We may call the glorious series of tubes the World Wide Web, but that doesn’t mean you can view every website’s content all around the globe. Many of the big name content providers – like Steam, Netflix, Pandora and BBC – employ region locks to limit their services to specific countries. But this is the Internet we’re talking about, so naturally, there are ways around the roadblocks.
A few notes before we begin: the solutions offered below aren’t perfect. Surfing speeds are usually slow, content providers sometimes restrict access from certain proxies and VPNs, and you often have to pay proxy owners for access to streaming content. Got it? Good, let’s go spoofing!
The easiest way to bypass many region locks is by using free “High Anonymous” proxy servers, which don’t identify themselves as proxies when connecting to websites; find them by searching proxy aggregators like proxy.org or running a quick Google search for “<country name> free proxy”. Most free proxies don’t allow streaming, however, so you’ll have to do some digging. FoxyProxy offers access to high-speed proxies in countries around the world, but you have to pay for access.
A lot of proxies use an in-browser interface to get the obscuring job done, but others require you to manually tweak your browser’s proxy server settings. Here’s how to do it.
Click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner > “Internet options” > “Connections” tab > “Lan Settings”. Check the box next to “Use a proxy server…” and enter the proxy’s info in the “Address:” and “Port” fields. If the server uses additional settings, click on the “Advanced” button to input them.
Click “Firefox button” > “Options” > “Options” > “Advanced” tab > “Settings”. Select “Manual Proxy Configuration” and enter the information provided by your proxy server.
In Chrome, you want to click the button marked "Change Proxy Settings" in the Options Screen.
Virtual Private Networks often offer better region-cracking success than free proxies, but if you want to stream content, you usually have to pay for a premium VPN service. UltraVPN and HotSpot Shield are two free VPN services that allow U.S.-based streaming, but major services like Hulu and Netflix often block access by their servers. Make sure whatever VPN you choose offers IP addresses for the country you want to access content from.
Many VPNs use stand-alone applications that you simply activate and log in to. Others may ask you to connect manually. Here’s how to do just that in Windows 7/Vista:
Click “Control Panel” > “Network and Sharing Center” > “Set up a connection or network” > “Connect to a workplace” > “Next”. If prompted, click “No, I’ll create a new connection.” Connect via “Use my Internet connection,” and enter a name and the address provided to you by your VPN. Afterwards, connect to the VPN by selecting it from the network icon in the system tray. You’ll need to enter your supplied username and password to access the VPN.
Your options are few if you want to stream region locked content to gadgets like an iPad or Boxee Box rather than computers. Two premium DNS redirection services allow users to watch U.S.-locked content on devices (and computers) all around the world: Unblock-us and UnoTelly. Reports say these $5 services work well and speedily, but only for the devices and services listed on their websites. All you have to do to use them is sign up and tweak your gadget’s DNS server settings; you can find device-specific instructions on the respective sites.
Payment and Location
A quick note on payment options: accessing region-locked content on premium services like Steam and Netflix requires you to have a credit card from the country you’re spoofing. A prepaid Entropay virtual card lets you hop that hurdle (Unblock-us has a great tutorial), but you’ll still need to enter a valid country-specific physical address when registering with content sites. Usually, any valid address will do. Just sayin’. Remember not to do any banking, including Entropay transactions, while connected through a VPN or proxy. Teaser image credit: Unblock-us.com