VPNs are an important digital security tool for political activists, journalists, and security researchers, but they’re now popular among general internet users thanks to the increased privacy they offer — and because they let you access region-locked content.
How to VPNs work?
If you’re completely new to the world of VPNs, the basic premise is this: VPNs hide personally-identifying information like your IP address, location, and internet browsing data from anyone who tracks you online. This includes your internet service provider, advertisers, websites, governments, and even other private users on the same networks. VPNs port your connection through proxy servers located in other countries that mask your true location, and it’s through these proxy connections that you can trick websites and streaming apps into thinking you live in a different part of the world.
Can you use a VPN to watch region-locked content?
Setting up a VPN to watch international Netflix (or Hulu, YouTube, and other streamers) is super easy — assuming using a VPN is legal in your country. VPNs are legal in the US, but you should check your local laws if you live elsewhere or plan to travel.
What kind of VPN should I use to watch international Netflix?
With that legal note out of the way, the first step is to find a suitable VPN. There are tons of VPNs out there, and some are better (and more trustworthy) than others. But if watching region-locked content is the sole reason you’re using a VPN, you really just need to ensure your VPN meet two criteria:
- It’s a no-log VPN, meaning it doesn’t store connection data or personal information.
- Allows you to select proxy servers in the country or region with content you want to access.
Most of the popular paid VPN services — including NordVPN and Surfshark — match the above criteria and are fine if you just want to watch, say, Japanese Netflix. If you need stricter privacy, however, I suggest Mullvad VPN since it’s open source, stores far less information than most other VPNs, and has servers in 38 countries. Whatever you do, I generally recommend avoiding “free” VPNs since most aren’t secure and leak your data, are stuffed with ads, or even completely fake programs that will infect your devices with malware.
Once you have a suitable VPN installed on your device, all you need to do is select your proxy location. The steps to do this will differ between VPN apps, but most offer the option when you connect. Once you’re connected to the proxy server, just load up the streaming website you want to watch, and you should be good to go.