Choosing the Best VPN Location for Streaming Media
What is a VPN?
A VPN is a type of software that helps you protect your privacy by encrypting your traffic and routing it through an intermediary server.. It stands for Virtual Private Network although it’s full name is rarely used. A VPN can be considered a modern upgrade on a ‘proxy server’ which provided a similar service although with lesser security. The main difference is that a proxy connection is not encrypted and normally does not protect all your communication.
VPNs are normally enabled by client software which maintains the connection. This then helps you protect your privacy by encrypting your traffic and routing it through an intermediary server. When you use a VPN, all of the data that travels across the Internet is encrypted, so no one can intercept or track it. This makes it very difficult for people to spying on what you’re doing online, whether they’re governments or third-party companies.
VPNs are also useful for protecting yourself from malware and other malicious attacks. By connecting to a VPN server in another country, you can mask your location and keep yourself safe from hackers.
A VPN service is normally bought on a subscription basis although you can set up your own if you have the hardware and bandwidth available. There are a few which are free to use, however they normally
Using a VPN to Change Location
If you just want to see a quick demonstration, then just watch this video. It’s basically using a VPN to fool a UK based streaming site – (BBC iPlayer) that the connection is being made from the United Kingdom.
The VPN service used here is called
NordVPN – Latest discounts here.
What are the benefits of using a VPN?
Using a VPN can provide a number of benefits for users. These include the ability to protect your online privacy, keep your identity hidden, plus they can bypass censorship and geo-blocks
Privacy and Security
A VPN helps you protect your online privacy by encrypting all of your traffic and routing it through a remote server. This protects you from tracking and surveillance by third-party providers, governments, or hackers. It also prevents anyone from intercepting the contents of your communications. The sad truth is that a huge proportion of our internet communications are transported in clear text. Emails and web traffic are particularly easy to intercept and read from anyone who has access to the hardware. What’s more even if they don’t wireless traffic is relatively simple to intercept too with the right software.
Encrypting this traffic means that all your data is unreadable so even if intercepted then it’s protected. Most decent VPNs apply a high level of encryption which is virtually impossible to decipher.
Hiding Your Identity/Location
VPNs and some proxies can also help you keep your identity hidden by hiding your IP address (the unique identifier assigned to every device on the internet) and routing all of your traffic through an anonymous server. This makes it difficult for snoopers to track down who you are or where you’re located. It’s not just the bad guys that want this information – virtually every website you visit will look up your location. It’s used for all sorts of purposes – marketing, surveillance or profit maximisation. Many websites actually charge different prices depending on your physical location.
VPNs can also help bypass censorship restrictions in countries where access to certain websites is blocked (for example, China). By using a VPN, you can unblock content that is normally inaccessible.
Bypassing Geo-Blocks Based on Countries and Location
This sounds like an after thought but it’s really not. Geo-blocks or geo-targeting is the system of blocking, restricting or even modifying content based on your location. An airline might charge different fares depending on where you are trying to book from or most media sites restrict access based on your location. A government or state might decide that it doesn’t want you to
Indeed this is probably the most popular use of VPNs currently. Literally millions of people use them all over the world to bypass blocks and restrictions placed from all sorts of organisations from TV companies to Governments. A decent VPN service gives you the ability to visit, watch or download whatever you want without external controls. It gives you a fake IP address which you can change at will !
How does a VPN work?
A VPN (virtual private network) helps you encrypt your traffic and protect your online privacy – this is the basic definition of the function of a VPN service.
In non-technical terms a VPN works by connecting you to a server in a different location than your original computer. This will protect you from anyone who is trying to track or spy on the contents of the traffic that goes through the VPN. It also allows you to browse the internet without being tracked by advertisers, content providers, and other third parties. We used to use proxies to act like a ninja like this but now VPNs have become the standard.
VPNs are especially useful for people who use public Wi-Fi networks, because they can help keep their personal information private. They’re also useful for people who want to make sure that their activities on infected computers don’t get detected by antivirus software.
What are the factors to consider when choosing a VPN location for streaming?
There are a few things to consider when choosing a VPN location for streaming. These include the type of content you want to watch, your internet connection speed, and the availability of specific VPN servers in that area.
Basic Functionality for Privacy and Security
When streaming content online, it’s important to choose a VPN location that offers good performance. This includes ensuring that the server is located close to where you live so that your download speeds are fast and there are no delays during playback. You can also check if the particular server offers specific types of streams
The VPN should offer a decent level of encryption such as 128-bit or 256-bit so that your connection is secure. You should also ensure that the VPN service does not keep logs of your activities online. These can be used to identify or compromise your privacy. Fortunately most VPN services delete this logs immediately as it ensures privacy and is easier than managing the legal responsibilities of storing the personal data.
Server Location is Vital for Commercial Geo-Blocks
Many people are not actually that concerned with the security aspect of using a VPN although arguably they should. Instead they simply want to use the VPN to hide their location and access geo-blocked media sites. Basically they just want to watch TV abroad when they’re on holiday or have moved. You can use a VPN to pretend your in whatever location you need as long as they have a VPN server located in that country.
Examples of some of the most popular are listed below –
BBC iPlayer – Restricted to UK
A huge multimedia site dedicated to storing and broadcasting content produced by the BBC one of the world’s biggest and oldest media companies based in the UK. The site has eleven live streaming channels and thousands of news, sport, drama and current affairs programs available to stream. There’s dedicated children’s channels and news stations and even better no external advertising at all.
ITV Hub – Restricted to UK
Another popular media site ITV Hub is the UK’s largest commercial TV station is also only available to UK based viewers. It was accessible in Europe to some extent prior to the UK leaving the EU
Hulu – Restricted to US and Some Other Regions.
For many years Hulu was only available in the US particularly all it’s free content. It’s now expanding and you can access Hulu in different countries now including Europe and the far East. However like many geo-targeted sites even if you can access the site the content will vary depending on your locations. Usually the US version is the best simply because of the copyright restrictions and limitations on many of it’s shows.
Netflix – Choice of Libraries
The streaming site is now pretty much available in most of the developed world. Your Netflix account should work globally but the version you get will depend on the location you’re logging in from. Again the US version of Netflix is by far the best and some of the local country versions have much less content. Connect to a US VPN server and your Netflix version should be the US one irrespective of where you actually are located.
Additionally, make sure you’re aware of any geographical restrictions on which VPNs are allowed in certain areas – many popular streaming services have blocked IP addresses from certain countries entirely.
What are the best VPNs for streaming?
VPNs are especially useful when streaming TV shows or movies online, as they allow you to bypass geo-blocks and watch content from anywhere in the world. However if your using your VPN to protect your privacy and stream media from websites then there’s a few aspects that are vital.
Server Count and Speed
Streaming video through a slow VPN connection is very frustrating. The frames will stutter and stall and any video will be unwatchable. Connecting to a VPN server adds an extra step in your connection so it’s vital it’s fast in order to maintain your internet connection speed.
Ensure the VPN company you use has fast servers, plenty of them and a decent back end infrastructure to support them, Trust us, you don’t want to stream any video through a slow VPN connection.
Support for Streaming Sites
Most of the world’s best media sites who operate geo-blocking technology don’t like VPN connections and try and block them. Take for example the BBC iPlayer who for many years you could use almost any VPN service to watch anywhere in the world. This changed around 2020 when they started to detect and block VPN services automatically and were very successful.
In fact in 2022, we’d estimate that approximately 80-90% of VPN services even with UK based servers won’t work with BBC iPlayer. The website monitors connections and blocks any that it identifies as originating through a VPN server. It’s not that hard to do – too many connections on a single IP address are highly likely to indicate a VPN server.
You can keep these hidden by managing the number of connections and routinely rotating the individual IP addresses assigned to the UK servers. However it takes a lot of effort and many VPN services have neither the ability or infrastructure to do this.
There are a number of different VPN providers, but we recommend using NordVPN because they have some of the best performance rates in the industry. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee so you can test them out for yourself!
FAQs about VPN streaming
FAQs about VPN streaming:
What’s the Best VPN Location for Video Streaming Sites or Services ?
Generally the best location for your VPN is either the nearest server to your physical location to maximise speed. If you’re trying to access a geo-blocked site then the best location for your VPN is in the same country as your target e.g. UK for BBC, US for Hulu etc.
Can I watch US Netflix with a VPN?
Yes if you use a VPN and connect to a US based server, However remember Netflix like many media sites has blocked large numbers of VPN services so you should check that they are supported for buying a long subscription.
Do I Need to Create Accounts ?
Most media sites now require that you create an account before using their site. Obviously the paid premium channels require this but most of the free sites do as well in 2022. Mostly this is nothing to worry about as there’s rarely any additional verification. However there are a couple of issues that you do need to be aware of –
- Paid sites – often check the location of the payment method used. So be careful how you pay if you’re using a premium site.
- Postal/Zip Codes – many site ask for a postal code to check your location. Most of the UK sites do this, but as long as you input a valid address there’s no further check.
- Customer/Subscription Numbers – if you’re asked for a customer/subscription number then a VPN won’t help you. Some of the Canadian sites do this and unless you’ve got access to valid customer number then it’s probably not worth trying further. Probably can find them online if you look carefully though.
I Can’t Install VPN Client Software on my Streaming Devices – What Do I Do?
There’s no doubt that using a VPN is the best solution for most people using computers/laptops etc. However many people don’t use these devices to stream programmes online. So how do you get a VPN to work on things like media streamers or Smart TVs where you can’t install any software.
There are a couple of options –
Connect on your Router
Some VPN services including our favourite NordVPN have the ability to connect directly from your router. It’s not particularly difficult if your router supports VPN client connections and you only have to set it up once. However you should remember that connecting the VPN here will affect every device that uses the router when it’s enabled. So if you connect to a UK VPN service every single device connected would be routed through this UK server.
There are workarounds but they can get a bit technical. If you don’t mind this limitation/your router supports VPN client connections or there’s only a few people using the router as an internet gateway then this is a simple solution.
Smart DNS Internet Connection
Smart DNS is an innovative alternative to using a VPN that can work really well. Some VPN solutions (including NordVPN) offer this service as part of the standard subscription. It works by using a specially enabled DNS server which hides your connection for you. To enable all you need to do is change your device’s DNS server to point to this server (and have an active account). Then your location will be hidden when connecting to specific streaming sites.
It doesn’t offer any security protection and only works with certain pre-configured sites so you’ll need to check first. The ones that come free with VPN services are usually quite basic and only work with free sites. However you can purchase dedicated Smart DNS Solutions that work with hundreds of media streaming sites – this one has a 14 day free trial.