A colleague working abroad wanted to get streaming Internet content (videos from Netflix and Hulu, music from Pandora). But those services only have content distribution deals for US customers so they block non-US subscribers. How can those services be tricked? By connecting through a US server. Here’s how.
A Virtual Private Network or VPN is used by many companies to secure traffic and make your computer appear as if it is on the local corporate network. Internet traffic is typically tunneled through the corporate servers making it appear as if the web browsing is originating on those corporate servers.
Finding a VPN Provider
You can set up a VPN yourself with OpenVPN, but it’s fairly complicated.
I suggest using a paid VPN service. Because all your traffic goes through these servers and your bandwidth is limited by the speed of the VPN servers, you need to chose a VPN service that you can trust. Most VPN providers that I found look a little shady. There are lots of fake review sites as well that are clearly promoting particular sites.
StrongVPN is a provider that describes their corporate history, locations, and services in detail. Their corporate headquarters is in California and by all appearances, they aren’t a shady company. As of this writing, they have 94 servers in the US in 8 locations.
They have setup instruction for Windows, Mac and Linux.
They have a page explaining how to make sure that Hulu, etc. will work for you:
Unblocking Geographically Blocked Sites
My colleague used StrongVPN without any problems. There is typically additional lag by going through the extra hop of a VPN, but the bandwidth from StrongVPN was good and it worked well enough to watch streaming shows while outside the US.
Unrelated to VPNs, another solution for video when traveling abroad (or anywhere) is Slingbox, which allows you to access your home cable box or DVR. See my old post: Watch Your Home Team with Slingbox.