How to Unblock a Website on Google Chrome

If you can’t access websites on Google Chrome it could be because of geo-restrictions. Our tutorial here will guide you through the process of unblocking a site when browsing with Chrome.

Google Chrome has the ability to manage cookies, your browsing history and cached data, and enter into an “Incognito Mode” that gives some small level of anonymity. Unfortunately, none of these features actually unblock websites that are unavailable due to geoblocking or censorship. To solve this, this article will explain how to unblock a website on Google Chrome using a VPN.

Specifically, we’ll explain why websites are often blocked, how a VPN can help, and which specific VPNs you can trust to unblock websites. We’ll also explain the difference between a Google Chrome VPN extension and a standalone app that you can install on your device (including iPhones and Android phones). We’ll start by going over the best VPN providers in the industry and giving you some of our best deals for their services.

What are the best VPNs to unblock websites?

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is the best way to access blocked websites with your Google Chrome browser. The first reason is easy to guess, given the service’s name–ExpressVPN is incredibly fast. This is partly due to the service’s server network, and partly due to its technical features. On the technical side of things, ExpressVPN comes with a wide range of modern encryption protocols. These reduce the amount of speed lost to encryption while protecting your data. Specific protocols include 256-bit AES over OpenVPN, which combines speed with security, as well as L2TP (which is fast but a little less secure). In addition to these technologies, ExpressVPN uses one of the largest server networks in the industry: 3,000+ nodes in 94 countries. With a network so large, it’s always easy to find a fast server nearby – and since speed and traffic are both unlimited, you can enjoy high speeds as often as you want.

Underpinning these features is a great no-logging policy, which prohibits ExpressVPN from recording DNS requests, server assignments, IP addresses, timestamps, or browsing history. There’s also a combined failsafe in the built-in kill switch and DNS leak protection modules. Taken together, it’s all but impossible for you to be identified by your activity, as it should be.   It makes it even more difficult to enforce website blocks, since you can just switch your IP by using one of thousands of VPN servers and shroud yourself in the unbreakable power of encryption at will. What’s more, ExpressVPN is known to cycle through different sets of IP addresses, allowing you to stay one step ahead of IP blacklists. Finally, ExpressVPN is available for use with Chrome as a browser extension, or as a standalone app on any of the most common platforms.

To learn more, check out our ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocking Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu, Amazon Prime
  • Reliable and fast connections
  • Govt-level AES-256 encryption
  • Keeps no logs of personal data
  • Great support (24/7 chat).
Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than some other options.
BEST VPN FOR CHROME: ExpressVPN is our #1 choice. Access blocked websites on Chrome with ExpressVPN’s incredible privacy provisions. Get 49% off the yearly plan, plus 3 months free.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the more exciting entries on our list. It’s a VPN focused on beating censorship, unlocking content, and security – but how well does it unblock websites on Google Chrome? Let’s start by looking at software compatibility: NordVPN offers a Chrome browser extension as well as a standalone app for virtually any platform. In either case, it is as easy to use the software as it is to install it, with an intuitive user interface sporting an attractive graphical server map.

Speaking of servers, there’s a lot of them here: over 5,400 in 61 countries worldwide. Their network also packs an array of specialty servers tailored toward specific use-cases. Want to sneak past shared IP blacklists? Fire up the static IP server. Really want to get past a firewall? Give the multi-hop or obfuscated servers a try. Wherever there’s a way to block a website, there’s a way to circumvent that block with NordVPN.

Other core privacy provisions include 256-bit AES encryption, plus an impressively thorough (and independently audited) no-logging policy. There’s an automatic kill switch which prevents a single unencrypted data packet from leaking out, even if your VPN temporarily loses connection. Finally, there’s even a CyberSec module, which features optional toggles for ad blocking and anti-malware protection.

Take a look at our NordVPN review for more info.

Pros

  • Servers optimized for unblocking Netflix
  • Mind-boggling number of servers
  • Torrenting is explicitly permitted
  • Based in Panama
  • 24/7 Live Chat.
Cons

  • They can take 30 days to process refunds.
BEST BUDGET VPN: Use Chrome with no restrictions thanks to NordVPN’s large server network and security features. Save 75% on the 3-year plan when you use our exclusive link.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is the perfect if you want an easy solution for unblocking websites on Chrome. For starters, this provider offers both browser extensions and standalone apps on virtually any Chrome-compatible operating system. No matter which version you choose, getting set up and started is incredibly easy. Usually, you simply have to choose one of six preset connection profiles. The “unblock basic websites” and “unblock streaming websites” profiles enable to smash firewalls and dodge IP blacklists with just a single click. You can also customize the profiles using a number of plain-language toggles, including “block ads”, “data compression”, and “more speed”. With CyberGhost, you don’t need to understand the technical settings to adjust to achieve these goals, you just need to click a button.

This provider’s network features over 3,600 servers spread across 60 countries, enabling you to borrow an IP in any part of the world (except for Antarctica). CyberGhost also packs powerful 256-bit AES encryption, plus one of the best logging policies you’ll find anywhere. In our testing, we found connections speedy and stable, and experienced little to no lag, buffering, or latency issues. Clearly, CyberGhost excels both in presentation and performance, producing a VPN that is ideal for daily use.

To learn in our CyberGhost review.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Hulu
  • Special profile designed for torrenting privately
  • No leaks detected
  • No logs policy
  • 24/7 Live Chat Support.
Cons

  • WebRTC leak detected
  • Can’t unblock some popular streaming sites.
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4. PrivateVPN

As its name implies, PrivateVPN is the perfect choice for security-minded users. For starters, it employs the world’s best censorship-piercing encryption protocols, including 256-bit AES over OpenVPN and L2Tp. In addition to beating website blocks, this level of security means that criminals, governments, and other third parties will all find it hard (or impossible) to know what you’re doing when you’re online. Combined with a tough no-logging policy, this is enough to give anyone who prioritizes privacy and anonymity peace of mind. PrivateVPN doesn’t have the biggest network (just over 80 nodes in 59 countries), but each server punches above its weight in terms of speed, reliability, and utility–there are even specially optimized connections for a variety of use-cases, like unblocking Netflix from a foreign country.

Unfortunately, there’s no Google Chrome extension available with this VPN, though there is a wide variety of apps for all common operating devices and systems is available. There’s also a free remote setup for desktop users, wherein an expert helps you get up and running with PrivateVPN in minutes and without you having to do anything. These features, as well as some convenient extras – like a P2P friendly policy and port forwarding – help make up for the lack of a native Google Chrome extension. If you want to limit your VPN usage to your browser, you can use the split tunneling feature to do so quickly and easily.

SLASHED PRICES: Browse the Internet freely from your Google Chrome browser. Save an incredible 65% on the 1-year plan and get an extra month free when you subscribe using our link.

5. PureVPN

PureVPN is a versatile service provider with 2,000+ servers spread across 140 countries. Most VPNs have servers in countries like the US, the UK, and Canada, but what happens if you want to access content from a more obscure nation? Well, with other providers, you may find yourself unable to do so. With PureVPN, the odds of this happening are extremely small thanks to such a generous range of available IPs. This is useful for bypassing region-specific website blocks, especially in conjunction with PureVPN’s powerful 256-bit AES encryption.

However, PureVPN offers so much more beyond traditional VPN fare: app filtering, DDoS protection, getting a dedicated IP address, NAT firewalls, anti-spam filtering, and even antivirus software. Not enough? Connect to their proprietary Ozone server to activate URL and content filters, anti-malware protection, IDS/IPS, and a dedicated app blocker. That’s a lot of cybersecurity in one package, all underpinned by a time-tested logging policy.

DEEP DISCOUNT: Want to do more than just unblock websites on Chrome? Let PureVPN guard your cybersecurity for less – with a 74% discount, exclusive to our readers.

Why are some websites blocked?

There are several reasons a website may be blocked. One important one is censorship. All kinds of countries prevent residents and visitors from accessing some websites for a variety of reasons. In China, it’s often because information has the potential to be politically subversive. In a country like Saudi Arabia, it might be because content (visual and text) is seen as immodest or heretical. In some specific cases, countries censor certain brands’ websites if the product they sell is banned domestically. For example, Romania has a track record of banning gambling websites. What matters is that in all these cases, the desire to censor some or all content is the reason for a ban. No website or service is too big to be exempt; even giants like Facebook and Wikipedia get banned due to censorship.

Another common reason for website blocks is something called geoblocking. Here, it’s companies and organizations, rather than governments, taking action to stop users from accessing content. For example, if you try to use Netflix in a country like Cambodia or Ireland, you’ll find that a lot of the series and films are unavailable. That’s because Netflix has a deal in place with film production companies and distributors. The deal basically states that some content is only available in specific countries and that Netflix has to block users outside these countries from viewing it. With other services, like Hulu and BBC TV in the UK, only one country’s users can watch specific content. Either way, the point is that websites and the businesses owning them use geoblocking to lock out individuals from certain countries.

Last but not least, some bans are purely about political control and eliminating foreign competition. For example, China has a strict policy against services like Facebook, Whatsapp, et al. This is done partly to make sure the state controls all messaging services, and partly to eliminate competition for state-owned companies like WeChat. This block is neither about censorship nor about geoblocking but is another reason why a website you want to access might be blocked.

How can a VPN help unblock websites on Google Chrome?

A VPN does two things to help you unblock websites. First, it routes all your data through a remote, foreign server rather than through your Internet Service Provider. TThis gives you a foreign IP and makes you appear to be located in another country. As a result, it helps unblock websites you couldn’t access previously and otherwise digitally relocates you overseas. This helps you bypass censorship, geoblocking, as well as all other national and corporate-level firewalls, unblocking blocked websites quickly and easily.

In addition to giving you a foreign IP, a VPN does one other important thing: it encrypts all your data before it even leaves your computer. This lets you stream the web safely and securely, without your ISP and the government knowing about what you do online. This is important because in some countries, you can get in a lot of trouble for accessing blocked websites. With a VPN, though, nobody will ever know what you do from your Google Chrome browser. That’s the second reason to unblock websites using a VPN.

What’s the difference between an app, a browser extension, and a manual set-up?

There are several ways to unblock websites when you’re using Google Chrome. One is to install a Chrome browser extension that brings your VPN service directly to the browser. This is a convenient way to do things if you only want to unblock block websites. Its main advantage is ease of installation and use. The first possible drawback is that everything you do outside your browser remains unprotected, with data being routed through your ISP and your regular IP address. This can be convenient in some cases, e.g. if you want to do most things from your regular connection, but it can also be a problem. Another problem is that for most services, the browser extension can be a little short on features.

This brings us to the second way to use a VPN: via a separate app. This is possible if you’re using a common desktop or mobile device running popular operating systems like iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, and Android. It’s also possible with some other devices, including video game consoles and a few routers. The primary benefit of an app is that it can have more features than a browser extension. A secondary benefit is that with an app, everything you do online is VPN-protected. This includes your Google Chrome usage, your video games, your downloads: everything. This is handy if you want to do things other than just unblock websites.

Last but not least, you can choose to forego both an app and a Google Chrome extension in order to input your VPN settings into your device manually. The upside to this is that this lets you get a VPN on devices that have neither a compatible app nor a functional Google Chrome extension. It’s also useful if you can’t install extensions to your Google Chrome, e.g. on an office computer. The downside is that things up manually can be tricky. In fact, an improperly set up VPN can lead to problems like DNS leaks, wherein your VPN doesn’t work as intended, failing to block websites and making your data easy to break into. For these reasons, manual VPN settings are best left to advanced users, developers, etc.

Final words

Now you know how to unblock a website on Google Chrome. What are you going to do next? Please leave any comments, questions, and feedback on what we wrote using the form below. We love hearing what our readers have to say – and a minute of your time can help us make better content going forward.

Read How to Unblock a Website on Google Chrome by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Buffered VPN Netflix Blocked; Working Solution for 2019

For Buffered VPN users who found Netflix to be blocked in their region, we have good news — we’ve done the testing and found working solutions to unblock Netflix from anywhere in the world.

You’re traveling or living abroad and you want to watch a favorite film or series. You turn on your go-to VPN — Buffered VPN — and go to Netflix.com. Once logged in, though, you quickly realize you can’t watch your favorite content. It’s blocked or restricted. Despite paying for a top-notch VPN service, you can’t enjoy Netflix. What you need, then, is a Buffered VPN “Netflix blocked” workaround for 2019, and that’s exactly what we’re bringing to you in today’s article.

Spoiler alert: there’s no silver-bullet configuration which will make Netflix work with Buffered VPN. Instead, you’ll have to find a different VPN provider that meets your needs. In this guide, we’ll remove the guesswork in selecting a service that actually works with Netflix, then explain why streaming sites enact geoblocks in the first place. Finally, we’ll discuss why Buffered VPN falls short where our recommended services succeed.

Trusted VPN providers

With Netflix’s VPN bans becoming more aggressive and sophisticated all the time, the list of VPNs confirmed to grant access to the site grows thinner each week. But don’t worry–we’ve got you covered!

Below, you’ll find the top 5 VPNs on the market, each with a proven track record unblocking Netflix:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is a consistently strong choice for Netflix users. The reason is readily apparent from the service’s name: ExpressVPN is one of the fastest VPNs in the industry, which makes it ideal for smooth streaming. Another key advantage is the tremendously large server network of over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. With so many servers and IPs, it’s virtually always possible to find one that opens Netflix quickly, easily, and with no buffering or black screens. It also means that you can access a variety of Netflix libraries in addition to the US and Canadian ones, which is nice if you like international series and films.

Technologically, ExpressVPN combines speed with security. It uses 256-bit AES encryption to make your data unreadable. With this feature, even a government won’t be able to prove you were watching Netflix by intercepting your communications. Specific encryption protocols include OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, which are perfect for streamers, as well as SSTP: a protocol that works well in countries with intense censorship methods like China.

Bandwidth, speed, and server switches are all unlimited, meaning you can enjoy Netflix to your heart’s content and no matter where you are. Simultaneous connections let you connect up to 3 devices so you can share with other household members and multi-stream when you need to. Apps and instructions are available for all common devices, from Mac desktops to routers and Smart TVs, which makes installation fast and easy.

To learn more, check out our ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Works with US Netflix, iPlayer, Hulu and other services
  • 3,000+ super fast servers
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Strict no-logs policy for personal information
  • Great support (24/7 chat).
Cons

  • Expensive month-to-month plan.
BEST FOR NETFLIX: ExpressVPN is our top recommendation for unblocking Netflix. They have an immense server network and high streaming speeds proven effective at streaming international Netflix catalogues. Get a 49% discount on the yearly plan plus 3 extra months free with our special offer.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is a security-first VPN service. While that might not sound like a natural choice for Netflix users, don’t rush to conclusions. The ability to cycle through IPs combined with NordVPN’s security features are a great way to watch the streaming service no matter where you are. One major reason is the massive server network. With over 5,400+ nodes in 62 countries, even Netflix finds it difficult to keep up with NordVPN’s long list of IPs. It helps that some servers are optimized for streaming. For example, you can get a dedicated IP that beats shared IP blacklists (like the ones used by Netflix). If censorship is a problem, you can count on obfuscated servers to hide the fact you’re using a VPN from third parties.

Another important factor with NordVPN is directly related to security. As you likely know, using a VPN slows down your Internet connection – even if only a little bit. Fortunately, NordVPN uses some of the fastest encryption protocols available today. These include OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, both of which combine speed with security. They also include L2TP: a fast, slightly less secure option that’s perfect for using Netflix. These protocols, combined with unlimited speed, bandwidth, and server switches, means that you can use NordVPN to stream freely – and as often as you’d like. There are even 6 simultaneous connections available so you can stream from multiple devices simultaneously.

Read our NordVPN review for more information.

Pros

  • Works with Netflix, BBC iPlayer without breaking a sweat
  • Most VPN servers with different IP addresses
  • 2,048-bit SSL keys and DNS leak protection
  • No logs and encrypted connections for total privacy
  • Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
Cons

  • Some servers can have average d/l speeds
  • Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
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3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is an excellent choice for anyone who just wants to enjoy Netflix without wading through endless VPN settings. Unlike most other providers, where you have to make choices about servers, encryption, and other things, CyberGhost streamlines the process with 6 simple configuration profiles, ranging from “surf anonymously” to “unblock streaming”. The latter option is perfectly suited for Netflix, and all configuration profiles are easy to customize with simple toggles. For example, you can compress your data or get a speed boost for faster streaming by choosing the relevant options. The result is a flexible, powerful VPN service that makes it easy for users to get the exact connection they need when they need it.

In addition to being excellent for simple, straightforward Netflix use, CyberGhost has a few important features optimized for streaming. For example, it uses OpenVPN’s UDP and TCP, as well as L2TP, to give you the highest possible speed while keeping connections secure. Its server network is massive, with 3,600+ nodes in over 60 countries, meaning you can get IPs to match the location of any Netflix regional catalogue you want. Software is readily available for all modern operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, and Linux, meaning you can use CyberGhost with virtually any device you have. Last but not least, extra features like a kill switch and a connection guard help safeguard those affected by censorship.

More information is available in our CyberGhost review.

Pros

  • LOW PRICE: 6 EXTRA free months (79% off – link below)
  • P2P allowed on any server except in US and Russia
  • Not in the 14 Eyes
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • 24/7 Live Support.
Cons

  • IPv6 WebRTC leak in macOS
  • Some streaming sites cannot be unblocked.
MASSIVE DISCOUNT: CyberGhost grants you reliable Netflix access without overwhelming you with connection variables. Sign up for a year with our special 79% discount, and get 6 extra months free.

4. PrivateVPN

According to their own website, PrivateVPN was created with the express intention of giving its users ready Netflix access. So, how does it succeed? In our testing, we found PrivateVPN’s connections to be among the speediest and most reliable on the market–indeed the perfect companion to Netflix. It’s an impressive feat too, considering their network numbers a mere 80+ servers in 59 countries. Of this spread, PrivateVPN has graciously labeled the servers specifically configured to unblock Netflix and other streaming sites, removing all guesswork involved. Furthermore, PrivateVPN is known to cycle their IPs often in order to overcome IP blacklists. This feature, combined with next-gen equipment and unlimited speed, bandwidth, and server switches, make PrivateVPN a good choice for anyone looking for a turnkey stream-unblocking solution.

PrivateVPN locks down your connection with impenetrable 256-bit AES encryption, and offers the ability to step down to 128 bits when speed is more important than security. Another selling point is the availability of SOCKS5: a proxy that bypasses censorship firewalls (including the Great Firewall of China). If you want to stream Netflix from countries like China, Kyrgyzstan, and the UAE, PrivateVPN is a great choice. Backing it all up is a comprehensive no-logging policy that promises never to hold connection and usage metadata which might be used to identify you. Truly, PrivateVPN lives up to its namesake, and beyond.

Want to learn more? Get more info in our PrivateVPN review.

EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT: PrivateVPN is ideally suited for bypassing VPN banlists on streaming websites like Netflix. Get 65% off on the 1-year plan, plus an extra month free – available to our readers only.

5. PureVPN

PureVPN is an outstanding value-for-money VPN with a number of features that make it a perfect fit for Netflix users. For starters, PureVPN runs an impressive network, with a massive volume of servers (over 2000) spanning a mind-blowing 140 countries. That last point means you can get some truly unusual IP addresses, including Uzbekistan, Belize, Kuwait and more. (We found it fun just to discover new places to connect to!) No matter which version of Netflix you want, you’ll quickly be able to find servers that let you access your desired content. Access to all of these servers is included in every single PureVPN plan, as are unlimited traffic and bandwidth, meaning you can stream to your heart’s content. As an added bonus, there are dedicated streaming servers optimized for services like Netflix, preventing buffering, lagging, and low-quality streaming.

In addition to its massive server network, PureVPN has a number of secondary advantages. For example, it can help you defeat ISP throttling: a method Internet providers use to artificially reduce your speed. There’s also a VPN split tunneling feature, which lets you encrypt individual applications while allowing the rest of your traffic to proceed to your ISP as normal. For extra security, connect through their proprietary Ozone server, which automatically enables anti-malware protection, IDS/IPS, URL and content filters, as well as an app blocker.

PureVPN is available on all common devices and operating systems. Unlike most other VPNs, it comes with a remote setup service that installs PureVPN on Windows, Linux and MacOS devices without your involvement. Together with up to 5 multi-logins per household, this makes PureVPN an excellent choice for anyone who appreciates good value for money – and especially for families.

READER DEAL: PureVPN offers one of the most user-friendly VPN services with top speed and security features. Try it with our special offer – 74% off the regular price.

Why does Netflix block proxies and VPNs?

There are 2 reasons VPN users can’t watch Netflix. The first is called geoblocking. It’s when services like Netflix block certain countries’ users from watching their content for legal reasons. Believe it or not, Netflix doesn’t restrict people in different countries from watching content just to be annoying. There are very good business reasons for them to do so. A blockbuster film or series can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, while even relatively minor productions cost millions. To recoup these expenses, studios and their distribution partners rely on sales of cinema tickets and physical media, plus increasingly on streaming licenses. As such, these licenses are fairly pricey, and they need to be purchased separate for each market.

So, if Netflix wants to stream the next hit Marvel film, they have to consider which licenses make the most sense to purchase. The U.S.A., U.K., Canada, and even the Netherlands are all good candidates, as their user demographics favor big Hollywood blockbusters. But what about more foreign locales, like Laos or Turkmenistan, or countries where audience tend to prefer selections from their own unique cinematic history, like France? The high cost of purchasing licensing rights from Disney for these countries may well outweigh the return on investment from audiences less interested in these films.

Netflix redirects would-be viewers from other countries away from their regionally licensed streams. And since they shell out a small fortune for big-name titles, they don’t take kindly to the “wrong” people using proxy services to access this content. Thus are geoblocks born to ensure Netflix both maximizes profits on the licenses they hold, and to uphold license agreements with copyright holders.

A second reason why Netflix may be blocked is more about the country or building you’re in. (Some) corporations and countries take a great interest in controlling what media their populations have access to, and take steps to blacklist websites and ban VPNs. The exact methods vary, including firewalls, deep packet inspection and DNS filtering, but the result is the same: no Netflix for you without a VPN capable of overcoming these countermeasures.

Why doesn’t Buffered VPN work with Netflix?

The central reason Buffered VPN doesn’t work with Netflix is very simple. Buffered VPN only uses shared/dynamic IPs. This means that every time you log into the service, you get a new IP; usually one that’s been used by dozens or hundreds of users before you. Since many of these people are trying to watch Netflix just like you, the IP you use stands out to the streaming service. After all, why would hundreds of people be using different accounts from a single IP? That’s right–because they’re using a VPN’s shared/dynamic address. Netflix understands this logic very well and is constantly on the lookout for these kinds of IPs and servers.

Once a shared IP is discovered, it’s added to a “blacklist” of addresses that can’t access Netflix. Since Buffered VPN only uses dynamic/shared IPs, virtually none of their servers can access Netflix reliably. This, in a nutshell, is why Buffered VPN doesn’t work with Netflix. The company did do their best to keep changing dynamic IPs faster than Netflix could blacklist them through much of 2018. But as of Q1 2019, Buffered VPN is largely ineffective for accessing Netflix, barring a stroke of dumb luck.

Why doesn’t Buffered VPN just change shared IPs faster?

Like we said, Buffered VPN used to change shared IPs faster than Netflix could find them. This meant that users could freely watch Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and other streaming services while behind the VPN. The problem is as follows: the longer Netflix goes to war against shared IPs, the better they get at it. In the past, a human operator was required to confirm additions to the IP blacklist. Today, the process is mostly automated – so as soon as it becomes clear that an IP is likely shared between a large number of users, it stops working with Netflix. There’s really nothing Buffered VPN can do to fight the problem because of their policy to only use shared IPs. To be sure, many of our recommended VPN providers use shared IPs as well, but they all have other novel methods to make their connections work in conjunction with rotating IP lists. Others offer static IPs (discussed below) for sneaking past blacklists. The point is, Buffered VPN offers only the basics, and as of 2019, that’s just not enough to get past Netflix anymore.

What about dedicated IP addresses?

The services we list on this page offer dedicated or  “static” IPs. With these, nobody other than yourself logs into Netflix using the same Internet address. This means that Netflix has no simple way to tell you’re using a VPN and can’t block you. Although a dedicated IP sometimes costs a little extra money, most users find that it’s worth not having to cycle through dozens of servers to watch Netflix. Moreover, having a dedicated IP means you don’t have to share your online address with anyone, no matter what you’re doing. The best part is that with our recommended services, you can have both kinds of IPs. You can get a dedicated IP for streaming and other low-risk activities where privacy isn’t paramount and use shared IPs when you want the maximum possible level of privacy. Obviously, Buffered VPN lacks this functionality, otherwise it wouldn’t be the subject of this article!

Closing words

Sorry Buffered VPN fans, your outlook for unblocking Netflix is looking grim with your current provider is grim. However, with our recommended VPN servers, you not only get unrivaled access to all your favorite international streams, but a plethora of other privacy provisions as well.

What will you do with your new VPN? Got a favorite stream you want to tell us about that you couldn’t access before now? Leave us a comment below!

Read Buffered VPN Netflix Blocked; Working Solution for 2019 by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

Unblocking Blocked Websites Without a Proxy (Quick Privacy Guide)

Proxies come with a number of problems that can make enjoying the free and open Internet difficult or even impossible – but VPNs are different. In this article, we’ll present a few of the best VPN providers on the market, explain how website blocks work, then examine how VPNs succeed where proxies fail.

There are many reasons to want to get a foreign IP address. For example, you may want to view Netflix’s full library while traveling or living abroad. You may want to experience the Internet as if you were somewhere else – for example, to learn a new language. You may want to overcome local censorship laws and explore the free web. But how can you start unblocking blocked websites without a proxy (which can be dangerous and unreliable)? With a VPN.

The best VPNs for unblocking blocked websites

If you’re sick of paying for a proxy that doesn’t unblock the websites you want, definitely take a look at VPNs. Each of our recommended providers occupies a similar price point to proxies, but far exceeds them in capability. We may be biased, but when you get more utility for the same money, doesn’t that make the switch a no-brainer?

To help you narrow down a crowded marketplace, we present to you the top 5 VPNs for unblocking websites:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN holds a special place in most VPN reviews–the very top. Truly, no other VPN strikes quite the same balance of speed, security, and usability as ExpressVPN. Let’s start with the basics: 256-bit AES encryption wraps each of your data packets in a compact fortress of cryptography, thwarting the efforts of hackers, ISPs, advertisers, and governments alike to snoop into your activity.

For total anonymity, ExpressVPN has put into place a solid no-logging policy, erasing any trace of your identity before you ever leave it behind. Not enough? The massive network of over 3,000 servers in 94 countries is fine tuned for performance, delivering impressive stability and industry-rocking connection speeds throughout. Taken together, these core features make short work of even the toughest website blocks.

If all that power seems intimidating, rest easier knowing that the best of these features are typically accessed with a single click in ExpressVPN’s highly intuitive and attractive software interface. No matter what your favorite device is, you’re likely to find a dedicated ExpressVPN app is available for immediate download. Installation is a breeze, as is daily usage. And speaking of which, ExpressVPN perfectly lends itself to always-on functionality, with zero caps on bandwidth, speed, or server switches.

The cherry on top? Protect up to 3 different devices with just a single subscription.

To learn more, check out our ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3 months free (49% off – link below)
  • 3,000+ super fast servers
  • Torrenting allowed
  • Keeps no logs of personal data
  • Customer Service (24/7 Chat).
Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than some other options.
BEST OVERALL VPN: ExpressVPN is our best VPN choice. Blast through website blocks with ExpressVPN’s encrypted server network. Get an exclusive 49% discount on the yearly plan, + 3 extra months free.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of the titans of the VPN industry. It’s easy to use for newbies, but also rewards technical know-how with an impressive array of advanced features and configurations. It all starts with industry-standard 256-bit AES encryption over OpenVPN, offering users unbreakable security without sacrificing on speed. What’s more, NordVPN has one of the widest networks in the industry: 5,400+ servers in 61 countries. With so many servers, you can get virtually any IP you want to easily bypass website filters and geoblocking.

Need more? Check out NordVPN’s array of specialty servers, each optimized to a different functionality like onion over VPN, obfuscation, getting a dedicated IP, anti-DDoS, and P2P.

In addition to being an excellent unblocker tool, NordVPN is also wonderfully easy to use. The user interface is attractive and minimalistic, with a large number of features neatly presented in a simple, elegant design. There’s even a graphic world map that lets users choose servers quickly and easily. Apps are available for virtually any device and operating system you can think of, including desktops, tablets, smartphones, routers, video game consoles, smart TVs – and more.

Something else we really liked with NordVPN is customer support. It’s available 24/7 and the operators are both knowledgeable and helpful, with replies usually coming within a few hours of us submitting tickets. Between this and the above features, it’s easy for us to recommend the NordVPN experience as one of the best on the market.

Read more in our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off – link below)
  • Mind-boggling number of servers
  • DNS leak protection, kill switch
  • No logs and encrypted connections for total privacy
  • Great customer service via chat.
Cons

  • Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
SPECIAL PRICE: NordVPN has the sheer power and utility to ensure consistent access to the free and open Internet. Sign up for 3 years of service with our exclusive 75% discount.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is an excellent VPN provider that combines powerful features with an intuitive user experience. When you log into the desktop versions of the CyberGhost app, you’re not bombarded with endless options and features. Instead, you’re simply greeted by 6 preset configuration profiles to choose from. Most notably, there is a preset to “Unblock Basic Websites”, which unlocks immediate access to the 10 most commonly restricted websites. Similarly, “Unblock Streaming” does the same for 20 popular streaming services.

It’d doesn’t take long to get familiar with these options, but the utility they provide is endless. And that’s not all–CyberGhost also provides a set of toggles with plain-language names like “Extra Speed” and “Block Ads”. These make it easy to customize your Internet experience for even better results – all while requiring no technical knowledge.

In addition to being excellent at unblocking websites, CyberGhost is incredibly safe. Everything starts with a selection of cutting-edge AES-256 bit encryption protocols. These run the gamut from the modern, reliable OpenVPN to legacy options like PPTP (which works when other technologies don’t). No matter what sort of censorship or block you face, there’s a CyberGhost encryption setting to help you get past it. Backing it all up is one of the most thorough and complete no-logging policies in the business–they don’t even keep the email address you use to sign up, much less sensitive personal metadata on how you connection to and use your VPN. All in all, if you want to take the guesswork out of unblocking your favorite sites, go for the streamlined CyberGhost VPN experience.

Want to know more about the service? Read our full CyberGhost review.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix + BBC iPlayer
  • Compatible with TOR
  • Jurisdiction in Romania
  • Zero logs and good privacy features
  • Reliable and knowledgeable 24/7 live chat support.
Cons

  • Doesn’t work well in China.
BEST BUDGET DEAL: CyberGhost trivializes the process of getting past even the most stringent website blocks. Get the 79% discount and 6 months for free, available to our readers only.

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN is an outstanding value-for-money VPN that helps you unblock websites and enjoy the free and open Internet. Whether it is a relatively simple firewall set up by your school to block Facebook, or something as massive as the Great Firewall of China, PrivateVPN has a countermeasure. Want to unlock the U.S. version Netflix from abroad? Simply choose one of several servers specially market to unblock streaming services, and get on with your content binge. Need to escape harsh censorship? Deploy PrivateVPN’s SOCKS5 proxy, which punches through firewalls. It’s all underpinned by unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption, plus a strict no-logging policy on your most revealing metadata.

PrivateVPN is also easy and convenient to use. For starters, it’s the only service we know with a free remote setup installation. The service is only available for desktop users, but if you choose it, an expert will actually install and configure PrivateVPN for you – no matter where you are. This is incredibly convenient – and if this isn’t up your alley, don’t fret. Apps are available for all common devices and operating systems, and you also get manual instructions if you want to get set up using a legacy router, a custom operating system, etc. Throw in unlimited bandwidth, speed, server switches, and a P2P and torrent-friendly policy, and you get one of the best all-in-one VPN services on the web, period.

Take a look at our full PrivateVPN review for more details.

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5. PureVPN

PureVPN has many claims to fame, but its far-flung network covering 140 countries with over 2,000 servers tops the list for users in need of a website unblocker. Indeed, you can get virtually any country’s IP address you want, letting you bypass geoblocks with ease. Whether you want to watch the US version of Netflix, enjoy Russia’s state TV programming, or listen to Hungarian radio shows as if you were in Budapest, PureVPN makes it possible with just a few clicks. Even better, there are zero limits on speed, traffic type, and or bandwidth, so you never have to go online without your defenses up.

Need speed? PureVPN delivers on multiple fronts. Its sheer number of servers allow you to “shop around” for your best connection, while dedicated P2P and streaming servers further optimize configurations for those use-cases. There’s even built-in anti-ISP throttling that removes artificial speed limits set by your ISP. How about privacy? PureVPN respects your right to anonymity with powerful 256-bit AES encryption, and a solid no-logging policy covering timestamps, IP addresses, DNS requests, server assignments, and browsing history. And cybersecurity? That’s covered by an incredible ensuite array of features including app filtering, DDoS protection, dedicated IP addresses, NAT firewalls, anti-spam filtering, and even antivirus software.

Overall, it’s hard to find more VPN for your dollar than PureVPN, and we’re happy to recommend it as one of the very best providers.

Read our full PureVPN review.

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Why are some websites banned?

If we simplify how the Internet works, we can say that every time you load a website, you exchange data with it. Unfortunately, many websites are unavailable in specific locations for all kinds of reasons. One is geoblocking. This is when a website or brand makes some or all of its content unavailable to people based on where they are geographically. For example, many US websites don’t let Russian users access their content. In another example, Netflix gives you a different version of their website depending on where you’re logging in from. The latter example is probably the most common reason websites get banned due to geoblocking – and it affects billions of people worldwide at any given time.

In addition to geoblocking, there’s censorship and various firewalls. Leaders and governments in countries like China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and many others don’t want people to access much of what’s on the web. In countries like China, this is done for ideological and political reasons. In much of the Arab world, it’s done to shield citizens from immodest images, information that may anger adults, etc. The end result is that many websites that might contain sensitive information are blocked.

Last but not least, we have firewalls that have nothing to do with geoblocking nor censorship. For example, in Russia, LinkedIn and Slideshare are both unavailable. In the UAE, you cannot use Skype or Facebook Messenger. China prohibits all popular international messengers, from WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger. This isn’t necessarily done for any nefarious reasons. It’s often done to protect domestic developers and their business, or because international companies won’t comply with local regimes’ demands (e.g. Russia’s demand to store all data in their country). Ultimately, what matters is that no matter why websites are blocked, they’re blocked and completely unavailable.

What’s the problem with proxies?

A proxy is a server that acts as a bridge between you and the parts of the Internet you want to access. It gives you a new IP and lets you access data that’s usually off-limits. For example, let’s say you’re in China and can’t access Facebook directly. You can use a proxy to access it indirectly, appearing to use the Internet from your proxy’s location and Internet address.

The main problem with proxies is pretty obvious. Your data, which is unencrypted by default, passes through a remote server whose location and ownership are unknown to you. Your IP address is hidden – but your data isn’t protected, and it now has to go through another transition point on its way to and from you. This may not be a big deal if you’re doing something that requires absolutely no security, like checking the news from a public computer. In all other scenarios, however, proxies are pretty dangerous. Think about it: your data is 100% unencrypted, meaning that everything you do is completely visible to anyone who gets a hold of your data. This makes proxies a poor choice for gaming, checking private correspondence, streaming, and virtually anything else that requires any modicum of privacy.

Another big problem with proxies is that they’re very limited. For example, most proxies let you access a specific website – but can’t protect you when you’re gaming, streaming, loading large pages, etc. They only work for occasional low-data use cases. This makes them unsuitable for regular usage.

How do VPNs compare?

VPNs have something in common with proxies: They both relay your data through a remote server and give you a new IP. However, there’s one massive, important difference between a VPN and a proxy. A VPN encrypts data before you send or receive it. The only two devices that can then encrypt this data are your device and the VPN’s remote server. In effect, this creates a tunnel between you and your VPN service. Nobody can see what’s happening to the date inside the tunnel – and nobody can interfere with your connection and trick you by throwing malicious data in there.

Modern VPNs can also do all kinds of cool stuff. For example, you know how Internet Service Providers like Verizon and Time Warner can sometimes downgrade your speed? If not, here’s how that works. Let’s say you run out of traffic on your monthly plan. When this happens, most ISPs will downgrade your speed. A VPN can help you bypass that by routing your data requests through its servers rather than your ISP’s. Pretty cool – especially if your ISP downgrades your speed all the way down.

Another cool thing is that you can use a VPN for anything you want to do online. It’s good for gaming, torrenting, video calls – anything you can think of. Whereas most proxies are so slow that they’re only good for reading the news and checking an occasional e-mail, a VPN can do it all. Moreover, a VPN tends to come with apps and other features that help create a seamless experience for you. All in all, a VPN is just a better, more secure, more advanced version of a proxy – and what we recommend you use by default.

In parting

Now that you know how proxies are different from VPNs and why you might want one, what are you going to do next? Leave a comment below and let us know; we love getting your feedback.

Read Unblocking Blocked Websites Without a Proxy (Quick Privacy Guide) by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How to Hide Your IP Address When Downloading (2019 Guide)

Downloading files, whether from a server or via torrenting, is a major part of using the Internet. Unfortunately, it comes with numerous privacy risks that pose a large problem to some users — our tutorial here will explain how to hide your IP address when downloading files on the Internet.

When downloading torrents, for example, your IP address is visible online whenever you are peering or seeding a file. This makes it easy for hackers, copyright holders, and ISPs to identify you (and worse). So what can you do to protect yourself? Use a VPN.

Trusted VPNs for safe downloading

A good VPN service will become the middle-man between you and the Internet, establishing a secure, encrypted link between your device and its server network. From there, your data packets get relabeled with an IP address borrowed from the server itself, then passed on–innocently decrypted–to its original destination. To any outside observers, the VPN server is the one making data requests, not you. And, since any number of thousands of people can be sharing the same server (and therefore, IP address), it makes it impossible to pin down specific activity to any one user.

This process is the essence of modern privacy, and it’s a task suited to only the most trustworthy VPN provider. But how do you choose the right service in such a crowded marketplace? Check out our list of the top 5 VPNs to help you hide your IP address for safer downloading:

1. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN is our number one choice for all users who are looking to download, stream, or play video games online. As you can imagine, this is due to the provider’s unmatched connection speeds. With a server network spanning over 3,000 nodes in 94 countries, you’ll be spoiled for choice in configuring your VPN connection. Need help boosting download speeds? Fire up ExpressVPN’s built-in speed test to see the fastest available servers all at a glance. Regardless of how you connect, you’ll never have to worry about caps on speed or bandwidth, nor will you face traffic restrictions that might otherwise block your P2P (torrent) traffic.

In addition to some of the best download speeds, ExpressVPN is rich in security features that make it ideal for masking your IP address. For starters, the provider uses 256-bit AES encryption to make your data “unreadable” to any third parties looking to access your data. This includes your ISP, the government, and even trained cybercriminals. For added privacy, ExpressVPN operates by a strict no-logging policy, ensuring your activity logs can never be used against you (because they don’t exist!). Worried about overreaching copyright trolls? The company is headquartered in a privacy-friendly jurisdiction: the British Virgin Islands. This insulates ExpressVPN from political pressure to compromise its privacy policies for the sake of international surveillance, as is common in major western nations.

To learn more, read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
  • Reliable and fast connections
  • Govt-level AES-256 encryption
  • Keeps no logs of personal data
  • 24/7 Customer Service.
Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than some other options.
BEST FOR DOWNLOADING: ExpressVPN is our top choice VPN. It lets you download in peace using one of thousands of false IP addresses. Get a year 49% off, plus 3 extra months free with our special deal.

2. NordVPN

NordVPN is a top tier VPN provider known for having one of the biggest server networks in the industry. With 5,400+ nodes in more than 60 countries, you’ll have plenty of speedy and reliable connections to choose from, all but guaranteeing an excellent downloading experience. Moreover, NordVPN comes with unlimited bandwidth, speed, and server switching, making it ideal for daily usage. There’s even an array of specialty services tailored to specific use-cases, including P2P downloading.

Once you’ve connected to hide your IP address, you can rest easier knowing that your real identity is locked behind unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption–the industry standard for good reason. Backing this up is a solid no-logging policy, covering traffic, IP addresses, timestamps, bandwidth, and browsing history. This makes it all but impossible to trace your identity by your metadata, since no records are ever left behind to incriminate you, justly or otherwise. Additional cybersecurity features include malware protection and ad blockers, which further bolster your digital defenses.

Read more about the service in our full NordVPN review.

Pros

  • SPECIAL OFFER: 3-year plan (75% off – link below)
  • GooglePlay users rating: 4.3/5.0
  • Strong encryption is used on all connections
  • Retains no metadata of your browsing
  • 24/7 Customer Service.
Cons

  • Automatic server selection can be unreliable
  • Apps can be a bit cumbersome to use.
READER SPECIAL: NordVPN offers an astounding array of IP addresses to hide behind while downloading. Save 75% on the 3-year plan using our signup link.

3. CyberGhost

CyberGhost is the perfect VPN service for those who want the full range of quality features without complicated setups. For starters, the app is dead-simple to install, while the minimalist, colorful user interface makes navigating the software a breeze. Once you launch the app, you’ll be able to choose from six different profiles, all pre-configured to deliver best VPN settings for each use-case. For example, for secure downloading, you can choose “torrent anonymously” or “protect my Wi-Fi connection”. If you want to further customize each profile, you can do with simple toggles, including “extra speed” and “blocks ads”. If you want to manually configure your connection, you have over 3,600 servers in 60 countries to choose from. Feel free to change it up often, as there are no limits on server switches, bandwidth, or speed.

Don’t confuse user-friendliness with weakness, however. CyberGhost packs the incredible 256-bit AES encryption, the default choice of military, industry, government, and privacy nuts alike. Backing this is one of the industry’s best no-logging policies–they don’t even keep your email address, much less records of your sensitive connection and usage metadata. Desktop users can access further cybersecurity provisions, including a connection guard, an automatic kill switch, an ad blocker, and online tracking blocker. Dedicated software is available on all major platforms, including Windows phone, iOS, and Android, enabling you to download in peace with any of your favorite devices.

Want to know more about the service? Read our full CyberGhost review.

Pros

  • LOW PRICE: 6 EXTRA free months (79% off – link below)
  • Compatible with TOR
  • Jurisdiction in Romania
  • No logs policy
  • Reliable and knowledgeable 24/7 live chat support.
Cons

  • WebRTC leak detected
  • Can’t unblock some other streaming sites.
BUDGET DEAL: Cloak yourself in a veil of anonymity while downloading–use CyberGhost to spoof your IP. Get a 79% discount on 18 months of service with our exclusive offer.

4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN might look like just another tiny VPN from Sweden, but it punches well above its weight. A network of 80+ servers in 59 countries isn’t exciting on paper, but in practice we found our connections to be remarkably fast and stable–perfect for downloading. It helps that PrivateVPN doesn’t discriminate against P2P (or any other kind of) traffic, and won’t slap you with speed and bandwidth caps like so many other providers. In terms of security, you get 256-bit AES over OpenVPN as default; you could pool together all the world’s processing power to try and crack this cryptography, only to fail spectacularly. You also have the option to step down to 128-bit encryption when privacy is a secondary concern to performance.

All of these features are underpinned by a strict no-logging policy, covering timestamps and in/outgoing IP addresses. Their Swedish jurisdiction is also advantageous, as the country has shown itself to be friendlier to online privacy than most other major western nations. Onboard DNS leak protection, connection guard, and IPv6 further secure your IP address while downloading. Dedicated apps are available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Android, iOS, routers, and more.

Take a look at our full PrivateVPN review for more details.

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How do I configure my VPN to hide my IP address?

Getting started with any one of our recommended VPN providers only takes a few moments. Here, we’ll explain the process of getting started with a VPN in order to hide your IP address when downloading or torrenting.

Initial setup

  1. Choose one of the VPN providers in this article and sign up by clicking on the appropriate link. Make sure to make note of your new sign-in details – you’ll need them in a moment.
  2. Download and install the right app for your device. For example, if you are browsing from a Samsung smartphone, make sure you choose the app for Android.
  3. Launch the app and use your login details from step 1 to sign into the service. Give the page a few moments to load, and once it does, you’ll be able to choose a server. If you’re simply looking to stay safe online, hide your IP address, and download with the fastest available speed, the server assigned to you by default is an ideal choice. If, however, you have a specific geographical location in mind, make sure to choose the server manually.

Verify your connection

Before you start downloading anonymously, it’s important to verify your connection to ensure that everything is working properly.

  1. Visit ipleak.net. This page will run an automatic IP address lookup test, which will confirm that the VPN is working and there are no leaks.
  2. Once the page loads, check the section under “Your IP Addresses”. If you an IP address that matches the location of the server assigned to you, or the one you’ve chosen manually, you are ready to torrent and browse safely!
  3. If you see your real IP address (in your physical location), there may be a leak in the connection, and you have to contact your VPN provider to resolve the issue. It’s important to note, however, that if you start downloading without resolving this issue, your connection will not be safe and your real IP address will be exposed as though you weren’t using a VPN service.

What exactly is an IP address?

In a nutshell, an IP address is a unique number that is assigned to you by your ISP. Without an IP, you wouldn’t be able to communicate with other devices or users on the Internet. Think of your IP address as your phone number – it’s your digital identification number, and each one of your devices has a different one. So, no matter what you do on the web, from simple downloads to browsing, this ‘unique number’ will always point in your direction. So why is it a problem if your IP address is exposed when you are torrenting or sharing files with other users?

Why should I hide my IP?

First, while torrenting is not illegal, downloading copyrighted content can get you a serious fine or even a lawsuit threat. If your IP address is exposed, sooner or later your ISP or cybercriminals can track your download activity. If you are downloading content or software that is meant to be for sale, you can face a serious copyright infringement notice. This is particularly common in countries like the U.S.A., Canada, Germany, France, and Australia. Violating copyright laws is a serious offense; for example, in America, a first-time case can carry a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 5 years in prison. If you accumulate a record of several cases, you can face a sentence of up to 10 years. In order to avoid this, you will need to remain anonymous online at all times.

In addition to copyright issues, keeping your IP address exposed can pose a security threat to all your personal data. Downloading or uploading a torrent file by default adds your IP address to a massive torrent swarm. This enables third parties, including trained hackers, to see your personal data, trace it back to your identity, and even use it without your awareness. This includes malicious online trackers that are known to gather sensitive data, which is then sold to advertisers for targeted marketing strategies. Ever wonder why ads on your browser or even Facebook feel a little too personal? This may just be from that time you downloaded a film via BitTorrent.

Using a quality VPN will ensure that none of the above will happen. Not only will it encrypt your traffic and hide your IP address, but it will ensure that everything you do online, from browsing to downloading, will always be anonymous. Furthermore, there’s the added bonus of masking your IP address – bypassing regional blocks. So, if you want access to any Netflix catalogue in the world, we can get you started within a few minutes.

Conclusion

You are now aware of the possible dangers of exposing your IP address when downloading files. Luckily, we have you covered with some of the best VPN services on the market. Not only will they ensure that all your data is kept hidden from every possible third party, but grant you the fastest possible connection.

So, after you install your VPN, what are you going to download first? Have any tips for those who are just getting started? Leave us your comments down below!

Read How to Hide Your IP Address When Downloading (2019 Guide) by George P.H. on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter

How ExpressVPN Still Works in China in 2019

Today we’re going to show you as much as possible how ExpressVPN does it – and how you can use them when you’re in China. We’ll discuss ExpressVPN, online censorship in China and some tips for operating ExpressVPN while you’re there.

In 2018, China did what they said they would – crack down on VPN use. While still not explicitly illegal (at least not to private citizens), a lot of VPN providers got hit hard. Even ExpressVPN users were shaken in October when they lost the ability to get through the Great Firewall for a bit. But while other providers haven’t recovered, ExpressVPN did – so how do they do it? How does ExpressVPN still work in China when so many other providers have fallen away?

ExpressVPN still works in China

First, let’s do a quick review of some of our favorite features of ExpressVPN. With over 2,000 servers in 94 countries, ExpressVPN has a big, established network. Despite being located in the British Virgin Islands, they’re firmly outside of U.K. jurisdiction, and therefore exempt from the major surveillance agreements between countries – so no worries about anyone coming knocking for your information. And even if they could request anything from ExpressVPN, there’d be nothing to show that can trace back to you – the provider doesn’t keep any logs on traffic, DNS requests, IP addresses, or browsing history.

ExpressVPN is also one of the fastest providers on the market, giving you buffer-free streaming, fast download times, and seamless browsing. And they manage to do this – and remain lightweight — in spite of military-grade, 256-bit AES encryption that keeps your data secure and private. ExpressVPN has proven itself time and again as one of the few VPNs that can reliably punch through China’s Great Firewall – and even when they’ve been knocked down, have quickly overcome the problem and returned service to their many customers.

Learn more about the best VPN for China in our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros

  • Unblocks US Netflix
  • 94 countries, 3,000+ servers
  • OpenVPN, IPSec & IKEv2 Encryption
  • Keeps no logs of personal data
  • 24/7 Live Chat.
Cons

  • Slightly more expensive than some other options.
BEST FOR CHINA: Get the power to break the through the Great Firewall with ExpressVPN’s blazing fast network. Our readers get 49% off the yearly plan, plus 3 extra months free.

VPN blocking in China

As you probably already know, China has a long history of VPN-blocking. While internet censorship is nothing new – most countries block access to illegal content, for instance – China’s restrictions are on another scale. As many as 10,000 or more sites have been reported as blocked, including social media sites and messaging apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. This makes it hard for farflung family members and friends to keep in touch; plus, with dissenting opinions quickly crushed, and most western sites blocked, very little unbiased news of the outside world reaches China’s interior.

Accordingly, many individuals turned to VPNs – even corporations. In the latter case, it’s a necessity, so the Chinese government allows certain VPN services to operate within its borders – but these are controlled by the government, who can see any and all information that passes through. Off-shore VPNs (like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and others) are not illegal for use by citizens (yet), but few are capable of getting through China’s sophisticated firewall.

RELATED: Does ExpressVPN Work with Torrents? Tested and Reviewed for 2019

How does ExpressVPN do it?

We’re not going to sit here and claim that ExpressVPN is perfect and works in China 100% of the time. In fact, in October of 2018, a big attack was launched against VPNs that knocked out many of the few services capable of operating to begin with – including ExpressVPN. Many providers might have done nothing and waited it out; ExpressVPN, however quickly acknowledged what had happened. They sent an email out to their users mentioning the disruption and including a link to download the latest software updates. With those updates, released shortly after the disruption, many users were able to quickly use ExpressVPN in China once more.

One reason ExpressVPN is able to consistently unblock the internet for Chinese users is just that – rapid acknowledgment, followed by quickly getting to work on updates that will resolve the issue. Another reason is that ExpressVPN doesn’t have any servers in mainland China. This means it doesn’t fall under any Chinese data retention legislation – so China isn’t privy to ExpressVPN’s (nonexistent) user logs. That also makes it harder for their hardware to contain any bugs from Chinese-government operatives.

How to use ExpressVPN in China

One of the great things about ExpressVPN is that there are no additional steps or hoops to jump through for connecting in China. All you need to do is pick your preferred server – like normal – and you should soon be browsing the web freely. That said, some servers work better than others. As some general guidelines, stick with servers that are in nearby cities and countries, like Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea. More specifically, these servers are proving (at the time of writing) to be the better choices as of writing:

  • Hong Kong – 4
  • Taiwan – 1
  • Singapore – Jurong
  • Japan – Tokyo
  • USA – Los Angeles – 3
  • USA – San Francisco
  • USA – Seattle
  • UK – East London

But it’s also a good idea to register, download, and install ExpressVPN before you enter China. There are mirror sites and other ways you can get around this if you’re already located within China, but the easiest method is to do so ahead of time. To do that:

  1. Visit ExpressVPN’s website through our special link. Then, click the banner at the top advertising the discount. You’ll be taken to the “plans” page. Select a plan, then provide the requested information. Once you’ve filled everything out and completed sign-up, you’ll receive an email from ExpressVPN.
  2. Go to the email you provided. The email from ExpressVPN will be entitled “Welcome Email.” Inside, there will be a link to download the application. Click through the link to be automatically logged in, then download and install the ExpressVPN app.
  3. Once you’ve successfully downloaded and installed the app, launch it. You’ll be automatically logged in and the app will connect you to the fastest available server. If you need or want to change that, just open the server list, search for, and select your preferred server.

Last steps

Because China monitors its residents’ online activity closely, when you connect with ExpressVPN for the first time in China, we suggest you take some additional steps. First, make sure that ExpressVPN automatically connects your device whenever it’s turned on. It’s easy to do this: visit the main page, then click the menu icon (3 lines) in the top left, and choose “Options.” Select the “General” tab and enable the first 2 options you see. These ensure you’re never browsing without protection. If you’re on a desktop version of the app, you can also enable the kill switch – this will disconnect you instantly in the case of an accidental VPN-connection drop.

This done, move over to the “Advanced” tab and click the boxes for IPv6 protection and DNS protection, then click “OK.” These will ensure that you don’t have any leaks of your real IP address or DNS address. That done, you’re good to go.

What to do if/when ExpressVPN doesn’t work

As we mentioned earlier, ExpressVPN has been blocked by the Chinese government before. They’re good at getting up-and-running again, but even so, there are things you can try out before giving up:

Change servers

This is the simplest and most instinctive reaction – just try changing servers. Something could’ve changed and your usual server may have been detected and blocked. Try a different one, then another one. ExpressVPN offers over 2,000 options, so a little persistence can go a long way.

Change protocols

ExpressVPN offers multiple encryption protocols. UDP via OpenVPN is the default option, but it can be detected by packet inspection. The SSTP protocol uses port 433 by default, so it’s great for beating hardcore blocks like China’s. Blocking port 433 would disrupt the entire internet, rendering every website that uses HTTPS inaccessible – so it’s unlikely China would block all traffic there. You can also try L2TP/IPSec, which can work at times.

Contact support

If you try these things and they don’t work, chances are you’ll soon get an email from ExpressVPN mentioning a blanket disruption. But in the meantime, give their support team a call/email/chat. They may have ideas for you, or at the very least, more information on when you can expect to have service again.

RELATED: China Extends Messaging App Block To WhatsApp

Why is the internet so heavily censored in China?

Diving deeper into our earlier point, why does China censor their internet so heavily? Political opinions aside, China’s restrictions are supposed to protect its citizens from content that could corrupt, divide, or incite hatred – in theory. The thing is, all content on the web is open to interpretation – and in China, only the government gets to decide what content falls under which category. So, political opponents, people with differing opinions, western media – all wind up being silenced.

Going with this, it doesn’t help that legislation – the Computer Information Network and Internet Security, Protection, and Management Regulations of 1977 – is worded so vaguely as to essentially give the government unlimited methods to censor content. Anything that could be critical of the government or an important personage – even an unbiased article – could easily be found guilty of numerous offenses, not least of which include “inciting division”, “injuring the reputation of state organs”, “activities against the constitution”, etc. Even discussing celebrity news can be considered a crime.

As such, many services – especially western sites and apps – have been blocked. Just a few:

  • Social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
  • Messaging – WhatsApp, Gmail, Slack, Telegram
  • Search engines – Google, Yahoo, more
  • News Sites – The Guardian, BBC, NYTimes
  • VPN and proxy-related sites – tutorials and configuration guides
  • Information sites – Wikipedia, Quora

Wrapping up

While in other countries, logging into Facebook, Gmail, or your Twitter account may just be a regular part of your day – not so in China. And although VPNs are excellent tools for bypassing censorships and geoblocks, most do not work on the other side of the Great Firewall. ExpressVPN however, has proven itself time and again as being able to punch through. Despite brief outages in service in China, ExpressVPN does still work in China, and they do it through a combination of tenacity and vigorous, continual efforts to keep the internet wide open.

Have you used ExpressVPN in China? Did it work for you? Did you have to take any special measures? Tell us your story in the comments section below.

Read How ExpressVPN Still Works in China in 2019 by Matt Seiltz on AddictiveTips – Tech tips to make you smarter