If you enjoy cable-free TV, you know how important it is to have a VPN. A VPN allows you to bypass geographic restrictions and watch your favorite shows and movies from anywhere in the world.
But with so many VPNs on the market, how do you choose the right one for you? In this blog post, we will compare the most popular VPNs and help you decide which one is right for you. We'll also teach you how to set up a VPN and show you some of the best ways to use it. And finally, we'll answer the question of whether or not VPNs are legal.
What is a VPN?
A virtual private network or VPN is an integral security tool for all internet activity. It refers to an encrypted server or network of servers in various locations. The idea is to route your internet traffic via the protected server to boost your internet privacy.
You connect to a VPN with special software that's necessary to install on the desired device. The software routes your traffic to the chosen server, which encrypts your browsing and personal info. Thanks to that, no one can get ahold of information about your internet activity, location, or identity.
What are the main benefits of using a VPN?
Before we get into the specific advantages of streaming content, such as using a VPN to watch BBC iPlayer outside of the UK, let's talk about the overall benefits of using a virtual private network.
Even if you don't plan to watch live TV, here's why it's important to use a VPN:
- Mask your IP address. It'll protect your location from ending up in unwanted hands, which is an integral part of staying safe on the web.
- Encrypt your internet activity. Protective algorithms encrypt your traffic to prevent third parties from learning about your web activity. It's how you can stop those customized ads you often see targeting your interests.
- Bypass geographic restrictions. You can unblock Hulu anywhere in the world, as well as bypass any restrictions and access the desired websites regardless of your location.
How does a VPN stream content?
VPN for streaming content isn't any different than using these networks for other internet activities. Since VPNs route all your traffic via another server, streaming platforms "think" you are from the chosen virtual location.
So, if you pick a server from the United States, you can trick the platform into thinking you are accessing from this country. For example, you can use this to watch ABC online outside of the US. The content you stream would be rerouted through the chosen server while masking your IP address and keeping your internet browsing info safe.
Why you should use a VPN to stream content
VPNs have specific benefits for those who enjoy watching videos online, and those include the following:
- Uncompromised video quality. Many ISPs monitor your internet use, and if they estimate you are using too much data, they often limit the bandwidth. But ISPs can't keep track of your data usage if you have a VPN. That means you can always watch your favorite TV shows and movies in the highest resolution.
- Stay safe while watching on shared networks. You are waiting for a flight at the airport and found an exciting show in our TV guide. Thanks to VPN, you can connect to any public hotspot safely and use it to access Sling TV or similar streaming services.
- Connect to servers from many countries. Let's say you joined a streaming service like Netflix, but the title you want to watch isn't on the platform. If you know that the provider has it available in the US, use a VPN to watch localized content for that market. For example, our guide on unblocking American Netflix in Canada shows the steps for this country, but the process is similar to most other countries.
Should you use a free or premium VPN to stream content?
Free and premium VPNs are both capable of bypassing geographic restrictions. However, there are reasons why you should go with premium networks for streaming content. Whether you want to get US Netflix in the UK or access any other streaming service, using a premium VPN will ensure the following benefits:
- Fast and reliable connections. There are no limited bandwidth or connection losses that would ruin your viewing experience. Instead, you can enjoy streaming at the highest quality.
- A bigger number of servers are available. Free VPNs often come with only a few servers, while premium networks have hundreds in different countries.
- Improved security. IP masking and not tracking your internet activity are only the beginning. Premium VPNs also use advanced encryptions to keep you safe while browsing.
What are the most popular VPNs on the market?
If you set your mind on using a VPN, it's time to pick the desired provider. We'll list the most popular market options that offer internet with no borders. Here's what VPNs to consider to stream live TV and videos on demand!
ExpressVPN is available on a wide range of devices. That includes anything from Windows and Mac to gaming consoles and smart TVs. The TrustedServer technology used guarantees there's no data stored when you are using the web. If your VPN connection drops, which rarely happens, the kill switch will block all traffic to keep you safe.
The platform has advanced AESW-256 encryption and uses a Lightway protocol for a fast and reliable VPN experience. ExpressVPN has hundreds of servers across over 90 countries. That's a bigger number of countries covered than NordVPN. You can check our ExpressVPN vs. NordVPN comparison to learn more about these two platforms.
NordVPN was launched in 2012, indicating it's been in the market for over a decade. It has next-generation encryption that's among the most advanced in the industry. NordVPN will change your IP twice to maximize online protection. The company has a strict no-logs policy to ensure they don't collect or share your data. You can use a private DNS to protect your data and even use a DNS leak test to ensure there are no data leaks.
Apart from the VPN, the company launched a Threat Protection feature. It's a monitoring tool that will help make smarter moves while browsing online. You don't have to worry about intrusive ads or downloading malware since this feature will handle these problems for you before they do any actual damage.
NordVPN has over 5,400 servers in 59 countries across multiple continents. It will be enough to unlock Amazon Prime Video or any other streaming service anywhere in the world.
IPVanish has around 2,000 servers in over 75 different locations. They've been in the business for over a decade and now use the WireGuard VPN protocol. Thanks to it, IPVanish secures a strong and fast connection offered by a premium industry solution.
You can install IPVanish on Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and other devices. Unmetered connections with no tracking or limits are available with all premium packages. You can pick between monthly, quarterly and yearly plans, and the last one comes with a money-back guarantee.
The WireGuard protocol is the option chosen by StrongVPN, too. The platform promises zero logging, which is nothing less than expected from a premium VPN provider. It has about 950 servers across 30 countries. It's not impressive, but all the major locations are there.
StrongVPN allows connecting up to 12 devices simultaneously with a single account. That ensures you can unblock streaming on iPhones and other devices used in your household. As for device support, you can use StrongVPN on PCs, Mac, iOS, Fire TV, etc.
VyprVPN secures fast and reliable connections with unparalleled security and advanced features like DNS Leak Protection. The platform's servers are available in over 75 countries, and they all use the WireGuard protocol.
If you are an advanced user, you can use Split Tunneling. It enables streaming video content with a VPN while using the internet with your default internet connection. VyprVPN has a kill switch to protect your connection if the VPN server drops. If necessary, you can contact customer support around the clock.
PIA or Private Internet Access offers everything you'd expect from a premium VPN. That ensures hiding your IP address and protecting your internet traffic by encrypting information. The US-based VPN provider offers a dedicated IP address that only you would use.
The company uses the golden protection standard – the WIreGuard protocol. You get malware and ad blocking, as well as advanced split tunneling as the basic feature with each premium package. PIA's apps are open-source, which is an excellent indicator they have nothing to hide.
PureVPN uses 256-bit military-grade encryption to keep your information safe while browsing the web, making it a great choice when using public hotspots. A kill switch that stops all traffic if you lose A VPN connection will ensure you stay safe, especially when using a VPN to bypass geographic restrictions, such as unblocking YouTube in China.
IP masking, DNS Leak and IPv6 Leak protection are among the basic features. PureVPN also has paid add-ons for DDoS protection or using a dedicated IP address, which can increase the service's cost.
How do you set up a VPN?
The first step is to choose a VPN that fits your expectations. For example, you might be looking for VPNs that work with US Netflix. It's all about your preferences since VPNs use a similar working process.
Here are the steps to follow to stream content with a VPN:
- Register with the desired VPN service. If you use a premium provider, it's necessary to subscribe.
- Download the VPN software. Each provider has a specialized tool that you can download from their website or respective app stores. Most VPNs are available on PCs, laptops, Android and iOS portable devices.
- Install the software and access your account. After installing, use the credentials given during the registration to access your profile.
- Choose the desired server. Premium VPNs often have hundreds of servers available, ensuring you can watch Sling TV anywhere outside the US, as well as access any other platform or website.
- Pick the platform and enjoy live streaming. Don't forget to confirm you are connected to a VPN first, and then browse the internet as usual.
Is using a VPN legal?
The answer to this isn’t so straightforward; it’s both yes and no. Depending on where you live, they might technically be illegal. Since VPNs work by masking your IP address, certain governments tend to take issue with that.
So, let’s check out whether or not VPNs are legal in your country.
VPNs in the US are Legal
If you’re living in the US, well, you’re in luck. There’s no restriction about using VPNs in the US, regardless of which state you’re living in. Regardless of use, you get to enjoy your VPN-filled life. Need less lag for the game you’re playing? No worries, just use the VPN to switch your IP to a country closer to where the game hosts its servers.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to watch some content on your favorite streaming platform? No worries. All you need to do is do a quick Google search for which country currently hosts the series or movie you’re looking to watch. After that, just switch on your VPN to the best server in the aforementioned country—then you’re good to go.
If you’re living in the US, you have nothing to worry about regarding VPNs.
VPNs in Certain Countries are Illegal
On the other hand, if you’re living in China—you’re out of luck. The Chinese government outlaws the use of VPNs. Because their ISPs (Internet Service Providers) block certain websites (Google, Youtube, and Facebook, to name a few), a VPN can bypass these region blocks. Therefore, the government restricts VPN usage.
Other countries that restrict VPN usage include Russia, the UAE, Belarus, Oman, North Korea, and Iraq.
Do Streaming Platforms Restrict VPN Usage?
There’s a complicated relationship when it comes to VPNs and streaming services. For instance, Netflix has restrictions to try and stop VPNs from working.
However, there’s no strict policy against using a VPN. So, if your preferred VPN can bypass the Netflix restrictions, you’re free to enjoy all your geo-blocked content. In addition, you won’t get your account banned for using a VPN.
However, there’s a catch: low-quality VPNs cannot bypass streaming platform restrictions. So, if you’re on a VPN that comes preinstalled with a browser, you’re probably unable to ignore geo-blocking. But a high-quality VPN won’t give you any issues.
A good VPN can easily access all geo-blocked content. Then, if you’re interested in watching every movie or series you desire, investing in a high-quality VPN can get you what you need.
Our take: Pick a VPN that will cater to your needs
Using a VPN is a great way to watch your favorite shows and movies from anywhere in the world. But with so many VPNs on the market, it's important to choose the right one for you.
You can't go wrong if you pick ExpressVPN, with servers from over 90 countries available in its premium packages. NordVPN is also an excellent choice, which has been serving users worldwide for over a decade. Most platforms, such as StrongVPN, support streaming on multiple devices with a single VPN account. It maximizes value for money, just like the impressive device support offered by IPVanish.
Ultimately, it's all about your preferences. Consider the features you need the most, such as split tunneling or a dedicated IP address. You can use VPNs to stream anything from CBC in the United States to American Netflix in Australia. And whether streaming videos, visiting social media, or browsing other sites, VPNs keep your information encrypted and safe from cybercriminals. That makes these networks a valuable investment, so don't hesitate to give them a chance!
Aneeca Younas • Author
Aneeca Younas is a graduated journalist with years of experience writing in different niches based in Oakland, CA. She is a huge movie fan that also enjoys watching sports. That's why she spends hours daily using various streaming services. Over the years, Aneeca profiled herself as an expert in cable-free and VOD platforms.
Kelsey Reynolds • Editor
Kelsey is a content strategist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota. Kelsey was drawn to working at Flixed because the team was so open, motivated, and curious. She most enjoys thinking about how to blend programmatic and editorial content to answer readers’ questions as completely and efficiently as possible. When she’s not at her computer, Kelsey can usually be found working in her garden or walking her two dogs in the park.