I’m currently returning from a few weeks travelling and whenever I’m away I always try out a few new VPN programs to see what’s working and what’s not. Of course, most VPN services remain fairly consistent in their performance and security but what does change is their ability to access the big media sites. For example a few years ago most services could allow you full access to whichever version of Netflix you preferred, now virtually every single one is blocked.
Fortunately none of the other media sites followed Netflix’s method to block access to VPNs for very practical reasons, so we can still watch most online services if we use the right service. It should be noted that there is no simple method to detect a well configured VPN even the Chinese have difficulties! However many VPN services do still have problems especially the high profile or ones which advertise their services in the wrong way.
Crucially there are two main mistakes that VPN service providers tend to make with regards access to media sites.
- Overloading individual servers and IP addresses – it’s fairly evident a VPN is being used if 10,000 people connect using the same network address
- Infringe copyrights or advertise their service specifically for bypassing geoblocks.
Either of these will flag a service and end up with if being blocked or blacklisted by a particular media site. The internet however is forever awash with various rumours of which VPNs work and which don’t – much of the information is wrong or misleading though.
Nord VPN BBC iPlayer Blocked
You may have seen NordVPN advertised on the TV, they’re certainly one of the more high profile services available. There are pros and cons to this however when you’re considering access to popular media sites like the BBC. The advantage is that larger companies have huge infrastructure required to hide their connections, including of course hundreds of servers and IP address ranges. The disadvantage is that obviously well known companies can be targeted by the media sites in order to block lots of people.
When you see reports of BBC iPlayer not working through VPN programs, often they are one of the companies which are referenced so I wanted to check it out. One of the reasons is that both of the active services I currently use to watch UK television like the BBC iPlayer abroad don’t really support all my devices easily. Installing a VPN on something like a tablet or Chromebook can be a fiddly process if not supported by the correct application. NordVPN has versions for pretty much all devices including software for most smartphones too.
What’s more it’s very cheap if you invest in the longer plans!
Anyway I wanted to check it out last time I was abroad and here’s a simple demonstration of it working.
As you can see from the demonstration, it works perfectly with no real buffering or connection issues. I should point out that once I connected to a UK server that didn’t work properly but there are lots to choose from and selecting another UK server worked fine. It’s worth using the feature to add your favorite servers though as there’s often a speed differential depending on which you use.
This ability to choose from a large number of servers is crucial for accessing the BBC from abroad using a VPN. Every VPN service is going to get the odd IP address blocked it’s pretty much inevitable, the trick is to keep a large range available and keep swapping them out. For example, currently here’s the best Nord servers for the BBC from my experience but try out them all # 729-732, 757-764, 1044-1045, 1022-1025, 717-720, 745-752, 81-84, 974-977, 481-483, 689, 1057 . Just type the number into the search box and manually connect, try them out and add to favorites then mark as NordVPN BBC iplayer so you can select them quickly when needed.
This really highlights what’s required to keep a VPN active with the top media sites in 2019. The BBC for example have toned down their efforts at blocking VPNs from 2017 but they still do it. The key is to spread connections through large number of servers and keep rotating the IP addresses. Occasionally individual IP addresses will get blocked but as long as there’s lot of alternatives it isn’t really an issue, reconnecting normally only takes a couple of seconds.
NordVPN don’t advertise the facility to watch specific channels on their website which is vital, but they do actively support the functionality. Speaking to their support today – 30th august 2019, they assure all their UK servers are unblocked and available to watch the BBC.
My NordVPN BBC iPlayer experiment was a success and was repeated on a Chromebook, my iPhone and a laptop so if you want to take advantage of their sales prices it’s worth checking them out.