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How to watch blocked YouTube videos

Posted on December 5th, 2021 by in How-to.

YouTube geoblocks videos. You can use ProtonVPN to unblock YouTube videos.

 

YouTube is a global platform that attracts over two billion unique users every month from all around the world. Unfortunately, this does not mean that everyone can access every video on YouTube. 

Depending on the country you are in, certain videos are blocked. This is because YouTube uses your location (tagged by your IP address) to determine which videos you can watch. This is called geoblocking or geo-restricting. 

If you have tried to use YouTube while on vacation or living abroad, you will likely be familiar with YouTube’s geo-restriction error message, “The uploader has not made this video available in your country” that occasionally pops up when you try to access videos you watch in your home country.

YouTube geoblocks content.

However, as with other types of geo-restrictions, there are ways to unblock YouTube videos and enjoy all the content on the platform.

Why are videos blocked on YouTube?

There are generally two reasons why YouTube geo-blocks content:

  1. Licensing: This typically happens with entertainment material owned by a major company. The video’s owner either has chosen to restrict access to a limited number of countries or does not have the right to share the video in specific countries. Many music videos fall under licensing restrictions, like Wiz Khalifa’s official video for Black and Yellow, which is blocked in most of Africa and parts of Central America and the Caribbean.  
  2. Complying with local laws: YouTube sometimes blocks a video if it violates local law. For example, it is illegal in Thailand to insult the Thai monarch, so videos critical of the Thai king are blocked within the country. 

At Proton, we believe that the internet is best when you have the freedom to express yourself and exchange ideas. This freedom is undermined when corporations like YouTube impose geoblocks on content. Proton VPN is a firm defender of freedom of speech, and we condemn online censorship in all its forms.

How to unblock YouTube videos

The fastest, easiest, and most reliable way to unblock YouTube videos is to use a VPN. Using a VPN lets you connect to a server in another country and change your IP address to make it appear to YouTube that you are watching videos from that country. By connecting to a server in a country where the videos you want to watch are not blocked, you can successfully bypass geo-restrictions on all YouTube videos.

  1. To watch a blocked YouTube video using a VPN, you will first need to sign up for a trustworthy VPN. You can sign up for Proton VPN here.
  2. You then need to download and install the VPN app on your device. You can download Proton VPN here, which will allow you to unblock YouTube videos on your mobile and desktop devices or even on your Android TV.
  3. Once you have installed the VPN app, you need to log in and connect to a VPN server in a country where the video you want to watch is not blocked. 
  4. You can now watch all the YouTube videos that are not blocked in that country.

Depending on the video, it may be obvious which countries it is available in, or you may need to try a few different locations to find one that works. For example, Saturday Night Live (SNL) is an American television show that geoblocks its most recent videos on YouTube for anyone outside of the US. As you would expect, connecting to a US server will make those videos available. However, it may not always be so obvious which country you need to choose to unlock a specific YouTube video.

YouTube blocked screen on SNL video

Using SNL as an example, you can see the extent to which some YouTube channels geoblock their content by looking at how many more videos are available when connected to a VPN server in the US.

snl-youtube-channel-nigeria
SNL YouTube channel as seen in Nigeria
SNL YouTube channel as seen in the US

Why unblock YouTube with a VPN?

By using a trustworthy and secure VPN to unblock YouTube videos, you are also masking your IP address from your internet service provider and keeping your online activity private. Using a VPN to unblock YouTube videos is also much safer and more reliable than using a YouTube proxy, and it offers a better watching experience than using Tor (although using Tor to unblock YouTube may be necessary in some edge cases).

By using a VPN to bypass geo-restrictions on YouTube videos, you will:

  • Keep your viewing history private
  • Find it easy to switch between servers in different countries to access different content
  • Have a fast enough connection to easily stream videos

You should note that a VPN can see all your online activity while you are connected, which is why you should only use trustworthy VPNs with a no-logs policy, like Proton VPN. (Our latest security audit results confirm our no logs policy.)

Learn more about how VPNs work.

Other ways to unblock YouTube videos

Although using a VPN is generally the best way to unblock YouTube videos, you do have other options.

Unblock YouTube videos with Tor Browser

The Tor Browser is a powerful privacy tool that you can use to hide your IP address. It lets you send your internet traffic over the Tor network, a web of special servers around the world. The Tor Browser encrypts your internet traffic three times and then routes it through three different servers, making it almost impossible to trace, so YouTube is unable to know your real IP address and can’t geoblock videos for your location.

The average YouTube user would be better served simply using a VPN, which makes selecting a country to browse from quick and easy. However, you should use Tor Browser to unblock geo-restricted YouTube videos if you think there would be dire ramifications if local authorities found out you were watching this video. While it is a somewhat complicated procedure, you can also set which country the final Tor server is in. There are three main reasons you should avoid using Tor to stream YouTube:

  • Tor traffic is slow
  • By watching a YouTube video on Tor, you will make the connection even slower for everyone else using Tor
  • Tor can be complicated to set up and use

Learn more about using Tor.

Unblock YouTube videos with YouTube proxies

A proxy server also allows you to browse the internet as though you are in another country by connecting you to another server. The proxy server hides your IP address from your destination site similarly to a VPN. However, proxies should generally be avoided because they can: 

  • Expose your data
  • Monitor your online activity
  • Provide generally weak performance

However, unlike a VPN, a proxy only works over the connection you open with the proxy. For example, if you are listening to Spotify via the desktop app and you connect to a proxy server in your internet browser, only the traffic from your internet browser will go through the proxy, while Spotify will continue to connect to your local ISP.

Secondly, proxies do not add extra encryption to your traffic like a VPN. In fact, in many cases, free proxies ban HTTPS traffic. This means that not only is your data vulnerable to being intercepted and read, but the proxy service can track your activity while you are connected to it. Also, free proxy connections are usually less stable and slower than a VPN connection.

What if YouTube is blocked altogether?

There are some instances where YouTube is blocked altogether, rather than individual videos. This can happen in countries with strict censorship practices or if you use a network that blocks YouTube using a firewall (for example, at work or school).

Government censorship

Some countries, like China, Iran, and Turkmenistan, have blocked YouTube entirely. The reasons provided for blocking YouTube include protecting citizens from harmful content, national security, or for morality reasons. Depending on the methods that country uses, a VPN may or may not be effective.

Network firewalls 

Many schools and workplaces use firewalls to block certain websites like YouTube to remove distractions or increase productivity. However, there are many cases where access to YouTube videos is necessary in these environments — especially for educational reasons.

You can still use a VPN to bypass these restrictions on accessing YouTube, as the VPN will hide your internet traffic from the firewall.

  1. To unblock YouTube using a VPN, you will first need to sign up for a VPN. You can sign up for Proton VPN here.
  2. You then need to download and install the right VPN app for your device.
  3. Once you have installed the VPN app, you need to log in and connect to a VPN server in a country where YouTube is not blocked. If you only need to bypass a network firewall, you can connect to a server in the same country that you are already in, as this will still prevent the firewall from blocking your browsing activity.
  4. You will now be able to watch YouTube videos.

FAQ

How does a VPN unblock YouTube videos?

A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a server in another country, making it appear as though you are browsing the internet from that country. Your device’s IP address tags your general location (city and ZIP code) that websites then use to geo-restrict certain content. If you use a VPN, your IP address is changed to one in another country, meaning those websites can no longer block content based on your true location.

Can I unblock YouTube with a free VPN?

You do not need to pay for a Plus plan to unblock YouTube videos. You can sign up for a Proton VPN Free plan and connect to servers in the Netherlands, the USA, or Japan. If you want to access content that is restricted in the countries where we have Free servers, you will need to sign up for a Proton VPN Plus plan. The Proton VPN Plus servers also typically have less load and provide faster YouTube streaming than our Free servers do.

How can you unblock YouTube on your phone?

The process for unblocking geo-restricted YouTube videos on your mobile device is much the same as it is for unblocking content on your desktop. Proton VPN has apps for both iOS and Android devices. Once you have downloaded and installed the correct app for your device, you can simply connect to a server in a country where the video you want to watch is not blocked, and then use the YouTube app on your device to watch the video of your choice.

Prior to joining Proton, Richie spent several years working on tech solutions in the developing world. He joined the Proton team to advance the rights of online privacy and freedom.

2 comments

  1. Juan

    I’m new in this world of privacy and I like articles like this! Thank you ProtonVPN for teach us.

  2. lurcher

    I have a VPN account but no VPN service… I was hoping this would help to inform me on how to use the service but so far I am just getting more confused… It looked like a simple download, install, use process but all I have accomplished so far is to give away my email address with nothing to show for it but an account login..

Comments are closed.

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