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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Life Abroad: Hulu, Pandora, Netflix while abroad

This post is from an American perspective, but the tips offered work for any country's blocked sites.

If you're like me, I'm sure you like watching TV on the internet and listening to music online.
One bummer about working/living abroad is that often times these subscription services and media content are blocked for users abroad.

You're going to need a VPN (virtual private network) to access the content.

Over the years, I have tried many different VPN services.
I'll rank them in terms of reliability below.



From most reliable:
1. VPN from a home network (or school network).
Luckily, I am usually associated with a company or school back in the US.
So, if you're an exchange student, this is probably the most useful and best option! (I'm so jealous of you, by the way, my student status has lapsed at Columbia and I can no longer use its library network.)

Just log onto your IT portal at your university and search for a "VPN". The portal will 9 times out of 10 give you a screenshot tutorial about how to set it up.

If not, before you leave, go to your friendly IT center and ask them to help you set it up.
If they ask, just say you need the VPN because some of the research databases and journals you use for class are blocked while abroad and you just want to make sure you can keep up your studies.

This, is completely true, by the way.
I was so frustrated when I kept getting locked out of NCBI and some PubMed sources.

If you're at a company, I'm sure your computer is already set up for a company VPN.

You can also check if your router at your home is able to work as a VPN server. You'll need to have a static IP. There are plenty of tutorials online for that, too.

Oh, also, you can most likely also set up your VPN for your phone, too! It just might be a little more difficult explaining why you need to access stuff from your school network on your phone.

2. MediaHint
I used this for a few years (way before they started charging for the service).
I didn't have any problems with it...minus the fact they started asking for a monthly/annual fee a couple of years ago.

It's a Google Chrome plug-in and super easy to set up!

3. GreenVPN
I was having issues figuring out how to access media on my mobile devices (phone and tablet).
I asked my friend in China what she uses.
This was the easiest to set up for me!
There are free options and also paid options. The free ones have a bit lower reliability, but I haven't run across many issues.

4. Hola
This is a plug-in for Chrome, too.
This one is not very reliable.
Hulu has caught onto it, so you have to constantly refresh the server and be okay if your show cuts out part of the way through the show.
It's completely reliable for Pandora, though.


Have I missed any others? What are your favorites?

Oh, and if your VPN doesn't work and you want to see your show without using BitTorrent and downloading it, there are some sites available.
Just Google these...the servers change, so writing the link will not be super useful.
Couchtuner
Cucirca

Happy Viewing!

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