VPN, or how three letters can be used to access region-restricted content.
People often look with envy at the streaming offerings in the USA, such as Netflix or Hulu. Nearly all of them are region-restricted, preventing users from foreign countries from accessing those services. Those restrictions work most of the time on an IP address level, and block users that don’t appear to be residents of the USA.
So the big question is: if you’re living out of the USA and want to use those services, how can you change your IP address to a new one? How can you make those providers believe that you are in the USA?
The answer can be contained in three letters: VPN.
A VPN (Virtual Private Network), to sum up shortly, is a private bridge allowing anonymity and security between a user and, in our case, Internet. There are various VPN providers on the web, both free and with a monthly fee, offering a lot of options and possibilities.
The concept, in order to watch Hulu for example, is to build a « bridge » between the user and the VPN provider, which will then access the Internet content.
The interesting point is that it’s the VPN provider who accesses the content, so the IP address seen by the Internet is the VPN provider’s.
All of those VPN services have at least one IP address located in the USA, allowing them to access region-restricted content and then transfer it to the user, without any restriction.
Now that the concept is demystified, how can you put all this at work?
The first step is to find and subscribe to a VPN provider.
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Once you have chosen your provider and subscribed to their services, you will have to configure the device on which you want to use USA-locked content.
A critical point when choosing a provider is that not all of them are usable on all devices.
Some of them allow you to use a Windows computer only; others work on MacOS computers, others on tablets or phones.
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Most of the time, using a VPN on a computer is done through a dedicated software generally offered by the provider.
When in need of a VPN, you have to connect to the provider using the software and then access the restricted content.
For tablets and such, it’s a bit more complicated since they have to be compatible with the VPN protocols directly.
There are several VPN protocols, each with its perks and problems, so be sure that your device can use at least one of the protocols offered by the provider of your choice before subscribing.
If everything has been done correctly, you’ll be able to access the previously locked content without being seen as a user not residing in the USA, and enjoy a lot of new content.
That’s the magic of those three letters.