How to Bypass VPN Blocks & Stay Undetectable Online (2024)

Kate Hawkins
Last Updated by Kate Hawkins on December 21, 2023

More and more of the web is becoming hostile towards VPNs, and I’m tired of hitting blocks. Whether it’s streaming platforms, the government, your ISP, employer, or school, they all have their reasons to block your VPN usage — and I take issue with it.

Fortunately, with the right VPN and some insider tips, you can regain your online freedom. Bypassing content blocks or local internet restrictions is a thing of the past with a quality VPN, making the internet the truly borderless entity that it should be.

After testing 30+ VPNs, I found the best VPN for bypassing content blocks is ExpressVPN. It has superfast servers and cutting-edge tech to bypass all manner of VPN blocks. You can try ExpressVPN’s unblocking skills risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee — if it doesn’t suit you, you can easily request a refund.

Quick Guide: Bypass VPN Restrictions in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Download and install a VPN. ExpressVPN has thousands of fast global servers to bypass blocks. Try ExpressVPN risk-free with its 30-day money-back guarantee.
  2. Launch the VPN and connect to a server in the right location. For example, you’ll want a US server to watch Hulu.
  3. Visit the site or open the app you want to use, and start streaming or browsing!

Bypass online blocks with ExpressVPN

Top Tip: If you’re connected to a VPN server and still can’t access a web service, try clearing your cache and cookies. Elements of your location information are stored there and sent to the website — clearing this information gives you a “clean slate” when the website sees you attempting to connect.

Why Do VPNs Get Blocked?

There’s no single reason why VPNs are blocked, but rather a combination of hurdles they need to overcome to remain fully functional. These range from government overreach to workplace restrictions, though none are guaranteed to block a good VPN completely. The following are the main reasons you might have to contend with blocks:

Government Censorship

Unfortunately, there are multiple countries worldwide where governments censor their citizens online. They may be trying to silence political opponents, perceived cultural differences, or simply prevent news of their negative actions from spreading among the populace. Since VPNs are a powerful tool in bypassing censorship, these governments also regulate access to them — sometimes even making them illegal.

China is one of the most famous examples, employing a “Great Firewall” to keep its citizens from seeing selected outside content such as social media, Google, international news, Wikipedia, and much more. Downloading a VPN is also made near-impossible in China, and has to be done before arriving in the country when visiting.

You’ll find varying degrees of strictness in Turkey, Iran, and the UAE, where VPNs are technically legal but heavily restricted. In Belarus, North Korea, and Iraq, however, VPNs are entirely illegal.

Streaming Location Restrictions

If you’ve ever traveled abroad and were temporarily cut off from your home streaming library, you’ll understand the pain of geo-blocked streaming platforms. Websites like BBC iPlayer, HBO GO, Hulu, and ITV are only permitted in specific countries and will block everyone connecting from the “wrong” country by default. A VPN can bypass this issue.

Not all streaming platforms work this way, however. Netflix is one service that has libraries in various countries all over the world, although licensing restrictions mean that content differs on a per-country basis. For instance, if you’re from the US and travel to France, you’ll likely be missing a bunch of content. A VPN helps you connect to Netflix libraries in any location, so you don’t have to miss out.

Copyright

Copyright holders are understandably against people distributing and downloading their work for free online. As such, publishers will frequently monitor P2P downloads to track the IP addresses of copyright infringers. Once they discover these “pirates”, they often contact the offender’s internet service provider (ISP) to send a warning or a fine.

Since VPNs are able to circumvent this issue, some ISPs will block all VPN traffic, no matter what it’s used for. ISPs also know that VPNs can be used to bypass their own bandwidth restrictions and throttling, so they have their own ulterior motives for blocking VPN usage.

This type of blanket ban by an ISP is a lot rarer nowadays, although the fact that they have this power to begin with is slightly worrisome. Fortunately, a premium VPN will be able to disguise the fact that it’s active in the first place (via so-called “obfuscation”), so your ISP is none the wiser.

School and Workplace Restrictions

Schools and offices with shared WiFi will often block websites for a variety of reasons. This can range from distractions such as social media or video streaming, to censoring adult content. A quality VPN will be able to circumvent these bans. Just keep in mind that they may also try to outright ban VPN connections for this reason, so your VPN should support obfuscated connections.

Types of VPN Blocking

As VPNs become more widespread, streaming platforms and other online sources that implement restrictions are getting increasingly inventive. Fortunately, the best VPNs on the market are able to bypass all the main VPN blocking techniques below, and continue to adapt to new ones.

IP Blocks

A VPN replaces your original IP address with a new one in a different location, leading online platforms to believe that you’re somewhere else.

However, a problem can arise when services realize that certain IP addresses are connected to a VPN, then add them to a block list. For this reason, VPNs frequently rotate new IP addresses in and out of circulation to ensure they can stay a step ahead of potential blocks.

GPS Recognition

A unique issue that mobile and browser users can face is services recognizing their location via GPS. Since some apps have access to location data, they can cross-reference your GPS location with your IP address to determine whether you’re using a VPN.

Thankfully, you can often deny this permission to apps without any downsides. However, if an app takes issue with this, you can try opening the service’s website in your browser rather than through the app.

Port Blocking

Ports are points on a web-connected device where online connections start and finish. They’re also generally linked to specific pieces of software or services that are carried out by the device, such as specific VPN protocols, browser traffic, or sending emails.

Since some VPN protocols use specific ports (for instance, PPTP can only use port 1723), an ISP or website could block these known ports. Some ports are pretty much always left untouched, like port 443, since it’s responsible for encrypted HTTPS traffic (particularly relevant on websites where sensitive data is transmitted from your local device, such as credit card information).

However, thanks to obfuscation, it’s possible for VPNs to mask which type of traffic they’re sending and bypass specific port blocks.

Deep Packet Inspection (DPI)

Even though VPN traffic is encrypted, it’s still sent in the same fundamental way as other traffic, via so-called “packets.” This breaks your transmitted data down into smaller chunks to make it easier to send.

Deep-packet inspection (DPI) inspects the metadata of these individual packets to work out whether or not you’re using a VPN. It’s a significantly more advanced way of checking for VPN traffic, so it’s generally reserved for groups with more resources (it’s a technique favored by China and its Great Firewall).

Fortunately, with the right VPN, you can protect yourself even from DPI. ExpressVPN is known to be particularly good at this, which is why it’s frequently seen as one of the best VPNs for China. You can try ExpressVPN for 30 days risk-free and see whether it’s the right fit for you.

How to Bypass VPN Blockers

With a quality VPN at hand, there are some simple ways to bypass most common VPN blocks.

Install a Top Quality VPN

A premium and battle-tested VPN like ExpressVPN uses the latest techniques to bypass blocks. It also has the resources necessary to stay up-to-date with adding fresh IP addresses, encryption protocols, and obfuscation techniques, amongst other things. However, even a top-quality VPN isn’t always flawless, but you can use the methods below to resolve most issues.

Switch Your Server

A basic server switch is often enough to bypass a VPN block. Since most blocking is done via blacklisting VPN IP addresses, switching server will allocate you a new IP address which hopefully won’t be blocked. All the VPNs on our list below make it super simple to switch servers, whether it’s hopping from country to country or between cities in your country of choice.

Use Obfuscated Servers

When you’re normally connected to a VPN, parties like your ISP, government agencies, and even some websites can see that a VPN is active. Thankfully, top-end VPNs offer obfuscation, which tricks eavesdropping parties into seeing your VPN traffic as regular traffic. This lets all your data bypass blocks by simply blending in with the rest of the “normal” internet traffic.

On top of this, some VPNs scan for open ports and randomize which port they send data through when obfuscation is active. This makes it even harder for malicious parties who may be monitoring specific ports to detect your traffic.

Purchase a Dedicated IP Address

When a lot of people use one IP address to connect to a service, it can quickly become clear to the platform that a VPN is being used. The platforms will then blacklist the IP address, so it will no longer work. The simple solution is for you to purchase a dedicated IP address from a VPN provider.

A dedicated IP is a unique IP address in a specific server location that only you can access. As a result, platforms and websites won’t detect that your IP address is owned by a VPN and will instead treat you like a typical user.

To get a dedicated IP, you can choose the option while signing up, or add it later to an existing account. CyberGhost is the best VPN with dedicated IP and it offers this feature for an affordable price compared to several other VPNs.

Switch to Mobile Data

If you’re being blocked on your local WiFi network, the easy option is to just turn on your mobile data. If you’re using a desktop or laptop computer, you can use mobile tethering from your phone wirelessly or through a cable to achieve the same result.

Note that you can’t share your iOS or Android device’s active VPN connection through a WiFi hotspot. Instead, you need to connect to the hotspot and then set up a local VPN connection on the computer you’re connecting with.

Keep in mind that you can experience high data usage with this method, especially while tethering to other devices, so be cautious of your data limits.

Switch to a Different Port

Ports are sometimes blocked or monitored, but the solution is simple — switch ports. It might sound complex, but many VPNs already do this automatically by default.

If you do need to make a manual change, ports 443 and 80 are both good choices because so much of the internet requires them to be open. This makes them challenging targets to block since doing so would cause issues for all users, not just VPN-connected users.

Switching encryption protocols to the Secure Socket Tunneling Protocol (SSTP) is another workaround worth considering. It uses port 443 by default, as opposed to the relatively easily blocked port 1194 used by the popular OpenVPN protocol.

Change Your Security Protocol

Different encryption protocols offer various pros and cons, usually meaning a compromise between speeds and security levels. There are other factors to consider, such as being open source or having support for specific devices.

The following are the main protocols available on modern VPNs:

  • OpenVPN — Open source with extremely strong encryption, yet slowed (but still good) speeds. Used as the default protocol on many VPNs.
  • WireGuard — Lightning-fast, highly secure, and open source. Since it’s still in the relatively early days of development, it lacks some of the compatibility and features of other protocols.
  • L2TP/IPSec — Strong security and decent speeds, but can be quite easily blocked due to reliance on a single port.
  • IKEv2 — The best protocol for mobile devices, with fast speeds and the ability to handle bad connections that may be cutting in and out due to signal issues.
  • SSTP — Created by Microsoft and only available on Windows, SSTP has good security and is difficult to port block, but its proprietary code may put some people off.
  • PPTP — An old protocol designed by Microsoft that’s outdated in security terms, it’s still used by many people due to its relatively high speeds. You could consider it if you don’t require tough encryption, but I don’t recommend it due to its many vulnerabilities.

The Best VPNs for Bypassing Content Restrictions 2024

1. ExpressVPN — Superfast Download Speeds for Quick Content Streaming and Unblocking

Key Features:

  • Network of 3,000+ servers in 105 countries to access restricted content in any location
  • Obfuscation offered on every server for anonymous block bypassing
  • Connect 8 devices at once on 1 subscription
  • 24/7 customer support over email and live chat
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Thanks to its global selection of high-speed servers, ExpressVPN is a fantastic VPN for unblocking all manner of media content. In my tests, ExpressVPN averaged 94Mbps across 4 servers (Frankfurt, Paris, New York, and Melbourne). This is just a 21% average drop from my baseline speed of 120Mbps while disconnected. With ExpressVPN’s proprietary Lightway protocol, I maxed out at 104Mbps, which is impressively fast and more than enough for streaming in 4K.

ExpressVPN is an industry-leading VPN when it comes to the breadth of content that it can unblock. Use ExpressVPN to get access to the following platforms (amongst many others) :

Netflix Hulu BBC iPlayer HBO ESPN
Amazon Prime Video Disney+ FuboTV ITV Hub Hotstar
DAZN Sky Go Showtime Apple TV+ SlingTV
Discovery+ BEIN Sports Hallmark Channel Philo BritBox
Crunchyroll Starz VUDU Channel4 RaiPlay

I’m also a big fan of ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer Smart DNS feature to access content on devices that don’t normally allow native VPN installation. I tested this on my PS4 by setting it up with a UK DNS server and successfully connecting to my “home” content back in England. Note that this doesn’t encrypt your traffic but is nonetheless great at bypassing blocks.

You can easily bypass Netflix content blocks with ExpressVPN’s various servers

To ensure your devices remain safe while you’re bypassing blocks on the web, ExpressVPN offers powerful features, including:

  • 256-bit military-grade encryption to keep your data hidden from malicious parties
  • IP leak prevention to ensure your real IP address is never revealed
  • Audited no-logs servers to guarantee that none of your activity is ever stored
  • Network Lock, a kill switch that protects your privacy even if your connection drops

On top of all this, ExpressVPN is headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, which has no legal requirements regarding data retention. Even if a government requested your information, it’s impossible for them to pull any data off the servers. Thanks to TrustedServer technology, all of ExpressVPN’s servers run on RAM, so as soon as they’re powered down, everything is wiped.

If there’s anything negative to say about ExpressVPN, it’s that at $6.67/month its price is a little high relative to other top VPNs. However, due to ExpressVPN’s speed, overall security features, and strengths in content unblocking, I’m happy to pay this slightly higher premium.

ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans. Thanks to this, you can try ExpressVPN’s unblocking abilities completely risk-free. If you’re not satisfied, simply contact an agent via live chat. I tested this out myself and was happy to discover that the no-questions-asked refund policy makes the whole process a breeze. The conversation was wrapped up with a positive outcome in under 5 minutes, and I received the money back 3 days later.

ExpressVPN works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Edge, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Nvidia Shield, Xiaomi Mi Box, Google Chromecast, Roku, Android TVs, smart TVs, routers, and more.

2. CyberGhost — Optimized Streaming Servers Dedicated to Unblocking Content

Key Features:

  • 11,300+ servers in 100 countries for uncongested access to platforms and websites
  • Dedicated streaming servers are optimized to bypass streaming blocks
  • Connect 7 devices at once on 1 account
  • 24/7 live chat or email to for assistance around the clock
  • 45-day money-back guarantee

This VPN has an array of optimized servers dedicated to specific streaming sites, so you can quickly connect to the most efficient CyberGhost server and stream without interruptions. These optimized servers are frequently monitored in relation to each streaming platform. This ensures that IP addresses are rotated quickly enough to maintain constant access, giving you the very best servers for speeds and reliability.

Screenshot of CyberGhost VPN's optimized servers that unblock streaming platforms like Netflix, Sling TV, and Amazon Prime

With CyberGhost’s optimized servers you can get reliable access to your favorite streaming services

In fact, during tests, my team and I found that several of CyberGhost’s dedicated servers were faster than its standard servers. Its regular servers are also excellent, giving us average speeds of around 100Mbps. This is 4 times the amount needed for streaming 4K content, making it a great choice regardless of your intended online activities.

CyberGhost is great at unblocking streaming platforms. You can see a list of some of the available services below:

Netflix Hulu BBC iPlayer HBO ESPN
Amazon Prime Video Disney+ FuboTV ITV Hub Hotstar
DAZN Sky Go Showtime Apple TV+ SlingTV
Crunchyroll YouTube TV Peacock Kodi Comedy Central

To maintain these connections without revealing your original IP address, CyberGhost is one of few VPNs to offer an always-on kill switch. Some people may prefer having the choice to toggle this on or off, but when it comes to bypassing content blocks, an always-on switch will protect you from accidental leaks 100% of the time. This is a security advantage, particularly if you’re using public WiFi hotspots or connecting to the web via Tor. On top of this, CyberGhost also has:

  • 256-bit AES encryption for cutting-edge security
  • Romania-based NoSpy servers with added physical maintenance
  • No-logs policy

CyberGhost also has dedicated “NoSpy” servers that ensure your activity is hidden from any third-party entities, including ISPs.  All of that packaged at just $2.03/month for its long-term plans gives you great value for money. It lets you access your favorite content, and the yearly plans are a fantastic deal.

If you’re not sure you want to commit to a plan right away, you can try CyberGhost to check out your favorite streaming platforms risk-free for up to 45 days. CyberGhost’s refund policy is no-questions-asked, so when I tested it I was immediately granted a refund without issue. I received the money back 4 business days later.

CyberGhost works with: Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, Chrome, Firefox, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku, smart TVs, routers, and more.

3. PIA — A Huge Network of Global Servers for Instant Access to Blocked Sites

Key Features:

  • Large network of 35,000+ servers in 91 countries for instant connections to global servers
  • MACE malware and ad blocking and good choice of encryption protocols
  • Connect unlimited devices at once on 1 account
  • 24/7 customer support over email, live chat, and Twitter
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Private Internet Access (PIA) has a massive collection of 35,000+ servers in 91 countries making it perfect for accessing digital content from all corners of the world. It maintains large numbers of virtual servers, which don’t all have to be physically located in the relevant country. Virtual servers can be created or destroyed on a whim whenever the service requires new IP addresses, keeping you one step ahead of blocks the majority of the time.

PIA’s huge network of servers lets you unblock content from anywhere

It only takes a few seconds to gain access to popular streaming services with PIA. It can bypass the blocks of a number of services, including:

Netflix Disney+ HBO Max Amazon Prime Video Hulu Kodi
Crunchyroll US BBC iPlayer YouTube CBC Eurosport FranceTV
Canal+ ZDF ARD Hotstar India RaiPlay YLE

While you can let PIA take care of its settings on auto-pilot, it’s reassuring to know that there are plenty of useful settings in case a VPN block requires a little handiwork. With PIA’s multiple encryption protocols, port switching, and Shadowsocks/SOCKS5 options, you have several tools in Advanced Settings to assist you in bypassing all manner of blocks.
PIA also offers some more standard security features including:

  • 256-bit military-grade encryption hides your data in transit
  • Kill switch that protects your privacy even if your connection drops
  • MACE ad and malware blocker stops additional online threats

Although its speeds can’t compete with ExpressVPN, I still had sufficient speeds for streaming, gaming, and downloading large files. I tested servers in Spain, Australia, the UK, and the US, and found each location I tried to be consistently fast, with low ping on servers that were closest to my location.

My main concern about PIA is its headquarters being in the US, which is a central member of the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes intelligence alliances. This could give some people pause for thought, but PIA at least has some real-world evidence of its no-logs claims on its side. As well as its strict no-log policy, Russia seized one of PIA’s servers as part of a law enforcement investigation, but were unable to recover any user data from it. This should reassure any privacy-conscious users that PIA will protect your information.

You can get PIA for the low price of just $2.03/month using its 83% discount on the 2-year + 4 months plan. If you can’t decide just yet, you can try PIA’s unblocking abilities for 30 days with zero risk. I checked the refund process using the live chat, and the agent asked if there was anything they could do to help me stay with the service. However, they immediately approved the refund when I said no. The money was back in my account 4 days later.

PIA works on: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chromebook, routers, Chrome, Firefox, and more.

4. NordVPN — Premium VPN With Cheap Prices on Long-Term Plans

Key Features:

  • Short and long-term subscriptions available
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 6,080+ global servers in 61 countries
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • Protect up to 6 devices at once

NordVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market — and you can get super cheap prices when you sign up for a long-term subscription. One thing to note, however, is that when it’s time to renew your subscription, prices do increase quite significantly.

I was particularly impressed with the high performance of every server I tested. Just because a VPN has thousands of servers doesn’t mean they all work. Servers can still struggle to work — and some can even fail to connect completely. However, NordVPN’s servers work with Netflix for smooth, buffer-free streaming.

I did, however, have issues with using NordVPN’s native Fire TV app. Although it mostly worked with Netflix, it sometimes had issues and kept crashing. I also found that NordVPN’s user interface for desktop devices was less user-friendly than ExpressVPN and CyberGhost.

NordVPN has the following security and privacy features:

  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • kill switch that cuts your internet access if your connection to a VPN server drops suddenly
  • built-in ad and malware blocker, so you don’t need a third-party ad blocker
  • fully audited no-logs policy (audited by PwC) – NordVPN doesn’t store any personal or identifying data while you’re connected to the VPN

In addition, NordVPN includes Threat Protection that protects you from viruses, infected websites, and trackers – and it works whenever you have the NordVPN app open, even if you’re not connected to a VPN server.

NordVPN's threat protection keeps you fully protected at all times

NordVPN protects you from online threats 24/7

With plans that cost as little as $3.39 per month, it's easy to find a NordVPN subscription plan that suits your needs. You can also stream, torrent, and browse for free for up to 30 days with its money-back guarantee. I tested this to ensure that you’ll really get your money back. At first, the support team tried to give me an extended trial period — but they initiated my refund right away after I told them I wasn’t interested in the extension. I got my money back in 6 business days.

NordVPN works with: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, SkyTV, HBO Max, SHOWTIME, DAZN, ESPN, YouTube TV, and more

NordVPN works on: Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Chromebook, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Fire Stick, and Android TV

Get NordVPN today

5. Surfshark — Best Value for Money with Unlimited Device Connections and Fast Speeds

Key Features:

  • Short and long-term plans available
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • 3,200+ global servers in 100 countries
  • No bandwidth restrictions
  • Connect unlimited devices at once

Surfshark offers the best value for money out of every premium VPN on the market. You can connect an unlimited number of devices with a single subscription, which means you can use Surfshark on all your devices without getting logged out.

I tested Surfshark’s simultaneous connections on 2 PCs, 2 phones, a Fire Stick 4K, and an iPad. My connection remained reliable on all 6 devices. Even while I was actively streaming on all my devices, my average speed was 112 Mbps — fast enough for UHD quality.

When I saw the price of this service, I thought it couldn’t possibly have top-grade security features for such a low price, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Surfshark has the following security and privacy features:

  • AES 256-bit encryption on all devices, with ChaCha encryption available for Android users
  • Wireguard VPN protocol enabled by default
  • diskless, RAM-only servers to protect your privacy (no data can be physically extracted from any servers)
  • kill switch (although this isn’t enabled by default)
  • IP and DNS leak protection

Surfshark offers two-factor authentication (2FA) on your account. This feature requires you to enter an extra code before you can log in to ensure that only you can access your account.

While Surfshark does have slightly fewer global servers than rivals such as CyberGhost and PIA, I didn’t experience any issues during my tests. I easily connected fast working servers every time, and I had excellent speeds for streaming, downloading torrents, and browsing the internet.

You can try Surfshark for yourself with the 30-day money-back guarantee. It has plans that cost as little as $2.29. Requesting a refund is easy with Surfshark’s live chat feature. Although the support team asked why I wanted to cancel my subscription, I had no problem getting my money back (and it only took 4 days!).

Surfshark works with: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, Hotstar, HBO Max, DAZN, and more

Surfshark works on: Windows, Mac OS, Android, iOS, Linux, Fire Stick, Samsung Smart TVs, LG Smart TVs, Android TV, Kodi, and selected routers

Get Surfshark today

6. PrivateVPN — Highly Affordable VPN to Bypass Content Blocks

Key Features:

  • Small network of 200+ servers in 63 countries covering most major cities to unblock restricted content
  • A kill switch, military-grade encryption, and a good variety of protocols
  • Up to 10 devices simultaneously on 1 account
  • 24/7 customer support over email and live chat
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

Considering its low price, PrivateVPN is one of the best-performing VPNs overall. Its 3-year plan goes for just $2.00/month, making the fast and steady connections that I recorded across several global servers all the more impressive. PrivateVPN has established itself as a VPN that’s capable of bypassing blocks with good server performance without subscribers having to break the bank.

PrivateVPN uses High Quality Network servers which bypass intermediary hosting companies to maintain the best internet capacity. These servers give a boost in speed which I could see in my test results. I got an average of 61Mbps when I used servers in the US, France, and Ireland, which is 12 times the amount you need to stream without lag.

It also doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to security, bundling the following in its base package:

  • An optional kill switch to prevent accidental IP address exposure
  • AES 256-bit encryption so your traffic remains hidden
  • SOCKS5 proxy for faster but less secure unblocking

Surprisingly for its size, PrivateVPN offers several optimized streaming servers for platforms around the world. I tested many of them and came away extremely impressed, experiencing minimal buffering and high-quality streams. Below are some of the platforms PrivateVPN can access:

Netflix Amazon Prime Video Hulu Disney+ BBC iPlayer
YouTube ESPN Fox HBO DAZN

The main drawback is its small server network. Depending on the location you need to access, it could lead to difficulty finding a reliable server connection. However, most of the big cities are covered by PrivateVPN — just be sure it caters to your geographical needs before you sign up.

With every PrivateVPN subscription, you can also make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee and try it out risk-free. Once I’d tested PrivateVPN myself, I contacted support by email and requested a refund. (Note that PrivateVPN’s refunds can currently only be processed via email — if you attempt to initiate a refund via live chat you won’t have any luck). The rep got back to me and asked for a reason why, to which I just told them I no longer needed the service. The request was approved shortly after and I got the money back a week later.

PrivateVPN works on: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chromebook, routers, Chrome, Firefox, and more.

7. IPVanish — unlimited Device Connections to Bypass Blocks on All Devices

Key Features:

  • Huge network of 2,200+ servers in 57 countries for one-click reliable connections to unblock content from anywhere
  • Robust and secure encryption, leak protection, and responsive kill switch
  • Unlimited simultaneous device connections
  • 24/7 live chat (starting with a bot), email, and phone
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

You can log into unlimited devices simultaneously with any of IPVanish’s subscriptions. If you want to browse the internet on many devices without worrying about being logged out or losing connection, it’s a great choice. As someone who maintains a 24/7 VPN connection on all of my household’s devices (upwards of 10), it’s an appealing feature for constant peace of mind.

IPVanish is excellent at bypassing anti-VPN technology, including the ones used by several major streaming services. It also has the 3rd-fastest speeds of the VPNs on this list, with an average speed of 70Mbps, making it perfect for high-quality streaming. These are some of the streaming platforms you can access with it:

Netflix US Amazon Prime Video Hulu Disney+ BBC iPlayer
SlingTV ESPN Spotify Vudu Kodi

Some security features of note include:

  • An optional kill switch to prevent accidental IP address exposure
  • AES 256-bit encryption so your traffic remains hidden
  • SOCKS5 proxy gives you extra options in unblocking web content (without encryption)

Like PIA, IPVanish is based in the US. Although it suffered from a data-related scandal while under past ownership, it has thankfully had new owners for a while now. Not only that, but IPVanish’s new owners have carried out multiple independent audits on its no-logs policy.

There is a mix of plans available, from monthly to annual, but the most affordable is the 2-year plan for $3.25/month.

Although IPVanish no longer offers its 1-week free trial, you can still try IPVanish risk-free for 30 days thanks to its money-back guarantee. In a one-up on most major VPNs, you can even get a refund from IPVanish by simply logging in clocking the cancel button in your account settings. No need to contact customer support or wait for any email replies. I tested it myself and can confirm that it works quickly — I got an email confirmation the same day and got a full refund a few days after submitting the request.

IPVanish works on: Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, Chromebook, routers, Chrome, Firefox, and more.

How to Choose the Best VPN to Bypass Content Blocks

This is the criteria I used when choosing the best VPNs for content unblocking:

  • Global server variety — Having a multitude of servers in many countries around the world enables better content access and prevents overcrowded connections.
  • High speeds — So you can maintain a reliable connection while doing anything from basic browsing to streaming high-quality content.
  • Powerful security — A minimum of 256-bit AES encryption keeps your data hidden from any third parties.
  • No-logs policy — None of your VPN traffic should ever be stored by a third party.
  • Fast updates — The team should quickly implement responses to new blocks, such as rotating in fresh IP addresses and deploying the latest circumvention techniques.
  • Customizable connection settings — If a site or service has VPN blocks, you should have easy access to the VPN’s settings to make necessary adjustments.
  • Quality customer service — Live chat should be available at a minimum, with knowlegable reps available by email, and easy-to-follow troubleshooting pages online.

Other Ways to Avoid VPN Blockers

If you’re a bit more technically minded or willing to learn, there are a few slightly advanced methods that you can combine with your VPN to avoid blocks.

SOCKS5 Proxy (Shadowsocks)

Shadowsocks is a web proxy tool built upon the SOCKS5 internet protocol. It was purpose-built to bypass censorship, specifically China’s Great Firewall. Unlike a VPN, Shadowsocks isn’t designed for anonymity but is primarily geared toward bypassing blocks. On the other hand, it’s more lightweight, meaning it offers faster speeds than most VPNs.

The downside of Shadowsocks is that it can be difficult to set up. Thankfully, Private Internet Access comes with Shadowsocks and SOCKS5 as standard, so with just a couple of clicks you can add extra censorship resistance and obfuscation to your connection.

Tor Browser

The Onion Router, commonly known as Tor, is an open-source and free tool that gives you access to a highly anonymous way of browsing the web. Once you’re connected, your traffic is encrypted and sent into the Tor network, where it’s randomly bounced around 3 times between so-called “Nodes” and further encrypted at every bounce. This cleverly hides your real identity from any website or service you’re connecting to, since the link to your original digital identity is severed.

Although Tor is seen as one of the most anonymous ways of going online, it isn’t flawless. For instance, your IP address can be seen by the entry node you connect to (although they can’t connect this to your traffic), and you need to be a lot more careful with how you browse. You can’t use add-ons or plugins, Javascript should stay disabled, and HTTPs needs to be forced across all sites. It’s a much more technical means of going online, but has different benefits to using a VPN alone.

SSH Tunnel

SSH tunneling (also known as SSH port forwarding) can be a great workaround to local VPN blocks. An SSH tunnel can be used to create an encrypted route from your local device to an outside device (such as your home computer from your office). In this manner, traffic that would typically be restricted on your personal device is managed externally, and subsequently, the data is returned to you without any problems. Moreover, it’s convenient to route this traffic through common ports such as 80 or 443, rendering it challenging to obstruct.

SSL/TLS Tunnel

SSL/TLS protocols encrypt your data, and you interact with them constantly when you browse the web (if the website you’re using has a green padlock next to the address, it’s SSL-secured).

Many VPNs have these encryption techniques built in as standard, and can use them to package your traffic in a way that’s hard to identify as coming from a VPN. However, if techniques such as DPI are used, this can be overcome. Using a VPN that invests in bypassing anti-VPN technology is the best way to get around blocks and restrictions.

Access blocked content with ExpressVPN

FAQs on Using a VPN to Bypass Content Blockers

Is streaming copyrighted content with a VPN legal?

Accessing general streaming services with a VPN is perfectly legal, but we don’t recommend you torrent copyrighted content. Even when you use a quality VPN, torrenting copyrighted content may land you in trouble. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some streaming services prohibit the use of a VPN in its Terms of Use, so it’s always wise to check the regulations of the service — and your government — before you stream with a VPN.

How do websites know I’m using a VPN?

Websites use a variety of sophisticated techniques to verify whether traffic is coming from a VPN user or a regular user. The most popular method involves checking your IP address against a list of known VPN-associated IP addresses, and automatically blocking it if it’s present. If you’re connecting on mobile or browser, some apps will recognize a mismatch between your GPS and IP address locations, and realize a VPN is being used.

One of the more complex ways a VPN is detected is through deep packet inspection (DPI). DPI checks the individual packets of web data sent by a VPN and carefully analyzes snippets of metadata to check for signatures of a VPN. DPI can’t decrypt the contents of the traffic, but can at least tell that it’s a VPN at work.

My VPN isn’t unblocking content — what should I do?

If your VPN isn’t unblocking content, it likely means that the service you’re connecting to has detected your VPN. You shouldn’t experience this if you use a top VPN. But, if you still find you’re having issues, here are some tips you can try:

  • Try a different server — A new server will allocate a fresh IP address to you, which hopefully won’t be on a blacklist, and you’ll be good to go.
  • Get a dedicated IP address — You can buy one of these as an add-on from some of the VPNs listed above. You’ll be granted an IP address that only you get access to, significantly reducing the chances of it being tagged as a VPN’s IP.
  • Try a different encryption protocol — Each protocol connects to the web through different ports and uses alternative techniques to mask itself. WireGuard frequently proves itself as a great choice for streaming because of its fast speeds.
  • Contact customer support — IIf you encounter any issues, don’t worry; customer support is available to assist you in resolving the problem. Each VPN mentioned in this article provides live chat support, ensuring quick and efficient troubleshooting.

Can I use a proxy instead of a VPN?

A good proxy can help bypass content blocks, but isn’t as effective or as secure as a VPN. While they work in a similar way to a VPN, a proxy won’t encrypt your data like a VPN does. This means your entire browsing history and online traffic can be seen and logged by any third-parties watching. This could potentially compromise your data and identity security. Use a quality VPN such as the ones recommended in this article to ensure your safety online.

Can I unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and other streaming sites with a VPN?

Yes, a quality VPN will have no issues unblocking a multitude of the most popular streaming sites. In fact, with a premium VPN like ExpressVPN you can connect to various Netflix libraries, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, Kodi add-ons, BBC iPlayer, Sling TV, HBO, Showtime, UKTV, DAZN, ESPN+, and well over 20 other platforms.

Is it possible to bypass VPN blocks on Android and iOS mobile devices?

Yes, most major VPNs (and all the VPNs on this list) offer both Android and iOS apps, plus technology to bypass VPN blocks. This includes automatically choosing the best encryption protocol for the job and frequently adding fresh IP addresses to stay a step ahead of any blacklists. Some VPNs even bundle obfuscation techniques to trick networks and services into thinking that their VPN traffic is regular traffic, ensuring you bypass the blocks every time.

Can Netflix or Amazon Prime Video ban me for using a VPN?

That depends. When you use a top quality VPN, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and other streaming services shouldn’t be able to tell you are watching with a VPN. But these services and other platforms state in their Terms of Use that watching content with a VPN is a breach, and could lead to an account ban.

However, the chances of this scenario occurring are highly unlikely. Nowadays, many individuals rely on VPNs around the clock for enhanced security, and losing a significant number of customers would be an undesirable outcome. Nevertheless, it is advisable to safeguard your account by utilizing one of the recommended VPNs mentioned in this article. This way, you can ensure that your access to the platforms you are subscribed to remains undetected.

Can I use a free VPN to bypass content blocks?

You could use a free VPN to bypass content blocks, but I wouldn’t recommend using them. My team and I have tested the best free VPNs on the market, and while they have their occasional uses, they are too unreliable to effectively work to bypass blocks.

The main issue with free VPNs is that they don’t have the resources to keep up with blocks carried out by major streaming services and other content providers. Even if the team is able to, most free VPNs cap your bandwidth, limit which servers you can connect to, and are generally slow. Experiencing an unexpected disruption in your connection can be quite frustrating. This can result in the loss of valuable data and can disrupt your viewing experience, especially when you’re halfway through an episode. Additionally, persistent lag can impede your enjoyment when you’re trying to enjoy a show.

Free VPNs have also been found to misuse user data, including selling data to advertisers or other third parties in order to make money. You shouldn’t have to expose your personal data to watch your favorite TV show, nor resign yourself to endless buffering and connection errors. Instead, try one of the VPNs in this article, which all come with special offers. You may be surprised to learn you can get a quality VPN for just a couple of dollars a month.

Access Blocked Content With a Reliable VPN

VPN blocks by streaming services, ISPs, workplaces, and more, are not only annoying, but borderline anti-freedom. Fortunately, the right VPN can quickly bypass all kinds of content blocks, so you can focus on spending your time as intended.

My tests found ExpressVPN to be the best VPN for accessing blocked content. With blazing-fast speeds, a large global network of reliable servers, and the right resources and technology, there are few blocks that can stand in its way. You can try ExpressVPN with zero risk thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee. If you’re not satisfied for any reason, you can claim a full refund.


Summary: These Are The Best VPNs for Bypassing Content Blockers in 2022

Top Ranked Top Choice
ExpressVPN
6.67 / month Save 49%
CyberGhost VPN
2.03 / month Save 84%
Private Internet Access
$2.03 / month Save 83%
NordVPN
3.39 / month Save 74%
Surfshark
2.29 / month Save 79%

We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links.

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