Smart DNS Blocked by Netflix on Devices

If you sit down and look at many media devices, you’ll see the influence that the major broadcasters and media companies have on this sector.   For example companies like Netflix will actively support and promote some devices like the Roku, Chromecast and the Nvidia Shield.  Whereas others are merely tolerated such as the hundreds of Android media boxes which are available for a much cheaper price.

Why should this matter?  Well one of the most important is things like supporting high definition streaming.  Most devices are capable but without the Netflix approval and their approved logo,  true Ultra definition streaming won’t happen on that device.  You think that will be ok, but just switch from ultra HD to standard definition and you’ll soon be looking for that approved logo.

There is another problem too, all these devices are ‘approved’ on the basis of certain conditions.   One of those is that they are much more difficult to bypass region locks and restrictions.  For example one of the simplest methods to switch your version of Netflix is by using Smart DNS.  This can hide your true location and allow you to watch the US or UK versions of Netflix if you want.  However to enable this solution you need to access your DNS settings in the devices configuration.

Funnily enough, changing the any device officially supported by Netflix is usually much more difficult. Try and modify the DNS settings on a Roku and you’ll find no access, Chromecast hard codes the DNS server too. Basically any media device that works well with Netflix is much more difficult to bypass region locks with.   Many people suspect that Smart DNS will soon be extensively blocked to and a VPN will be your only option to watch British TV online in Spain for example.

Of course you can still bypass these restrictions even on the ‘official devices, but it is more difficult.  Using a Roku for example you either have to assign your Smart DNS settings using DHCP or route through a client based VPN connection to  hide your location.  For these media locked devices, obviously the online IP changers like these are of little use.

Netflix know that people will still use these methods to bypass their region locks but it does make it more difficult.  The tactic is to simply limit the number of people using these methods by making it more difficult on the best supported devices.

Is this fair?   Well possibly not but the reality is that it’s unlikely to change in the near future.  Netflix and the other big media companies will use their power to enforce the restrictions simply because they can.  If you want to stream in 4k hd then expect to either accept the blocks these companies enforce or do a little reading and figure out how to bypass them using other methods.

For example on the NVidia Shield it may be awkward to modify the network configuration but you can install applications.  Try the OpenVPN application and connect through to a commercial VPN and you’ll instantly have the ability to bypass these blocks.

Further reading

Free or Paid the VPN Dilemma

We all like free stuff, life can get pretty expensive and the internet usually offers a way to trim a few pennies or cut a few corners. Unfortunately in some cases this can backfire badly and taking the free option with regards to online VPNs is one of those situations.

Firstly when looking for free options for protecting your internet connection and/or bypassing the region blocks that are becoming pervasive online – forget about proxies. THey’re time is pretty much gone in these areas, they were never very secure – apart from a few very expensive ones. Secondly they no longer work for bypassing region locks, almost all media sites now detect and block them with ease. Sure you can still find plenty of free proxies online but there’s no point using them, at best they won’t work and worst you’ll be funnelling all you data through a server controlled by a bunch of identity thieves.

You can’t even watch the BBC now online with a proxy, you’ll need a UK VPN like this to watch the BBC. Seriously stay away from free proxies it’s all risk with no benefit. Which comes to the crux of the matter, with regards using paid or free VPN services – sure there’s always free stuff available online but what’s in it for the owner?

Remember a VPN service is not like a pirated game or a ripped DVD posted online anonymously. It costs money to run a VPN server – bandwidth costs, hardware, support staff and of legal/administrative costs of running these services. If you don’t charge for these then you’re effectively paying thousands to run it for free, and why would anyone do this? Clearly no one does, if you use a free service they have to make money out of you someway. Here is a quick summary of the advantages of a decent VPN service-

The solution is that you become the product not the VPN service. In order to pay all the costs, you will either be subject to lots of advertising injected into your browsing and internet use (simple to do). Or your internet connection itself will be used, hidden in the terms of conditions of ‘free VPNs’ like Hola is an agreement to let them resell your internet connection whilst you are connected. So while you browse through their service watch Netflix, unknown people will be using their paid service to browse anonymously using your connection and IP address.

Scared? Well you should be imagine inviting a bunch of strangers in to use your internet connection completely anonymously – can you imagine the weirdos you’d get!! Remember anything downloaded would be logged to your IP address. If you’re going to use a free VPN I’d seriously suggest the hassle of advertising and spam inserted into your computer to be a more sensible option than letting a bunch of strangers download porn through your internet connection. Be safe, be sensible and try this solution – UK VPN free trial, at least you see what you’re going to get.

The Death of Proxies

I think 2017 has seen the end of the usefulness of proxy servers at least as far as bypassing region locks goes. Of course, proxies are still incredibly useful and most organisations use them to help protect their internal networks and to speed up internet access through their caching. The problem has always been that it’s too easy to detect proxies, and that has limited their usefulness in bypassing blocks. Most of the big media sites have been blocking them for many years, in fact the BBC was the last major broadcaster that didn’t. That changed last year when the BBC started to block not only proxies but also many VPN services too.

It’s not certain why the BBC suddenly started blocking these servers all of a sudden, previously they had been very laid back about their use. Perhaps the fact that literally millions access the BBC site from outside the UK or maybe the need to start maximising the revenue of their shows was to blame, we really don’t know. The reality is that you now need a high quality VPN to access BBC News streaming or the joys of BBC iPlayer and live TV from outside the UK.

People still attempt to find proxies to work with these media sites, but they’re genuinely wasting their time.  It is unlikely that they will become useful for these methods anytime soon.  It’s surprising that even VPNs are becoming marginalised too – the connections are still difficult to detect but media sites are targeting the IP addresses and blacklisting them.  It’s likely that many will start to follow the example of Netflix and block thousands of services by restricting access to residential IP addresses only, this video about the Best VPN for Netflix highlights this issue.

If this happens it will involve a huge shake up in the VPN providers sector. This is because it is relatively simple to set up a decent commercial based VPN service but much more difficult to include residential IP addresses in your infrastructure. This is because the address which are classified as residential are normally only released to home users through their ISPs. Obtaining these addresses for commercial uses are difficult and extremely expensive compared to the commercial addresses.

The hope is that this technological war, leaves a smaller number of VPN services which are better run. There’s no doubt that the majority of these services are both slow, insecure and offer very poor support. This is because most of them are set up simply as a quick method of watching online TV and bypassing region blocks, which means that people

Get your Brexit News from the BBC

The BBC is highly regarded as one of the most prestigious news agencies in the world.  So if you want to see decent coverage of the ongoing chaos that forms UK politics at the moment, then it’s a very good place to start.  There has been some criticism that the BBC has been showing some pro-European bias with regards to Brexit although that does seem slightly unfair.  For example a recent pro-Euro rally held in the streets of London with over 100,000 people didn’t even get a mention on any of the daily news shows.

Unfortunately though, the BBC and it’s news broadcasts are actually only accessible to people who are UK based.  This is because the website checks your physical location from your IP address as you connect to the site.  The following video explains what happens and what you can do.

As you can see, as soon as you change your address to a UK registered one then the whole BBC site becomes accessible through this BBC VPN. It’s fantastic for those of us who travel a lot and for anyone the BBC represents some of the best TV broadcasting in the world. When you’ve finished watching the BBC (or any other UK TV station), you simply disconnect and your internet connection will revert to normal.

Incidentally it’s worth checking out the other countries servers too, try using Netflix when connected to a US based server. You’ll get redirected to the US version of Netflix which is way better than the german or UK versions with thousands more films and movies.

Why Doesn’t the BBC Iplayer Work in France

The digital economy is transforming the way we do business and in fact how we live.   All across the world people are using digital tools and technologies in all aspects of their lives.  The digital market is one of the fastest expanding sectors in any economy and it is at the heart of the EU’s plan for the single market.

The European Union had a plan for the digital economy which mirrored it’s goal for trade between the member states.  Despite being based around the internet there are still many barriers and restrictions for both people and businesses.  The goal is to create a digital single market where restrictions and regulations are removed to encourage the development of the digital economy.

One of the goals is to improve access to digital goods and services.   The problem is that  this is not a seamless market, digital goods can be bought in one country and simply not accessible in another.  Take for example the situation with media and online subscriptions, your Netflix subscription will vary in content depending on which physical location you happen to be.

Another relevant example is that of the BBC, all license fee payers are supposed to be able to access the online service run by the BBC.  However if you read this article – How Do I Get the BBC iPlayer in France you’ll discover that in fact it is not accessible over the internet when you connect in France.  It’s the same in any other European country, and perhaps best illustrates the problem.  The fact that a digital product is only available depending on which country you’re in makes something of a mockery of the concept of a free market and movement.

The irony is that access to digital goods and services should be the least  restrictive yet in facts it’s entirely the opposite.  These restrictive rules and practices will only harm the development of the digital economy in the long run and they need rules and regulations which match the technology.

The hope is that there will be a new portability introduced into the single market.  So you’ll be able to subscribe to a French subscription service and be able to access that content anywhere in Europe.  At the moment it’s likely you’d have to pay for the initial  subscription and then pay extra to access from another location or to use a change IP address service to get a French IP address when you were travelling.



UK Proxy Sites

Many people discover when  they go on holiday or start travelling that the internet changes depending on where you happen to be.  Of course some of it is expected, fire up Google using an access point in a  Spanish cafe and you’ll not be surprised to find the Spanish version.  What happens is that Google looks up your location and redirects you to the most appropriate version of the search engine interface – in this case

This makes sense and is actually quite useful but unfortunately the same technology is used in other ways.   It called geotargetting and basically when you visit a web site it takes your IP address and looks up what location it’s registered to, this is then used to either tailor, block or filter what you can see on that site.      This is where the problem lies when a US citizen tries to access a US only site from a foreign country they’ll get blocked.   Someone from the UK on holiday who logs on to the BBC iPlayer site expecting to watch the news online will also get blocked.

The list is endless, more and more sites are operating in this way meaning what you access from your home country will vary widely when you travel.   However there is a way of bypassing these filters and accessing any site, you can watch the BBC from Greece using a UK proxy site to hide  your location.

Here’s a simple explanation of how it’s done:

However we should clarify something, in the video above the program was not actually connecting to a UK proxy online, the server actually was something called a VPN server. It works in a similar way to a proxy but is much more difficult to detect. As of this year, most of the biggest media sites block access is you attempt to use a proxy server in order to bypass their blocks. VPN (virtual private network) servers are much more difficult to detect and block than proxies.

It’s probably too early to guess where this battle is going to head. Many of us hope that these companies block this practice of segregating web users by their location, although as it helps maximize profits this may never happen.

Using an Internet Protocol Proxy – US IP Proxies

Well that’s sounds a mouthful but using something to hide and route your IP address is one of the most useful tools you’ll find online.  An IP proxy is simply a server which routes all your internet requests and forwards them on, it’s a little like using a separate mailing address – everything works the same but nobody finds out your real address.  The server just receives your request for a web page and forwards it, then when the reply is received that’s passed on to you.  No information is changed or modified, yet your privacy is maintained.

There are numerous advantages to this, but certainly privacy is one of the important one.  Most websites now record and analyse all their visitors, plus your web traffic is also logged at your ISP.  How many logs and who can access them is usually reliant on the location of your ISP and the target server, but let’s face it the US and American Intelligence agencies don’t really bother with things like that.  As long as you trust the owner of the IP proxy then it adds a significant layer of privacy to your connection.

Here’s a quick video which demonstrates a US IP proxy in action:

You can see that there is another important function available to routing your address through another server, basically the ability to access content which is normally blocked. For instance in our example the user is based in the UK, and so everything he does online is based on that location. This is fine for accessing UK based resources but when trying to access US web sites it becomes a bit more problematic. So you’ll see one minute you can happily be watching Test Match Special or Dr Who on the BBC iPlayer, but try and switch to catch an episode of the Walking Dead on HBO and you’ll be blocked. Same goes for Pandora, Hulu, NBC and virtually any US media site worth watching.

So this is where routing your address through an IP proxy comes in handy. If you switch to one based in the USA you’ll effectively have a US IP address irrespective of where you happen to be physically located. Suddenly all the US based web sites, any American only videos become accessible – you’ve effectively changed your internet nationality with a click of a button. Of course, it’s fairly ridiculous that this is even necessary using a global medium like the internet, but sadly it’s becoming more and more segregated as the big multi-nationals try and split up their markets to maximise profits.

On a final note, there are many different technologies that support IP routing however almost all of these now are detectable (and blocked) by the big websites.  Make sure whatever service you choose is a VPN that encrypts your initial connection.  These cannot currently be detected as long as they’re configured correctly although the biggest media companies like Netflix actively block these service manually.

Choosing the Best VPN for Netflix

It seems that the days of proxies are numbered at least as far as bypassing geo-blocks from the big media sites are concerned. Slowly but surely they have introduced proxy detecting technology which blocks the use of straight forward proxies from accessing their sites. This is of course, very annoying for owners of blogs called and for the many people who access these sites from a corporate or educational network which normally use proxies to reduce load on their networks (proxies are great for caching).

Try and access a site like Hulu, Netflix or even the BBC iPlayer using a proxy to hide your real location and you’ll be found out. However fear not, there is hope in a very familiar format the VPN (Virtual Private Network) service of which you’ll find many. These are more advanced versions of the simple proxy server which both encrypt and hide your location much more securely, more importantly the big media sites are unable to determine whether a VPN is being used.

What About VPN BLocks?

SO if they can’t detect a VPN in use, why is there so much chatter about sites like Netflix and BBC declaring war on VPNs and blocking them from accessing? Well the simple fact is that although Netflix and others can’t actually detect a specific VPN connection being used, they can create blacklists of suspected VPN IP addresses. It’s not that hard to do, look for some simple patterns and multiple connections (sometimes many thousands) occurring from a single IP address and you’ve likely got a proxy or VPN server.

On the other side of the battle, the VPN providers simply need to swap out their IP addresses to new ones that aren’t blacklisted. This is the situation we are in now, with VPN services being blocked then working again as the addresses are switched.   Much depends on how many resources are put into detecting and blocking VPN addresses, at the moment Netflix are being extremely aggressive with many large providers being blocked en mass.


So how do you go about finding the best VPN for Netflix, well for a start it’s best to look for a low key security service rather than a VPN service which advertises the TV watching potential openly.   These are the ones that legal departments will target, companies who openly promote the facility to watch things like Netflix and BBC iPlayer – they are the most likely to permanently put out of business.   What you need is those who market themselves as security providers, remember there’s nothing particularly different between a security VPN than one marketed as a TV watching service.  The fact is that the security companies will not be targets, although there IP addresses will still be registered when they connect.

The next bit of advice is to contact the company, are they committed to switching IP addresses out if they get blocked from services.  Alternatively just try a trial or short subscription first and see how it works out, if your access is being maintained under the current barrage they should be a safer bet for a longer subscription.  Feel free to add a comment on any service that is still working ok with Netflix.

Further Reading:

For Other Best Netflix VPN Options –

How to Access RTE and TV3 From Anywhere

When travelling abroad, you’ll often find people going to extraordinary lengths to catch up with news from their home. Years ago it involved buying three day old copies of crap newspapers at ten times their face value just to find out the football results. The internet has of course changed all this, meaning that you can find out this information anywhere which has a wireless or phone signal.

However the global information network of the web has not solved all these issues, although it has undoubtedly changed the way we can access information like this. The problem is not now that the information is not there, it’s just sometimes you get blocked from accessing it depending on your location.

Take for example my friend, who hales from the beautiful city of Cork in Southern Ireland – who works in several European countries in a shift rotation. He is a huge Gaelic football fan and will happily watch any match between any team whenever he gets the chance. Unfortunately this particular form of football is not widely followed outside Ireland and the only real coverage is available from the Irish broadcasters like RTE and TV3. No problem, you’d think as both these broadcast companies operate extensive web sites and rebroadcast most of their shows online. Except, the moment you leave the Republic of Ireland, then these shows mostly become inaccessible.

Again it’s our old friend, geo-targeting where web sites determine your location before deciding what you can see. Like most large broadcasters this means, that RTE and TV3 block most of their content outside Ireland – unless you use the very same technique most of us use to watch BBC iPlayer in Ireland .

So suddenly, location becomes immaterial again – simply fire up a proxy in the correct country and you can access whatever you like online. So my friend would simply start the subscription service he uses, connect to an Irish based server and then visit the RT3 site for instance.

Because the website would not see the real location, only that of the proxy server then nothing would be blocked at all. My friend could sit in a hotel room in Sweden and happily watch the latest Gaelic football thriller as if he was at home in County Cork.

US Media Needs Quick American Proxies

I’m forever being asked about free proxies or VPNs, because it’s the internet and you can find everything for free somewhere – right?  Well although that’s true that you can download pirated games and films, stream pirated copies of music and cracked versions of computer software.  However there’s a fundamental difference with proxies and VPN servers and such material – that is they cost money to supply and keep running.  Every single byte of data passing through these servers incurs a cost, plus if they are going to be safe and not siphon off your personal details or riddle your PC with viruses, they need ongoing support from technical staff.

It all costs money and without a subscription charge it’s simply doesn’t make sense.   So that free proxy server you found online is either hacked or being used to install malware or steal your login credentials.  Want to swap the use of a proxy for free access to your Paypal and email account ?  Well that’s effectively what you’re doing using these proxies and VPNs that you can find online for free.

There is another reason, not to use free servers apart from the security risk and that’s speed.  Even ignoring the privacy concerns anything available for free is going to run like it’s connected to an dial up 28.8k modem, if you remember these you ain’t going to want to relive the experience.   Without speed connecting your entire online experience through an intermediate server is going to be very, very painful and streaming video is just not going to work.  To access the wonderful world of American based media sites for example you’ll need a fast USA proxy to maintain sanity.

This video demonstrates how to access the AMC site which has some of my favorite shows – including the Walking Dead. This streams perfectly across private proxy services that had enough bandwidth and throughput without endless buffering. There’s nothing to stop you trying to find a fast, free proxy service of course, and you might argue that if you only stream videos and don’t access anything confidential you’ll be ok. The reality is that the risks will still exist but you won’t actually find a fast one anyway.