For a long time, Unlocator and other Smart DNS services were often used by cord-cutters in order to access “geo-locked” content. By using Unlocator or another Smart DNS program, cord-cutters could access content libraries that were usually only available in other countries (most often, the US).
But streaming companies have caught on. Simple Smart DNS masking is no longer enough to get you into the American Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, or any number of other popular streaming services. Instead, you need to use an Unlocator alternative like a VPN to mask your location.
In this article, we’ll take a look at a few of your best options for Unlocator alternatives. Whether you’re a British expat in America looking to watch the BBC iPlayer, or a U.S. citizen abroad trying to get American Netflix, this guide is sure to help.
The Best Alternatives To Unlocator
Now that you understand the basic differences between VPNs and Smart DNS services like Unlocator, it’s time to go over our best recommendations for Unlocator alternatives.
ExpressVPN is one of the largest and most widely-used VPN services, especially by people living in countries such as China, where it’s often difficult to find a VPN that works.
ExpressVPN is notable primarily because their VPN architecture allows them to avoid most detection software used by streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. This means that you’ll be able to switch your geographical location and easily stream content using ExpressVPN.
What we like
ExpressVPN has a number of features that make it a great alternative to Unlocator. With a total of over 1500 VPN servers, and 148 different VPN locations (with 30+ in the US), you can be sure that you’ll be able to access content from just about anywhere in the world.
ExpressVPN also allows you to use your login on up to 3 devices at once, which is nice if you’re looking to use it on your phone, tablet, and computer, or any other devices. ExpressVPN supports Windows, Apple, Linux, and iOS/Android, as well as quite a few modern routers with a bit of setup.
ExpressVPN also has a strict no-logs policy, which is very important. You should never sign up with any VPN that does not have a no-logs policy, because these VPNs could be saving your information and selling it, or sharing it with unauthorized third parties.
You can also buy your subscription with Bitcoin, which is a nice feature for those who do not want to share their credit card information with a VPN service.
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What we don’t like
ExpressVPN is somewhat more expensive than other choices on our list, such as Private Internet Access. You’ll pay around $13 monthly for the service. You also have the option to purchase a 6-month subscription for $10/month, or a yearlong subscription for a total of $99.95.
In addition, it is sometimes hard to know which VPN servers will unblock Netflix, so you may need to contact customer service to find out. Finally, this VPN lacks some advanced customization features, but this is not really a big deal for most end users.
VyprVPN is one of the newer VPN services on the market. It has a relatively good number of serves, and a unique obfuscation method called “Chameleon” that is intended specifically to obscure traffic from websites like Netflix and Hulu, in order to allow users to access geo-locked content.
What we like
The Chameleon obfuscation feature is a great feature of VyprVPN. Essentially, obfuscation works by scrambling data in your connection, to prevent your VPN usage from being detected by a DPI (Deep Packet Inspection) filter. What does this all mean for you? In our tests, it worked like a charm, and we had no problem accessing website like Hulu and Netflix, which typically try to block VPN traffic.
Beyond this feature, VyprVPN has all of the other features you’d want in a VPN. There’s a no-logs policy in place, 700 servers in 70 countries, and plenty of different VPN security and encryption standards to choose from, should you wish to modify its performance and functionality.
What we don’t like
VyprVPN has a really short trial period. You can only try the service out for 3 days for free, which is really limiting. You’ll probably want more time than that to try out the service.
It also has fewer servers and available countries available compared to some competitors, such as ExpressVPN.
It’s also a bit expensive, especially if you want the Chameleon protocol, which is only provided in VyperVPN Premium.
A baseline subscription to VyprVPN costs $5.00/month if you pay annually, or $9.95 per month if you choose to pay monthly. Premium will cost you even more, at $6.67 per month for an annual subscription, or $12.95/month for a month-to-month subscription.
Still, VyprVPN offers great performance, and Chameleon ensures unfettered access to just about every geo-restricted website, including Netflix and Hulu.
StrongVPN is a fully-featured, robust VPN which can be used to unblock both Hulu and Netflix, and is a popular choice for users behind the Great Firewall of China. With great security and a simplified UI, it’s a good alternative to Unlocator.
What we like
StrongVPN uses advanced obfuscation technology to stay a step ahead of companies like Hulu and Netflix and keep content unblocked for users. The service is also noted for its stellar security features. Unlike some other VPNs, it no longer supports the outdated and unsecure PPTP protocol, and supports a half-dozen other secure protocols including IPSec, SSTP and L2TP.
StrongVPN also has a simple UI, and is easy to set up and use, with automatic connection features, a “kill switch” that turns off your connection if your VPN fails, and other top-of-the-line options.
The price is pretty good, too. You’ll pay $10/month if you choose a monthly subscription, but if you subscribe for a full year, you’ll only pay $69.99, which works out to $5.83 per month. It would be nice if there was a 3-month or 6-month subscription available, though.
Of course, StrongVPN does not keep logs of web activity, ensuring that your browsing history is safe from anyone looking to snoop on your activities.
What we don’t like
StrongVPN has a limited number of servers, locations, and countries. You can only connect to 650 servers, located in a total of 26 countries and 46 cities. This is fewer than other picks like ExpressVPN and private Internet Access.
In addition, StrongVPN has some speed issues that may cause buffering and other connectivity problems during high-bandwidth activities.
Finally, StrongVPN has few options for manual configuration, so if you like to tinker with your VPN, this is probably not the product for you. Its minimalist UI and interface make it hard to customize.
NordVPN consistently earns some of the best reviews among VPNs, due to its simplified design, reasonable pricing, and good features.
What we like
NordVPN is very reasonably priced, as long as you purchase a longer-term subscription. You’ll pay $12/month for a monthly plan, but if you choose a 2 year plan, the cost drops to $3.29/month, and a 3 year plan comes in at an incredible $2.75/month.
If you choose the 3-year plan, this is definitely the cheapest plan on our list. However, we would recommend trying the service for at least a month before doing so, as you don’t want to be stuck with a subscription to a VPN you don’t like.
You get a lot for your money, too. NordVPN has more than 4,300 total servers in 62 countries, including nearly 2,000 in the Americas alone. It also has specialized servers that are built for P2P file sharing, obfuscation, anti-DDOS, and more, allowing for solid performance. You can even purchase static IP addresses for $70.
You can also have up to six devices connected simultaneously, making it great for larger households, or multi-device users.
Other features include blocking of malicious web threats and advertisements, as well as apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, macOS, Chrome, and Firefox.
What we don’t like
NordVPN only has a 3-day free trial. Some other services out there offer a free trial for a week or more, so this is pretty limiting. You do get a 30-day money back guarantee, though.
NordVPN also can have some slowdown issues when streaming HD video or downloading large files.
Finally, though the company is registered in Panama, it’s unclear who runs it, which may make some security-focused VPN users uneasy.
VPNs and Smart DNS Services – What’s the Difference?
You may be wondering what, exactly, the difference is between a VPN and a Smart DNS service such as Unlocator. Before we start discussing the best alternatives to Unlocator, let’s begin with a simple explanation.
Smart DNS services are unsecured, but provide fast connections
Smart DNS services became popular for streaming online content because they are easy to set up, and do not typically affect the speed of your connection.
DNS stands for Domain Network Service. A DNS helps locate domain names and translate them into IP addresses, allowing for access to the internet.
A Smart DNS service works by rerouting traffic that is used to determine your geographical location, and essentially “tricking” a webpage into thinking that you’re connecting from a different country, by connecting to a DNS.
Contrary to popular belief, Smart DNS services like Unlocator do not provide any kind of encryption, nor do they hide your IP address. This means that they are quite simple to recognize, and that’s why most streaming services like Netflix and Hulu now block Smart DNS tools. They can still recognize your original IP, so they know that you are not actually connecting from the country specified by your Smart DNS service.
That’s why VPN services are a better choice for unblocking content such as the BBC iPlayer or American Netflix. They are harder to recognize.
VPNs protect your IP and encrypt your traffic for maximum protection
If you are looking for an Unlocator alternative, a VPN is always going to be your best bet. VPNs are different from Smart DNS services in a few important ways.
VPNs work by taking all of your web traffic, encrypting it, and sending it through an IPV4 or IPV6 “tunnel” to a “virtual” connection coming out of a server in another country. Hence, the name “Virtual Private Network”, or VPN.
Unlike a Smart DNS, this means that all of your traffic is completely encrypted and safe from snooping by public authorities or streaming companies. In addition, because your IP address is also masked and changed, it’s harder for a webpage to distinguish between a virtual connection and a “normal” connection.
If you are interested in watching content from other countries, a VPN is a much better choice. While services like Netflix keep trying to block VPNs, many VPN providers are already ahead of them, and offer special services that “scramble” your connection and allow you to easily access geo-restricted content.
The only real drawback to a VPN is that it can sometimes slow down your internet connection. All of your traffic must be encrypted, sent to a virtual server, sent to the website you’re accessing, and then sent back to you, which means longer page loading times and download times.
However, a VPN is still the best alternative to Unlocator, and most VPNs offer services that help mitigate bandwidth slowdown.
Why Can’t I Access Netflix, Hulu, or Another Streaming Site With My VPN?
Chances are, that specific server has been blocked by the streaming service. Netflix and other streaming sites, in an attempt to make more money, are constantly trying to stop users in other countries from accessing their content.
Though most of these services work with Netflix and other streaming video sites, it’s not guaranteed. You may need to try several servers to find one that is not blocked, or you may want to consider emailing or calling your respective customer support hotline to see which servers should be used to access streaming video.