community, which was established in the second world war. Consequently I have lots of Polish friends and acquaintances, who live nearby. Wherever you go you’ll see specialized satellite dishes on houses which people use to access TV stations in Poland. However most of these stations are also available online also. Unfortunately there is a problem, just like the majority of media sites – most stations are only accessible online when you’re in the same country. So if you try and access TVN Player, a popular Polish TV station over the internet you’ll get blocked.
Anyway it’s quite simple to circumvent this problem if you have the right tools! Here’s a video showing the process of bypassing TVN Player’s blocks by using a Polish proxy server.
As you can see it only takes seconds to switch your location using Identity Cloaker, which effectively frees up the internet from filters, blocks and restrictions. If you do use it, remember to turn on the encryption when using any unknown connection such as a hotel, airport or cafe wireless connection. It’s especially important when connecting to important sites like banking,paypal and webmail for example.
For me it happened when I was on a short holiday in the USA, and I started up my Netflix account and it was a revelation. Although I used my own UK based account, because of my location I was redirected to the US version of Netflix which is so much better. Thousands more films and TV shows, movies which had only just left UK cinemas and a whole host more where available, isn’t something I wanted to lose when I went back home.
If you investigate, it’s incredibly common and not just restricted to Netflix. The majority of the big media sites all have some sort of restrictions or blocks based on your location – in fact try and access Netflix from some countries and it’s not even available even if you have an account. BBC iPlayer only works in the UK, Pandora the online radio station will now not work outside the US, every TV channel is normally restricted to it’s country of origin.
But if you keep investigating , you’ll discover there is a way to take back control and watch whatever you want, irrespective of your location. The technology you need is called a VPN (Virtual Private Network), forget the other solutions that you see mentioned like Smart DNS and proxies. Although they work both are intermittent and easily blocked – setting up a VPN to the country of broadcast is what you need to do.
It works like a dream, install a VPN client on your PC or tablet and you can access whatever you need. I use a service called Identity Cloaker primarily because it’s fast and inexpensive, however there is a problem using all these services – How Can you Use a VPN on a Smart TV?
Or really any non-computer type device, for example I watch online stuff through my Smart TV, phone, Roku, Wii U and a load of other devices. However I simply can’t install any client VPN software on my TV even if it would let me, in fact many of these devices are increasingly restricting access to the network configuration screen to stop people bypassing these blocks. Well what you have to do is look one step away from these devices, in my case my router which connects all these devices to the internet – How to Set up a Smart TV VPN
So instead of messing around with lots of different versions, installing client software on numerous devices and tweaking settings – just set up the vPN on your router, access point or modem – basically the device that connects
you to the internet. This ensures that everything connected to this router uses the VPN by default and you can turn it on and off at will. Of course, it’s not perfect and it does mean that if my US VPN is turned on – another device cannot watch the BBC iPlayer at the same time (the BBC will see the US IP address of the VPN server and block it). However you can switch these on and off very easily when you need to.
Not all VPN providers allow this manual access though, so it’s worth checking before hand – Identity Cloaker does on all it’s servers and I would imagine most of the ‘reputable’ VPN services do too.
It’s of course a recurring them on the internet, many people are concerned with security, privacy and internet filtering so spend a lot of time searching for solutions. However inexplicably people seem to think they can find these for free. Just think about it – you need the following:
- A high powered server connected to the internet.
- Support people to keep it both secure and online.
- Someone to pay all the bandwidth costs (a lot!) of the server
- Allow everyone to use it for nothing.
Why would anyone would do this? Why would they pay huge amounts of money, spend their own time – simply for thousands of strangers to bypass internet blocks, surf porn at school or simply mess around on Facebook at work. Of course there is no logical reason that they would, and in fact even the free proxy servers are not in fact free? Just watch this video for a quick intro.
The price you pay for using free proxies or VPNs is one of the following:
- Some form of adware or advertisements injected into your browsing.
- Risk of Nastier stuff like spyware or trojans or the proxy itself stealing your personal information.
People don’t like to believe it, because obviously they want to use something for free. Ultimately it’s for every one to decide for themselves, but you should certainly be very careful using any free resources which take control of all the information you transmit online (which is what a proxy does).
For anyone with an interest in UK Television, be it ex-pats, Anglophiles or just lovers of great TV programmes – Christmas can bring some great online treats. The BBC iPlayer website for instance reruns loads of fantastic shows, documentaries, comedies and biographies over the festive season. There are also some wonderful shows broadcast for the first time which you can either pick up live or from the iPlayer site for a couple of weeks later.
I’m in the bracket of ex-pat abroad, although I do still live in the UK for most of the year. I have tried English language TV in many other countries and to be honest I haven’t found anything quite as good as the BBC. There’s some wonderful stuff on US TV, Canadian and Australian TV of course but usually accompanied with adverts every few minutes – incredibly annoying unless you’ve been brought up with this. For me I’ve been brought up with mainly non-commercial TV, namely the BBC and my favorite programmes are still there. For me, I’ve never seen a better sports show than Match of the Day, a better nature documentary than those by David Attenborough and of course the best Science Fiction drama ever made – Dr Who.
Which kind of brings me to the purpose of my post – how do you – watch Dr Who Christmas Special abroad? Or perhaps you’re stuck somewhere where the TV sucks or you can’t understand the language. Then having access to unlimited BBC can be a real boon, especially if you’re away from home and a little homesick. But of course, the BBC online content is not actually accessible if you’re outside the UK – the web site checks your location and if it’s not the UK then you get blocked.
But as you may have discovered there are solutions and one of the most popular are proxies. The secret is not changing your IP address like many would imagine, but hiding it from those who seek to restrict your access. A proxy is basically a server that sits between you and the site you want to visit, so the location of that computer actually affects what you can see. A UK proxy can allow you access to all UK media sites, a USA proxy will unlock the US sites like Hulu, Pandora and HBO for instance. Check this video out for an example –
As you can see it’s very simple, and although the example is on a computer there’s similar techniques that work on tablets, smart phones and TVs and most media streamers.
Sometimes you don’t care what IP address you have as long as it’s different, a quick IP address changer is all you need. Many people who run websites and online businesses need to check things like rankings online using various tools. Unfortunately these tools usually need to make multiple requests to the search engines in order to work. There are some very professional research tools like Market Samurai, which have their own built in proxy servers which allow the tool to switch between different IP addresses when making these queries.
However these are invariably the exception rather than the rule, and mostly you have to try and switch your addresses yourself. Most people then usually plod down the proxies route either free ones scraped using a simple tool, or a subscription that gives you a few proxies to use privately. The free ones are more trouble than they’re worth. You can scrape a list of a few hundred supposedly working, fast proxies then ten minutes later 20% of them stop working, another 20% slow to a crawl, a few hours later and you’ve got to start all over again. Believe me life is too short to spend it searching for these, using them provides little benefit and it you think they genuinely keep you anonymous then you’re mistaken – read this blog – http://www.anonymous-proxies.org/
The private ones also can be hard work simply because you don’t have enough of them – invariably you need hundreds of proxies to run these programs like SEO checkers for any length of time. But buying hundreds of proxies can get very expensive and you’ll quickly burn these out with some of the SEO tools especially ones designed to be run 24/7.
So What you need is something that can quickly and simply rotate the IP addresses at your disposal. This means that you can still use fast proxies and you don’t need so many IP addresses to allow these programs to function. Here’s the feature in Identity Cloaker that allows you to do this –
This is extremely useful, it means that you can switch between IP address every minute you like which allows all these tools and queries to work perfectly. The change happens in the background and used on a windows server, a VPS or a desktop computer there will be no interruption. But of course the option you choose is dependent on your requirements – this video explains some others ;
The decision is also dependent on locations, which can usually affect the price and availability of any proxies. The US and the UK are probably the cheapest, where as places like South Africa and Australia tend to be more expensive simply because bandwidth costs are very much higher that mainland Europe. So we can see what is the best proxy program is not an easy question to answer, which is very much reliant on what you’re looking for.
My first realization of the extent of internet filtering, came in a hotel located on the edge of an industrial estate about 20 kms outside Stockholm. It was boring, I can’t remember the hotel chain but it was like a British Travel Lodge. Nice enough to sleep in, but absolutely nothing to do if you a) couldn’t speak Swedish b) didn’t know anyone. There were indeed some gorgeous looking Swedish women in the bar, unfortunately all of them appeared about 3 inches taller than me – so I slunk back to the hotel room with my laptop like any self respecting geek would do.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Sweden, it’s a great place, the people are friendly, everything is clean but it can be expensive. For a very mean, self expensed traveller that can be a bit tough, some of the internet charges would make your eyes water! However when you’re really bored, a bit fed up and lonely then internet access promises a lot of things – World of Warcraft, Online poker and of course UK Television at least I thought it did. It was a Saturday night and I thought Doctor Who, followed by Match of the Day – cheered me up no end.
Unfortunately that was until I tried to access any of these sites, only WoW worked and it kept dumping me on a Swedish server. My main focus was British TV of course, and that was when I discovered that even a fee paying, UK citizen is denied access to the Beeb if he’s sitting in a box hotel in Stockholm. In fact this is true any where outside the UK, you just get blocked with a little apology.
It’s true I didn’t take this well, but fortunately I have many friends who are cleverer than me and who travelled more. Ten minutes late I was redirected to this video which showed me how to reassert my nationality. The video is still on Youtube and you can find it here – or watch now.
That’s all there is to it, at least on a PC to access on a iPad or similar you need to do some other stuff but again it’s not hard. Here’s a video I found later that shows the steps you need for that using the same service.
Further Information on this technique can be found at the following –
When you connect to the internet, using anything from a smart TV to a Laptop – you will be assigned an IP address. This is your unique identifier online, this address in the format – 192.168.1.1 is directly linked to your device.
For most of us at home, this address is assigned by the ISP we connect with and as such there is no way of changing it. This address is recorded by most web sites you visit for a variety of reasons and is in effect your digital ID. Much worst for those concerned with online privacy, at your ISP every single thing you do online is recorded in logs along with this address. Which means that for all of us there is a complete record of every website we visit, every movie we watch, video we download and email we send stored on servers hosted by whomever you pay your internet fee to.
However although it is impossible for most of us to actually change our IP address, at least the public facing one we use online. It is possible to hide our IP address and gain some elements of privacy online by the following methods:
- Hide your real IP address from web sites you visit
- Encrypt Your connection to ensure your online activity is kept private.
These two steps are essential and are detailed in the following video entitled IP Anonymizer which you can watch here or directly on YouTube.
Your real IP address is effectively hidden via the network of proxy servers distributed across the world, all the web sites record this address and not yours which is not visible to them.
The encryption is required to prevent interception of data, and also ensures that although logs will still exist at your ISP – they will not be readable. The encryption will ensure that the only information that will be visible in the logs is the connections made to the proxies – nothing else will be legible.