YouTube is one of the largest video streaming websites in the world and by several metrics, the second largest website in the world based on website traffic numbers. It’s also a common target for content blocking efforts due to geographic content restrictions and some government interventions in countries like China and Iran.
If you want to access every YouTube video available on the web, a VPN will help you unblock videos that would normally be available to you elsewhere. You can even unblock YouTube on almost any device you use to stream, including desktop computers and mobile devices like Android smartphones and iPhones.
Use a VPN to Unblock YouTube’s Site and Videos
Content blocking is an all-too-common problem when it comes to streaming video sites. Paid services like Netflix employ geographic content blocking to ensure certain videos can only be viewed in select countries.
However, even free services like YouTube are often bound to comply with the wishes of content providers who don’t want viewers outside of certain regions to view their videos.
In addition, because it focuses heavily on user-uploaded content, YouTube is actually blocked outright in several countries. Although China has the largest number of people in the world, those living and or traveling to China cannot enjoy YouTube’s content easily due to that country banning YouTube altogether.
Iran and North Korea also ban YouTube’s site, while other countries, such as Germany, Brazil, Finland, Morocco, Russia, and many more, have either blocked YouTube in the past or have placed restrictions on certain videos that were released and uploaded onto the platform.
However, regardless of where you are in the world if YouTube or any videos are blocked, a virtual private network, or VPN, can let you bypass any and all restrictions on videos or the entire YouTube site.
How Do VPNs Work to Bypass YouTube Blocks?
When you connect to the internet, your computer, laptop, mobile device, or tablet is assigned what’s known as an IP address. This is like a physical address that tells the internet where in the world your device is located.
In countries where YouTube or its videos are blocked, either your ISP disallows you to access the site, or YouTube’s own content filters are used to determine your location and block you from accessing certain videos.
However, a VPN connects you securely to the internet through a private, encrypted “tunnel” and connects you directly to an internet server in a different country.
Your web traffic is encrypted, and you get a new IP address from the VPN server, making it look like you’re actually in that country, and connecting from a real computer.
So if you’re in China and connect via VPN to a server in the United States, the ISP or government agency trying to block you in China won’t be able to do so. They’ll be able to see that you’re connected to the internet, but not where you’re going, and will be unable to read (and therefore unable to block) your connection. All they will see is the passage of data back and forth to the VPN server, but not what that data actually contains.
This also works for unblocking videos that happen to have geographic content restrictions due to licensing agreements.
YouTube won’t be able to tell where you’re connecting in from. To them, it will appear as if you’re located in the region where the video’s stream is allowed, letting you view that content without interruption.
ExpressVPN Works to Unblock YouTube on Any Device
So which VPN service will work to unblock YouTube? Our suggestion is ExpressVPN.
ExpressVPN is currently the most popular VPN internationally because it works out-of-the-box, no setup needed. All you need to do is download the software onto the device you plan to use for YouTube streaming, connect to a VPN in the country where your desired YouTube are freely available, then connect.
This VPN service utilizes high-level, military-grade encryption standards that easily avoid detection and secure your identity when connected. Additionally, because they employ various VPN technologies across their servers, ExpressVPN is capable of fully unblocking YouTube across the globe.
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Benefits of ExpressVPN for YouTube
Beyond working well to unblock YouTube anywhere, ExpressVPN has several features that make it a good option to unblock content.
First, you’ll find that ExpressVPN has an app for most devices you might use. You can download and install ExpressVPN on Windows, Mac, Amazon Fire TV devices, as well as iOS and Android devices.
Next, we like ExpressVPN because it has the infrastructure to effectively support YouTube users who need access to unblock content from around the world. ExpressVPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries. That includes 160 VPN locations, so you can connect to multiple cities within several of the countries where VPN servers are located, and find the fastest server for you.
You will also find that ExpressVPN utilizes multiple features and security measures to ensure user anonymity on the web, including a strict no-logs policy designed to ensure that information on your browsing habits can never be obtained by ISPs or government agencies.
How to Install and Setup ExpressVPN (Desktop Version)
It’s easy to set up and install ExpressVPN on any device. Let’s walk through how to get the service activated on your desktop or laptop computer. Once you’ve completed this process, all you will need to do is download the app version of ExpressVPN for any mobile or streaming device and log in to your account.
Step 1: Purchase your subscription and signup for an account
You’ll first want to head over to ExpressVPN’s signup page. From there, you can choose the subscription package that best fits your needs.
ExpressVPN has three options for new subscribers: a monthly, 6-month, or 12-month package. Signing up for a longer term offers steeper discounts, but it may not be worth it if you only need the VPN for a short time. Regardless of which option you opt for, however, ExpressVPN provides a 30-day money-back guarantee with any subscription.
The company provides discounts if you sign up for longer terms. As of this time or writing, it offers:
- Monthly subscription for $12.95/month
- 6-month subscription billed at $59.95 (the equivalent of $9.99 per month)
- 12-month subscription billed at $99.95 (the equivalent of $8.32 per month)
Step 2: Choose email and payment method
Once you’ve picked a subscription option, you’ll need to provide ExpressVPN with an email for your service and choose a payment method.
You can use any email you want with ExpressVPN. Your email address is ultimately only needed to send you a confirmation for payment and to finalize the download process, so you can use a throwaway account if you need to, and are concerned about privacy.
Finally, you will need to choose a payment method. ExpressVPN accepts most payment options including credit cards, payment services like PayPal, and even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Step 3: Obtain your activation code and download your software
Once you’ve successfully paid and signed up, you will get an email that takes you to your account sign-in page. You can also sign in using the credentials you created during the signup process.
From there, locate the download link for your operating system. Download the file to a location where you can easily locate it.
ExpressVPN will also come with an activation code, that you can find on your account page. You will need this activation code later, so either keep the page open or copy the code for when you run the installation program.
Step 4: Install your ExpressVPN software
Next, locate where you saved ExpressVPN and double-click the name of the installation file to begin the installation process.
The software installer will walk you through the process. You will be asked to let the program make changes to your computer, which you should “Allow”. Additionally, you will need to enter your activation code.
Once you’ve entered your activation code, ExpressVPN will automatically log in to your account without the need for you to input username and password.
Step 5: Using ExpressVPN for the first time
Now that you have the software installed and logged in, you just need to connect to a server that will allow you to access blocked content.
Let’s say that you’re in Australia and want to view content from BBC America’s YouTube page. Normally, this content is completely blocked for you:
However, if you go to your ExpressVPN client and click on “Choose Location”, you can search for, or type in “United States”.
From there, you can connect to a US server and then access the blocked content.
You can employ this same method for any country and any content that you find blocked. Simply load up an ExpressVPN server where the content isn’t blocked, or where YouTube as a site is legally available, and access your content.
How Do I Know Which Country Servers Will Allow Me to View YouTube Content?
One problem you may run into if you’re getting blocked on YouTube is which countries will actually allow you to view a blocked video or channel.
After all, when you get the message that a video is blocked in your country, YouTube doesn’t tell you where it’s actually available – just that it’s not accessible in your own country.
To find out which countries allow different channels and videos on YouTube, try using this YouTube region restriction checker.
The service is simple. Just take the link to the YouTube video that’s showing a content restriction message and enter it into the blank form. Then hit “Submit”.
The site will display a map of countries at the top, and a list of countries where the video is blocked, and where it’s allowed.
If for some reason you find the URL checking website itself is blocked, simply connect to a country where you know you can access it (such as the US or most European countries) and try the link from there.
What To Do When ExpressVPN Isn’t Unblocking YouTube
Part of ExpressVPN’s method to unblock YouTube content and content from other services, such as Netflix, is to keep rotating which servers actually work to unblock streaming websites.
As a result, you might try to connect to any server in a country, only to find that you’re still getting a content blocking message.
If that happens, simply load up the ExpressVPN website and click on the Live Chat option on the bottom of the page. When you open the live chat, a customer service agent will ask for the email address you used to signup for your account, and then inquire about the problem. They will then let you know exactly which server to use.
We’ve found ExpressVPN’s customer service live chat to work extremely well and very fast. If you need immediate attention, it’s the way to go. You can also use their email service, but you should expect a notable delay in response times.
Why Does YouTube Get Blocked?
As a service, YouTube provides a wealth of video content. Everything from cat videos to sports to political commentary can be uploaded to the service. As YouTube’s content is user-driven, it tries to control content submissions as little as possible, mostly employing filters to root out copyright infringement and most pornographic material.
Political and moral restrictions
YouTube exists as a site where freedom of expression is most enjoyed. As a result, many countries that tend to significantly limit free expression and exchange of ideas tend to block YouTube.
China is the most notorious example of this. The country is well known for completely disallowing any social media platform that lets in political opinions that might be critical to the ruling Communist Party and government. And the country also tries to block any content that is deemed against the moral order that the government attempts to impose.
YouTube thus presents a threat to those ideals. China has blocked YouTube for several years now, so those in the country connecting to the site have been forced to use VPNs to get around what’s known as the “Great Firewall of China”.
Blocking YouTube has also been an ongoing practice in countries with strict morality codes. A handful of Middle Eastern countries have employed content blocking at different points, targeting YouTube especially, although at present this is not happening in any of those countries.
Country-specific licensing agreements
Beyond YouTube being blocked for political reasons, content licensing agreements have resulted in some content getting blocked in different countries.
Many content providers will only allow their content to be shown in specific countries. When anyone uploads a video on YouTube, they can choose which countries it can be shown in, and YouTube’s content filters will automatically block that content from internet connections that do not meet that criteria.
Bypassing these content restrictions is legal, however, so using a VPN like ExpressVPN should allow you to legally get around such roadblocks.