Fed up of being told you can’t watch certain videos in your country?
One way to get around this is to use a VPN for streaming video. By helping you get around geo-restrictions, a VPN can open up a whole new world of video streaming possibilities.
Top VPN Picks For Streaming Video:
(more on these further below)
Why Would I Need A VPN For Streaming?
There are two main reasons that you would be likely to use a VPN for streaming your favorite videos. These are to unblock geo-restricted content and to avoid ISP throttling.'
Unblock Geo-restricted Content
The first and probably the most common reason is to unblock geo-restricted content.
Video streaming services often restrict the content you can watch depending on your location. Whether this is a full series on Netflix or a short clip on Twitter the effect is the same. You being unable to watch something someone in another country can view!
To get around this, you can use a VPN to pretend you are located in another country. When you connect to a VPN all your data is sent to a VPN server in another location before being sent on to the website you are trying to access.
This means that the website will see your location as that of the VPN server, not as that of your actual location. You should be able to stream video content that isn’t available in your area.
As well as streaming video, the same technique can be used to stream geo-blocked music, access websites as they would be in a different country, or bypass websites that are censored in your country.
ISP throttling is a phenomenon where your ISP will move to slow the internet of people who are using bandwidth-heavy applications like streaming video. Your ISP may try to do this to stop their networks becoming congested which can have negative effects on individual users.
If you find that you often have problems streaming video when really your internet should be more than fast enough to stream the video without any problems, you could be experiencing throttling.
VPNs can help you get around throttling due to the fact that when you use a VPN your ISP can't see the packet headers that contain the port numbers and IP addresses of where you are trying to connect to. Instead, all it will see is the encrypted tunnel. Because of this, the ISP can't enforce traffic shaping/Quality of Service on the actual data.
Are VPNs Safe?
VPNs are very safe. In fact, the security features they provide mean that they are usually safer than using a normal internet connection without a VPN. The only problem would be if you choose a poor quality VPN. This is usually associated with free VPNs, as paid ones have to, and have more money to, look after your data.
First of all, let’s take a look at some of the extra security features provided by a VPN. Basically, when you connect to the internet using a VPN all your data is sent through an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server.
The fact that your data is encrypted means that it is much harder to read than if you used an unencrypted connection. This can be especially useful if you frequently connect to unprotected public networks.
Unprotected means that anyone can connect to them. This includes trustworthy people like yourself but also people who may not have the best intentions in mind.
If a hacker logs into an unprotected network they would potentially be able to spy on the data that you and others using the network are sending. Using a VPN to encrypt your traffic would make it significantly harder for anyone to spy on your connection.
What To Avoid
The main problem with VPN security is if the VPN itself is compromised. The best way to ensure this isn’t the case is to choose a VPN with a good reputation. If the VPN you are thinking of signing up to doesn’t have any reviews or doesn’t seem legit in any other ways, it is probably best to choose a different VPN.
In general, free VPNs are far more likely to be a security risk. VPNs can be expensive to run so, whether due to malicious intent or simply neglect, free VPNs are more likely to be unsafe than paid for VPNs.
VPN Features To Look Out For
If you plan to use a VPN to stream video there are a few features that you must make sure your VPN has. Three of the most important ones are:
- Unlimited data usage
- Unlimited bandwidth usage
- VPN servers in the areas you need
Let’s take a look at why these features are important now.
Unlimited Data Usage
Data caps are used by VPNs to limit the amount of data a user can use per day, week, or month. If your VPN has a cap on the amount of data you use then it will likely be a real problem when it comes to streaming video.
Video streaming, especially HD video streaming, uses a lot of data. As such, any limits will likely be reached very quickly if you plan to use your VPN to spend the weekend streaming videos.
Luckily, most quality paid VPNs will provide you with unlimited data so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Unlimited Bandwidth Usage
Similarly, a VPN could restrict the bandwidth you can access which could negatively affect the speeds you are able to get from your internet connection. This would have obvious negative effects on your video streaming as you would likely experience either poor quality video or even worse, lots of buffering.
Choosing a VPN that doesn’t cap the amount of bandwidth that you can use means you are much more likely to have a pleasant video viewing experience.
VPN Servers In The Areas You Need
This is especially crucial if you plan to use your VPN to unblock geo-restrictions. Basically, before you sign up to a VPN you should check if the VPN has servers in the countries that can access the data you want to unblock.
If this isn’t the case, you won’t be able to unblock the content that you want to watch.
What To Look For When Streaming With A VPN
When you are streaming the two most important things to keep an eye are the upload/download speeds you get from your VPN as well as any issues with latency. If you notice that there are any issues with any of these factors then you could try to use a different server.
When streaming video it is crucially important that you have good download/upload speeds in order to get the best possible streaming experience. The faster that you can receive data, the better your stream will be.
To ensure the best possible speeds, the first thing you can do is check the speed of your normal internet connection. If your connection isn’t fast enough to stream video normally, using a VPN won’t allow you to stream video (unless you ISP is limiting your speeds: see throttling above).
Unfortunately, VPNs can often slow down your speeds slightly when compared to if you don’t use a VPN. Things like the encryption setting you use, how crowded the server you choose is, and how far away the server is can all affect the speeds you receive.
If you find that the speeds you receive aren’t really fast enough, you can always try to switch to a different server. Preferably one that is close to your current location.
The other big issue that could affect your ability to stream video is latency. Latency is the amount of time a packet of data takes to travel from one location to another and back again.
When using a VPN, especially if the VPN server is located far from your home network, you can see a big increase in latency. If the latency increase is too much, then it will negatively affect your video streaming and you may have buffering problems.
As with data speeds, the best way to avoid this is to switch to an uncongested VPN server that is close to your home network.
Is A VPN Useful For Other Things?
When researching VPNs you may have noticed that they have other uses as well as streaming video. These can broadly be narrowed down into two categories; extra security and increased anonymity.
We touched on this above so I’ll keep it short but using a VPN can increase the security of your network. As a VPN encrypts all the data that is sent between your computer and the server your overall browsing will be more secure.
The second use is that when you use a VPN what you do online will be harder to track. As your data is sent through a VPN server any governments or agencies that are monitoring the traffic of websites will only see the IP address of the VPN server.
As well as this, if you ISP is tracking your browsing, they should only be able to see that you are visiting the VPN server, not where any of the traffic goes after that.
Of course, using a VPN isn’t a guarantee of either your security or your anonymity. However, it can be a useful way to increase both factors.
Best VPNs For Streaming Video Online
First up is IPVanish.
Based in over 60 countries, IPVanish VPN is great for streaming content all over the world. All the major ‘media content’ countries are covered, so you should be in luck finding the content you need.
Find the server you want to connect to with the intuitive server search. You can choose to search via the Map menu, which displays the number of servers in different regions on a map of the world. Click on the region, and IPVanish will take you to the fastest responding server. Or you can search within in a sortable list which displays by load, response time or alphabetical order.
No bandwidth or data caps mean you can stream to your heart’s content. Just make sure your ISP data doesn’t hit the cap!
You can also connect up to 5 devices at the same time, so if someone wants to watch football, while the other (4) watches the US Open, you can all do so without any arguments…
ExpressVPN is a bit of a beast. With access to over 90 countries and hundreds of servers, you have a large pool to choose from.
On top of this, ExpresVPN have a Speed Test feature where it’s possible to sort their server speed based on latency and download speed from your location, to create a ‘Speed Index’ rating. The higher the rating, the better!
Features a kill switch to block your access to the internet should the VPN drop for any reason. This helps stop any location leak anxiety you may have had if the worst happens.
It also has up to 256-bit AES encryption using OpenVPN. You can also use SSTP (for Windows), L2TP/IPSec, IKEv2/IPSec or PPTP.
No bandwidth limitations, and no logs (although a bare minimum of connection logs are kept).
With access to servers on over 140 countries, PureVPN is obviously a top choice for streamers.
There’s a couple of really cool features that potential users might like. One is Split Tunneling, which allows you to choose what traffic traverses the VPN, and what goes straight out your ISP. The other is the new “Virtual Router’ feature, which lets customers use a Windows based device as a ‘Virtual Router’. Basically letting you connect up to 10 devices to the Virtual Router and then pointing the Windows device to the VPN. Cool.
Protocols supported include OpenVPN, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec, PPTP & IKEv2. If you aren’t sure which one to choose, PureVPN will automatically choose one for you.
Also includes a kill switch and a NAT firewall for added security.
On top of all this, up to 5 devices can connect at the same time as well.
VyprVPN is brought to you by Golden Frog. They boast over 700 servers in 70 countries, which should hopefully help you stream the videos you want.
Extra security is provided with a NAT firewall (VPNs remove this security feature given by your home router). There’s also a few protocols to choose from, including Chameleon (Vypr’s own), OpenVPN, PPTP & L2TP. The Chameleon protocol is designed to negate any blocking imposed that may affect other VPN protocols due to DPI (Deep Packet Inspection). 256-bit encryption is also available.
With its 3-day free trial, which is unrestricted (unlike others), VyprVPN is a great pick for testing out the waters before taking the plunge.
Use up to 6 VPN servers on separate devices simultaneously. Yep, that’s a very tempting proposition for those of you out there with families.
You can also adjust how heavy you want the encryption. If you are having issues at 256-bit, lower it to 128-bit to help avoid buffering.
One of the really cool things about Nord is the 3-day free trial. You can try it out, and if you don’t like it, just move onto something else. There’s also a 30-day money back guarantee available.
There’s extra security on board with ‘Double VPN’. In essence, 2 VPN tunnels are formed in path to the VPN server of your choice.
VPNs can be a great way to improve your streaming experience, assuming you choose the correct one. As long as you ensure the VPN you pick has the speeds required and servers in the correct areas, your VPN streaming experience will be a good one.
Thanks for reading and we hope we cleared up some of your questions in relation to streaming video with a VPN. Please comment below if you have any more questions.