One of the greatest conveniences of living in the globalized digital world of today is that geographical borders mean almost nothing to you. Whether you are a traveler or an expatriate, you can enjoy all the content available in your original country (or any other for that matter) on any of the smart devices you own. Alas, content providers and some governments try to limit access to specific websites/services through geo-blocking. You can bypass them easily using a few simple apps and techniques.
4 Ways to Bypass Geo-Blocking and Enjoy a Truly Free WWW
1. Browse the Internet with Tor
Some might consider Tor to be the software for the paranoid. However, the reality is such that in some countries are pervasive in their surveillance of your web traffic. The leaders among those are Bahrain, Belarus, China, Cuba, North Korea, and Russia. The Onion Router, a.k.a. Tor, is a solution that allows browsing the Internet freely, even when you are located within the countries that watch and record all your traffic (private communications included). As these countries also have the habit of censoring and blocking a big part of content, Tor will enable you to access all of it.
Please do not consider Tor a solution designed for doing something downright illegal or some criminal. A simple example of its benefits for a traveler is that you will have to use this browser to check your Facebook account while in China as this country officially blocks it.
The Tor Project offers a variety of solutions for any device:
- Tor Browser (for Windows, MacOS, and Linux)
- Orbot (for Android)
- Tor: Pluggable Transports (for circumventing DPI)
Tor works by bouncing your traffic around, which allows to bypass geo-blocking as well as surveillance, and nearly any other digital block used today. This is the easiest solution for getting an unrestricted access to the Web from any place on the planet.
2. Become Anonymous with VPN
Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) application is a very simple, albeit limited, way to bypass geo-blocking. You achieve this by tricking the system into thinking that you are actually within the country where the content is available. As VPN routes all your traffic through the network of misleading connections, you can use it for other purposes than web browsing. For example, you can use it for unblocking BBC iPlayer on your smart TV and stream content limited to the UK while on vacation in Brazil.
Like with Tor, you don’t have to do any ‘hacking’ to use VPN. Simply download and install a proper app. Next, follow its instructions.
- For iPhone: PrivateVPN, ExpressVPN, NordVPN
- For MacOS: Ivacy, VyprVPN, IPVanish
- For Android: Betternet Free VPN, F-Secure Freedome VPN, Hideman VPN
- For Windows: Hotspot Shield, TigerVPN, CyberGhostPro
Note that many of these apps will work with multiple platforms, like ExpressVPN and NordVPN.
Unfortunately, using VPN slows down your traffic greatly. This system is also well-known to content providers and they use a variety of tactics to block it, so it’s not a foolproof solution.
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3. Use a Proxy Server
Proxy servers work similar to VPN in that they reroute your traffic to bypass geo-blocking. However, they are much faster as they reroute only a part of the traffic dedicated to a single application, like browser or torrent. These solutions will work best for watching geo-locked content on TV streaming networks, like Netflix.
Best web proxies to try are:
- Hide My Ass
Be careful of free public VPNs as they’ve been known to spy on users and steal their private data. To be safe, you should choose a proxy with good reputation on user forums as well as the one that uses HTTPS encryption.
4. Make Use of Google Public DNS
Google itself provides a detailed guide on how to use Google Public DNS. It’s designed to speed up traffic as you get to simplify the DNS lookups performed by your device. The best news is that this service does not only increase your web browsing speed but also conveniently allows you to bypass network filters set for certain websites.
To make the deal even sweeter, Google Public DNS actually beefs up your own online security. The only downside to this service is that it won’t get you through all geo-locked services. However, it’s a great ‘first resort’ you should try and virtually risk-free.
How to Bypass Geo-Blocking: Final Thoughts
As content slowly migrates to the Web, providers resolve to fight piracy with geo-blocking, which is a sound strategy. However, as a traveler or an expat, you shouldn’t be inconvenienced by these restrictions. By using VPNs, proxy servers, Tor, and Google Public DNS, you can access almost any content from anywhere, while still paying for non-restricted content as the law-abiding citizen you are.
Note that so far there are no laws against bypassing geo-blocking. Truthfully, these matters are considered ‘gray area’ of the law. However, there isn’t a legitimate reason to have legally persecute the use of these tools.
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