YouTube is a global platform that has over two billion unique users each month from all around the world. Unfortunately, this does not mean that everyone can access every video. Users trying to access videos face numerous restrictions. Depending on which country you are in, certain videos will be blocked, a process called geoblocking. Anyone who has used YouTube while on vacation or living abroad will be familiar with this irritating screen:
There are generally two reasons why YouTube geoblocks content in a country:
- Licensing: This typically happens with entertainment material owned by a major company. The owner of the video has chosen to restrict access to a limited number of countries, or the owner 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.
- Complying with local laws: YouTube sometimes blocks a video if it violates a local law. For example, in Thailand, it is illegal to denigrate the Thai monarch, so videos critical of the Thai king are blocked within the country.
We feel that the Internet is best when you have the freedom to express yourself and exchange ideas. This freedom is undermined when corporations impose geoblocks on content. ProtonVPN is a firm defender of the freedom of speech and we condemn online censorship in any form.
How to unblock YouTube videos
These easy tricks will help you unblock videos on YouTube while you are traveling or on vacation.
Connect through a VPN
A virtual private network (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. The encryption also masks your IP address from your Internet service provider (ISP), which means your online activity will stay private.
However, if you connect to a VPN, the VPN service will be able to see all your Internet activity. This is why it is crucial to only use a trustworthy VPN service.
- Your viewing history will be private
- Switching from country to country is simple
- VPN connections are fast enough to easily stream videos
- A VPN can see all your online activity while you are connected, which is why you should only use trustworthy VPNs with a no-log policy
Learn more about how VPNs work.
Use Tor Browser — as a last resort
This option should only be used if there could be dire ramifications if local authorities knew you were watching this video. The Tor Browser is a powerful privacy tool that can be used to hide your IP address. It lets you send your Internet traffic over the Tor network, which is 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.
While it is a fairly complicated procedure, you can set which country the final Tor server is in and theoretically use the Tor Browser to avoid YouTube’s geoblocks. However, given how slow Tor can be (and the fact that streaming videos would bog down the entire Tor network), the average YouTube viewer would be better served using a VPN.
- Your viewing history will be private.
- Tor traffic is slow.
- By watching a YouTube video on Tor, you will make it even slower for everyone else using Tor.
- Tor can be complicated to set up and use.
Learn more about using Tor.
Options to avoid: YouTube proxies
A proxy server also allows you to browse the Internet as though you were in another country by connecting you to another server. This proxy server hides your IP address from your destination site.
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. Spotify will continue to connect to your local ISP.)
Proxies do not add any extra encryption to your traffic like a VPN does. 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.
- Easy to use
- Can expose your data
- Can monitor your online activity
- Performance is generally weak
For the majority of situations, using a VPN is the best way to access geoblocked YouTube videos. To keep your viewing history private, you should only use VPN services that are trustworthy and have a no logs policy.
ProtonVPN is dedicated to transparency. We want you to know who is running the service. We like to let our record of standing up to governments, supporting journalists, and maintaining open source libraries everyone can use speak for itself.
Next time you are on a trip but still want to want to use YouTube to listen to that perfect song or watch the video your friend sent you, use ProtonVPN. Getting set up is quick and easy.
1. Get a ProtonVPN plan
2. Install our app
3. Connect to a server in the appropriate country
If you’re not sure which countries your YouTube video is available in, don’t worry! You can connect to a server in another country with a single click. (Users on the ProtonVPN Free plan can only connect to servers in Japan, the Netherlands, and the US.)
4. Refresh the page of the blocked YouTube video and enjoy!
The ProtonVPN Team
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