Sometimes a move abroad can bring many frustrations, but one frustration is easily avoidable. There’s a brief bullet-point about losing online services in my e-book Sell All Your Stuff and Move Abroad, but this contribution from Thomas Ujj and SmartDNS explains how you can deal with it before it happens to you, so read the stuff below…before it’s too late!!!
Unblock Netflix from Anywhere!
By Thomas Ujj
The process of relocating to another country or becoming a constant traveler is something that would strain even the most travel-hardened veteran. One of the issues for fans of Dexter, Orange is the New Black, and a multitude of other TV series is that they lose access to their Netflix accounts once they leave the U.S.
If you are familiar with various copyright licenses and laws regarding streaming content, you will know that Netflix isn’t available in every country. Netflix has tried to force viewers to adapt to their geo restrictions by purchasing local Netflix in their countries, but only a select few (France, Germany, etc.) have launched their own Netflix service.
The critical issue with those local Netflix services that have emerged so far is that they possess a much smaller catalog than U.S Netflix. What this means is that they often specialize in streaming local content with only some foreign (Hollywood and the like) content mixed in.
So you are probably asking yourself: “How can I survive without watching Orange is the New Black?” There is no need to worry because thankfully there is a solution to these silly geographical restrictions. As JFK famously said: “Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.” These words still ring true and are very much in line with the problem at hand.
Whether you are spending the weekend in Rwanda or moving long-term to Panama, take comfort in knowing that U.S Netflix access is just a few clicks away!
So, you may have heard about certain “VPN” (Virtual Private Network) services before, and while they do work in unblocking geo restricted content, there are two important things to remember:
- Most people forget that a VPN’s primary function is to create a private tunnel between computers to keep your data secure and encrypted.
- Because of reason 1, VPN’s have a slight drop-off in speeds, creating (likely) possible buffer problems when you attempt to stream media.
For the above reasons, there is a better alternative to a VPN service in terms of streaming. This option is called Smart DNS, a relatively new and exciting technology. Smart DNS services offer viewers the ability to stream content without the drop-off in speed that VPN users may experience.
While I won’t get into the technical side of things too much, a brief explanation never hurts. A Smart DNS server acts as a proxy for your computer, projecting its location as yours. It is an easy setup once you sign up with a provider, taking no more than a few minutes to change some internet settings on your PC or another device. A big bonus for streamers is the ability to setup a router to constantly stay connected to the Smart DNS service. This router feature is essential for enabling any devices you have connected to the same network to enjoy the same location settings. This feature is especially useful for any tablets, Smart TV’s, or even smartphones you have laying around.
Smart DNS services average about 4-5$ a month, but multiple services offer a plethora of free trials and discounts to take down that price. To take a look at some of the best services and which one might be right for you, check out SmartDNS.com.
Keep in mind that you still will have to have a paid subscription to the streaming service that you want to use but thankfully, there are also various ways around this.
Once you enable your Smart DNS service, you will still need a U.S-based credit card to sign up for Netflix (or the service you wish to use). You can bypass this by signing up using a modified version of your zip code. You can check if “your zip code” is valid using the USPS ZIP Code Lookup Tool. For example, if your real zip code is 1125, using only the numbers(1125) from the zip code, add zeroes until you have a five digit zip code (in this case 11250). Check if it is valid using the tool and if it isn’t good right away, keep adding 1 to the end till you are successful (the example worked at 11251). The USPS tool will also display your city and state (in the example’s case Brooklyn, New York), which you will need to sign up.
Another way to sign up for these services is to make a U.S PayPal account. This method is also only possible after setting up a Smart DNS service, just follow the zip code tip mentioned in the last paragraph when signing up.
So that’s it! The best way to unblock U.S Netflix (or other streaming services) when you’re traveling the globe. This method will also work anywhere you may be traveling, so keep that mind when going to any parts of the world.
Thomas Ujj is an expat/traveler and IT enthusiast with a passion for security and privacy. When he isn’t planning his next trip, he likes to take time to practice his Italian cooking as well as religiously watching Italian football team AS Roma. Unfortunately, cooking and watching football games doesn’t always equal paychecks, so he writes for SmartDNS.com as well.
Some sound advice from the people at SmartDNS. I’ve experienced the PayPal issue myself, as have others, so this service is definitely something that can make life easier after moving abroad!