Tuesday

Residential VPN Services and Netflix Blocks

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So what exactly are residential VPN services and why are they so hard to find?    Well millions of  us have been using VPN services for many years for a variety of  reasons.  Ranging from the need to hide your IP  usually involving online privacy, security and bypassing all these stupid region locks that appear all over the internet.   Also for travellers using unsecure wifi, it was essential to use a VPN connection, which many employees were able to obtain from their companies.

It is probably region locking which is the important factor here because if your focus is simply anonymity there is little difference between a residential VPN and an ordinary service.  As long as you hide your IP then it doesn't matter where or how that address is classified.  In truth, anonymity is probably best served by establishing a connection to a server housed in a secure non-residential data center.

The difference between residential VPN services and a standard one is simply the type of IP address that is assigned to your connection.

There are in fact two distinct groups of IP addresses -
  • Standard Commercial IP address assigned from a Datacentre
  • Residential IP address assigned normally from your ISP

For many years this distinction was unimportant,  there was no real distinction between a residential internet address.   Sure, you needed an IP address to get online but it didn't much matter where it was assigned from.  Generally your address would be assigned by an ISP or from a communications company like telecom italia or Vodaphone.   But in the last few months this has begun to change and there's every indication that it's going to get more and more important particularly with regards vpn technology.

What do you mean Netflix doesn't work anymore!!!
The first indication has been in the ongoing war between the online media giants who are determined to use region locking to control our viewing.  It's why you can't watch the BBC iPlayer outside the UK, Hulu outside the USA and use your Netflix account in a country where it's not supported - all these companies actively block such connections.

This has been a problem easily circumvented though simply by hiding your real IP address and instead connecting through a VPN/proxy service.  Unfortunately the companies are fighting a real war against the vpn service provider and their services - proxy servers are now pretty much useless as most of the media giants can detect and block them easily.

VPNs have survived longer because the encrypted connections are much more difficult to identify and you can also dual stack them with each other.  However these too have now begun to be blocked particularly by the media giant - Netflix.   Nearly all VPN services are now blocked by Netflix, see Netflix Blocking VPN  and you'll get this warning message if you try and use one -


What Netflix is doing is not trying to detect the VPN or proxy itself but merely  the source of the IP address.  If it originates from a standard data center then it is deemed to be a proxy or VPN access service and blocked.  Netflix now only allows access to residential based IP addresses assigned from an ISP.

Almost overnight every single VPN service became useless for accessing Netflix  because most weren't on a residential internet address - which was quite upsetting to many of us!  Fortunately the services are beginning to fight back and a couple of the most advanced services like Identity Cloaker are already bypassing these blocks again.

What they are doing is using residential IP addresses assigned to their VPN servers.  For example Identity Cloaker now assigned a random residential IP address to any connection made directly to any Netflix website - this ensures that the connection is never blocked.

There are not many of these residential VPN services available yet simply because the technology to assign them is quite new and these addresses actually cost much more than standard IP addresses.   It is expected though that many of the other big media sites will follow Netflix's route in the future and block all non-residential traffic.

You can try the 10 Day trial for Identity Cloaker here - but please note that you'll only get a US residential IP address when connecting to US Netflix as they are not yet required for the other media sites.


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1 comments:

Welshgadgets said...

Apparently Identity Cloaker have now added residential IP addresses for accessing Amazon Prime in the US. Unfortunately I haven't been able to test this as I have a UK account. If anyone would like to test this for me, drop me a message here I have a couple of free ten day accounts which people can use in return for some feedback.