Tuesday

Residential VPN Services and Netflix Blocks

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 usually involving online privacy, security and bypassing all these stupid region locks that appear all over the internet.

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.  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 a residential VPN service 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, you needed an IP address to get online and it didn't much matter where it was assigned from.  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.

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 these services - proxies 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.  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 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 - 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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