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Country Restrictions: How do Geoblocks Work?

You’re on vacation, far from home, and sitting down at your computer to catch up on your Netflix account. Or maybe tune into the BBC iPlayer to watch some Dr. Who. Or you could be one of many people trying to watch content on Hulu. Either way, you wind up with a geoblock screen that looks like this: how do geoblocks work Not available in your country ‘yet!’ So how do geoblocks work, how are they used, and how can you possibly get around them? Fear not, by the end of this article I’ll teach you ways to get your Tv and movie content that’s being blocked back!

How do geoblocks work?

Every computer that connects to the Internet has a unique number that identifies it. This is called the IP address. You can learn your own IP address using this tool over here on our website if you’re curious to see your own IP address. Every time you visit a website the server for that website is sent your IP address. Why? So that the server knows where it has to send its information. It’s like how you can’t mail a letter to someone without knowing their street address. Your IP address comes from your Internet service provider – the company you buy Internet access from. While there nothing all that special about one IP address, they can be used to show your location in the world. This is done easily through databases which track IP addresses by country. Once someone knows your IP address they can track where you are pretty easily.

How are IP addresses used with geoblocks?

Here’s the funny thing about the world: It’s divided up these imaginary lines, and powerful people tell us they matter. Most of the time it’s because they own certain things within those borders, like power, and you. Geoblocks are this concept taken to the Internet. Most of the time, it’s people with copyrights who are too lazy to work out deals with other countries. Other times it is competitive issues between companies who say they own a certain territory’s media, and don’t allow for competition. You can also come across this with online retailers. From one country you may only have to pay $10 for an item. But when you access the same website from another country it becomes $15! Plus shipping! The number of complicated tax and import charges here can be plenty, but they’re there costing you money because imaginary lines drawn on the globe say so. Either way, when you connect to a server from outside of their list of allowed IP address/countries, they block you. Even if you’re a paying member of Netflix just off on vacation. Even if you’re a lifelong fan of a sport’s team, but have moved to another country (ahem).

How to get around geoblocks and access blocked content

The key here on how geoblocks work is the IP address of your computer. The simple thing to do is to change your IP address. Easily said, but how easy is it to change your IP address? If you use a VPN it can be VERY easy! thumbs upThe trick with a VPN is that it connects you to another server, and you take its IP address. Now when you connect to Netflix you can be on a server in the USA and Netflix will let you watch whatever you want. A great VPN provider will allow you to connect securely, and with a fast connection, to many different countries. We’ve looked at this in our best VPNs for geoblocks review. You can check their for a list of VPN providers that are sure to get you on the right track. The use of VPNs to get around geoblocks is, at best, a legally gray area. I’m not here saying go and do something illegal …but if you need to get around geoblocks for research, or to access entertainment you’ve paid for, a VPN is your best way to do it.   Feature image via Geralt

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