Every one probably knows that in order to access the internet, you’ll need something called an IP address. This is a network number which uniquely identifies your device when you’re online. Because it’s unique it’s effectively your address on the internet. What people are not aware of is that this address can be used to track, control and filter what you are able to access.
Important Point – you have effectively got two IP addresses – a local IP address set on your device and a public IP address assigned by your internet connection. It’s the public IP address that’s the important one, which affects what you can do or see online. It’s this address which we use IP address changer software to hide using something like a proxy server or virtual private network.
Perhaps you don’t mind being tracked online, perhaps you are happy for websites to decide what you can see or not see. Pretty much every web site now uses software which automatically detects IP address when you visit. More likely you’ll be fairly annoyed at this, the internet is meant to be a universal medium of communication open to everyone. It’s simply not and one of the main forms of control is through this essential network address that we all need online.
So changing your IP address is a way of getting around this. There are various reasons why you might wish to do so, for example: if you want to access streaming services like Netflix or BBC iPlayer from abroad; if you’re on the run and need an alternative identity; or simply because it’s something fun to try out. Virtually all forms of this control are linked to your IP address so if you’re able to modify it then you can set yourself free of this digital tyranny !
Can’t bothered to read the post – well just watch this video instead ! Here’s the software being used.
Can you Permanently Change your IP Address?
In theory, yes however you would need to own or have access to an Internet Service Provider. For most of us it’s not really an option, at least if you want to still be able to access the internet. Anyone can change to a different internal IP address but you’d still need a public facing one assigned by your internet provider for the internet.
In practice there’s actually a simple alternative and that’s to use a VPN or proxy service. These are external servers which you can route your data through, protecting your anonymity, data and hiding your real IP address. For example when you use a VPN – then all websites will only see the IP associated with it.
Your real address will be hidden and all websites will only see the location of the VPN or proxy. It will seem as though you’re browsing from there. This makes these tools great for accessing geo-blocked websites such as Netflix or BBC when travelling because your real location usually doesn’t matter. Simply switch to a proxy or VPN in the correct country and all will work perfectly.
Is changing your IP address illegal?
A surprisingly often asked question. No, it is definitely not illegal to change your IP address. Nor is it illegal to use a VPN or proxy service to change or hide your real location. The only caveat would be if you’re using someone else’s connection or without their permission which could lead to charges for fraud. In reality millions of people change IP addresses all the time, mobile phones switch as you move around, or when you connect to a new WiFi spot. Is moving house illegal ? It’s effectively the same question.
The IP address is just a network number, it’s required to enable TCP/IP to work which is essential for internet access. There’s certainly no legal requirement attached to it though some of the more extreme and controlling governments try to discourage or block the use of VPN programs.
What is the best IP Hider software?
There are a few ways of hiding your IP address although they are all quite similar. Basically VPN, proxy or something called Smart DNS which is a combination of both. Smart DNS only routes a small portion of your connection and is designed primarily to enable specific online TV and entertainment sites. It works well, but doesn’t hide your IP address the majority of the time only on pre-configured sites. It might be best for you and it’s probably the cheapest option – check out this site for a free trial.
If you’re serious about hiding your IP address though and protecting your anonymity then there’s only two options – VPNs and proxies. They both act as the intermediary in your network connections therefore hiding your real location/address. The advantage for a VPN is that it actually protects your data as well by encrypting your connection completely.
For personal privacy and anonymity – using a VPN is the best option.
Choosing the right VPN to watch the BBC abroad can be somewhat of a challenge. Every year this changes to some extent so it can be difficult to keep track. So here’s my assessment of which is the best VPN for streaming BBC iPlayer abroad in 2021. If you can’t be bothered to read to the end, then in my opinion these are the best options –
Identity Cloaker– for use on a PC/Laptop, super reliable for accessing all UK TV channels. Great security pedigree and support however a bit limited in support for other devices like Smart Phones, tablets etc.
NordVPN – the giant in the VPN world, they have even advertised on major UK TV channels ! Lowest prices if you go for the longer term subscriptions, support for most major devices and a fast reliable network. Sometime servers get blocked due to huge number using these for streaming the BBC. however use the ‘BBC optimized’ servers and you’ll rarely have a problem.
I’ve lost count of the number of VPN programs that I’ve used over the last 15 years to make sure I maintained access to BBC iPlayer and the other UK TV channels when travelling. To me it’s hugely important as the amazing site contains the majority of my online entertainment needs. Whether it’s the BBC news every day, politics from News Night, or dramas like Line of Duty – I don’t really need anything else. For movies there’s a few on BBC but loads more on the other domestic UK TV channels – Channel 4 even has it’s own film channels. These are not the latest blockbusters but are usually highly rated, quality films actually worth watching.
So choosing the right VPN is vital for me, because increasingly many simply don’t work with BBC iPlayer or the other UK TV sites any more. So what are the components that you should look for in a VPN for watching the BBC? If you’re like me and just want something reliable so they can watch their favorite BBC shows whenever they like and wherever they happen to be,
Best VPN for BBC iPlayer ?
There’s actually a few aspects to consider if you’re choosing a VPN primarily for BBC iPlayer access although the primary one is of course that it works! A super, secure, low priced VPN is no use if the VPN doesn’t let you watch the BBC.
IP Address – the vast majority of VPNs use shared IP addresses on their servers, This means that when you connect you’ll be sharing your assigned VPN address with potentially thousands of people. Normally this is no problem, however BBC iPlayer WLL BLOCK access if the number connecting with the same address gets too high. It’s an easy way to block access to VPNS and proxies and one that is used consistently. It’s actually the primary reason that many VPNs now are blocked automatically by the BBC and other UK sites – too many people sharing the same IP address when they connect.
Speed – this is probably the next most important factor. There’s little joy to be had if your VPN reduces your connection speed to a crawl. What’s more streaming video especially HD quality takes lots of bandwidth, a slow VPN makes watching online TV extremely tedious. You’ll get stuttering, freezes and buffering while your VPN connection tries to catch up. It’s an awful experience, your VPN must be fast and ideally maintains your native connection speed if possible.
These two are where most cheaper VPNs and all the free ones fail. They reduces costs and therefore their prices by loading as many customers onto each server as possible – crippling speed and getting the IP addresses blacklisted for too many concurrent connections.
Security – ok not always essential if you’re just wanting to watch Match of the Day, but a decent VPN should be secure. A poorly configured VPN will be detected by media sites like the BBC iPlayer and ITV Hub. So although not a core requirement, a decent VPN should encrypt and secure your internet connection.
Multiple Devices – nowadays people surf the internet and world wide web on all manner of different devices. The same is said for streaming multimedia content, while some only watch the BBC on a computer or laptop, many others use tablets, smart phones and TVs to stream directly. You should check that your VPN supports multiple devices and ideally has customized applications for each one.
These are the most important criteria to check if you’re searching for your ideal VPN for BBC iPlayer. In our two recommended examples Identity Cloaker scores well on the first three – low number of users, high speed and very secure. However their support for multiple devices is not the best, you can use it on most devices but they only have applications for PC and MAC, you can connect manually using tablets and phones etc.
NordVPN scores well on security, speed and multiple device support but you have to be careful with the IP addresses you use. NordVPN has millions of users and you have to ensure you use specific servers for watching the BBC. If you use the auto connect feature which assigns your server connection automatically you’ll often find access to BBC iPlayer is blocked. Fortunately Nord maintain a series of UK based servers which are optimized for BBC access – currently these are as follows –
These servers are monitored to enable BBC access, IP addresses are swapped if they’re blocked. These UK servers should always work with BBC iPLayer but keep checking with the company that they don’t change them!
As many of us probably know it’s kind of difficult to enjoy British television stations outside the UK. Sure, pretty much everything from the major broadcasters is streamed online but by default all these sites block access to anyone based abroad. That’s everyone, it doesn’t matter if you’re a premium subscriber or have been paying for your UK TV license for years. If you’re physically outside the United Kingdom then you won’t be able to access sites like the BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub or All Four. It’s hugely frustrating that all these channels are available online yet watching UK TV abroad is not technically allowed. You can’t even download the software to play them – try to access BBC iPlayer or the ITV Hub from the app store and you’ll not be allowed either.
Of course, restrictions like this don’t often stand unchallenged online and fortunately there’s several ways to bypass them. It’s fairly straight forward and indeed millions of people use these ‘workarounds’ all over the world. What’s more it works with just about every country restricted site too, including sites like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and virtually every media site. The method
To enforce these rather ridiculous blocks the technology used is called geo-targeting. This involves looking up where your IP address is registered and then applying a rule based on the location. It could sometimes be routed through to an appropriate language version but more often that not it simply blocks access. It happens across all sorts of channel both free and premium ones. Here’s me getting blocked from my beloved Britbox subscription simply because I was in the wrong country at the time.
Here’s a current list of the most popular UK TV sites which are restricted when you leave the United Kingdom. Some access was allowed in the European Union because of the EU digital rules, however this finished when Britain left the community at the beginning of 2021.
BBC iPlayer – including all the BBC TV sites and some of the radio channels.
ITV – ITV Hub was accessible in EU but finished 1/1/21.
Channel 4 – All 4
Channel 5 – My 5
Sky TV – Sky GO access was allowed in EU but that finished 1/1/21 when Britain left.
Now TV – access restricted outside the UK.
BT/BT Sport – access restricted outside UK.
Basically every decent UK station including subscription and free to air channels now won’t work outside the United Kingdom.
It seems rather old fashioned and backward for a global communication network like the internet. Yet it happens all the time and on all sorts of platforms. Of course, it’s worse for some people than others but happens in every country on the planet to some extent. It seems especially bizarre for subscription channels that you actually pay for like Britbox or Sky Go.
How People Watch UK TV Abroad – Using a VPN to Stay Hidden
VPN services are a relatively recent tool but something which has become increasingly important for people who use the internet a lot. It stands for virtual private network and is essentially an encrypted tunnel between your computer/device and a secure managed server. It’s prime purpose is security, it ensures everything you online is protected by the encryption. However it also provides another level of privacy – by hiding your location and identity from the websites and servers you use online. Instead of seeing how you are and where you’re logging in from, only the VPN server is visible.
This facility to basically hide and change your real location has spawned a huge market for VPN services all over the world. For instance anyone who wants to watch British TV online from outside the United Kingdom simply has to use a VPN. As long as they connect to a server based in the UK then they are able to watch any TV channel they like. So for example normally you can’t watch BBC iPlayer or ITV Player online as soon as you step outside Britain, however with a VPN service it doesn’t matter. You can essentially watch TV online from any country you want and use any streaming service in any country anywhere in the world. It doesn’t matter where your internet connection originates from only the location of the VPN servers that you connect to.
Sounds complicated but it really isn’t – here’s a quick demonstration on how to use a UK VPN to watch British TV content..
Here’s my favorite the best VPN for most of use – a great combination of speed, value and fantastic support with a money back guarantee too. I use it primarily for the BBC iPlayer to watch Match of the Day and to watch BBC News. Remember speed is important too especially if you want to watch full ultra HD or HD streaming using the connection.
However sometimes a VPN is not the right solution for bypassing these blocks and enabling TV channels like these. For example you can’t always install VPN software on some network enabled devices like Smart TVs or media streamers. However there is another option, which although has less security is useful in many situations.
How to Watch UK TV Abroad Free Online Without VPN Services
So what do you do if you don’t or can’t use a VPN, is there an option to use something else to hide your location? Well for many years people did use something called proxies which worked in similar way to a VPN without the encrypted layer. You could certainly use a UK based proxy for watching UK TV and other streaming services too. However those days are long gone, most proxy servers are detected by the TV and media sites very easily and will rarely work. It’s probably about 5 or 6 years since you could use a proxy to watch most of the major UK TV channels or TV services.
The latest solution is actually something called Smart DNS which is kind of a combination of a VPN and a proxy server. It still hides your location but doesn’t route all your connection through an intermediate server. It’s also important to remember that Smart DNS doesn’t encrypt your connection in any way so is of limited value as a security system.
There are however two advantages to using Smart DNS solutions particularly to watch UK TV channels and other TV streams.
Faster as it doesn’t route your entire connection through an external VPN server
Easy to set up, the system works through DNS so you only need to change the DNS servers
The speed difference can be significant in some situations as the majority of traffic is routed directly to your device after the initial connection phase. The setup just involves pointing your DNS settings at the Smart DNS servers, which is usually possible through the network connection settings on most devices. There’s no requirement for any software to be installed to make this works.
It’s become so useful that the biggest VPN services like Nord now supply a Smart DNS service included. For example you can use Smart DNS service as part of your NordVPN subscription at no extra charge when required. However if you think Smart DNS might be enough for you on it’s own perhaps just to access a particular streaming service like BBC News then here’s a free trial option.
It’s a Smart DNS service which works with the vast majority of streaming services and has a 14 day free trial which you can try out for nothing. What’s more there’s no credit card requirement so there’s no risk of testing the technology entirely without risk.
There’s no doubt that proxies are changing, even during the lifetime of this website there have been significant developments. Over the years the supply of professional proxy and VPN services has escalated due to certain specific requirements that many people have. The biggest driver by far has been the need for privacy and anonymity although surprisingly from very different type of individuals.
The basic premise of a proxy server used across the internet is to act as a buffer between the client computer and the web resource it’s connecting to. By sitting between the two sides of the network connection, the proxy can shield the location and identity of the host computer. There’s all sorts of people who use them, from political activists living in authoritarian states to internet marketers who simply need to run multiple identities online.
The requirements will vary depending on what you’re trying to achieve. For example a basic proxy will rarely be sufficient for most tasks anymore, whereas there would have been no problem ten years ago using these for most tasks. Now there’s a problem with using the basic servers available from the proxy market primarily because most sites will block any type of data scraping session. That simple web scraping solution installed on your site to bring in data from other sources needs more protection in 2021. Some sites even have installed machine learning algorithms to detect when proxies are used to access their web data directly or via web scraping tools. Much of this detection focus is on the IP addresses themselves, which is why so many proxy services are moving away from traditional data center IP addresses.
If you’re worried about people eavesdropping on your connection and discovering your identity then certainly you’d also be wise to consider a level of encryption too. A proxy with a layer of encryption is effectively a VPN service (Virtual Private Network). For other people what’s much more important is the IP address assigned to the proxy server rather than hiding the exact connection information itself. This is because a primary driver for most commercial and data science tasks is not complete anonymity but to mimic multiple, ordinary home users.
Don’t Be Yourself Use Multiple Identities and Residential Proxies
People and businesses who operate online often need the ability to create and operate multiple digital identities. This could be for a variety of reasons including things like research, multiple scaping sessions or e-commerce. Unfortunately this isn’t really possible if you try and do this through a single network location like your office or home PC. The issue is that without using something like a proxy you’ll be locked into a single IP address which is located in a specific location. So a marketing company operating from Paris would find it very difficult to place an advert on a USA located site like the regionally split Craigslist.
This is where proxies come in and importantly the ability to switch or rotate the IP addresses that are assigned to your connection automatically. The correctly configured proxy can allow you to have multiple identities all over the world without ever leaving your PC. Without them you’d have to rack up the air miles travelling all over the world.
It opens up a myriad of options for all sorts of people. Millions of people for instance use a proxy/VPN server to watch TV that is normally blocked. As we speak there are thousands of people watching the BBC from Spain online something that is technically not supposed to be possible. All they do is hide their Spanish IP address by using a proxy server based in the UK which unlocks all the UK TV channels without a problem.
Many online entrepreneurs use proxies to operate digital identities across the world. By switching their IP addresses to match the target countries, they don’t need remote offices or to keep travelling for their data gathering. Investing in a rotating proxy servers allow firms to target global markets from anywhere in the world. They use them to run things like multiple social media accounts, data extraction tools – being able to collect data without the risk of detection and being blocked. There are lots of people running huge businesses on eBay and Craigslist simply by virtue of multiple accounts through these next gen residential proxies. With the right account, decent proxy management you can mimic a huge network presence from a single desktop at home.
Only the Next Generation Residential Proxies Keep You Hidden
There are issues though, with the traditional, standard proxies based in datacenters that we’ve all been using for years. This is due to the detection systems that many websites use in order to block the use of proxies. This is done for a variety of reasons, but especially to restrict access to international or duplicate connections. For example many internet marketers operate hundreds of social media accounts – a practice not popular with some of the platforms. A popular platform for marketers – Instagram restrict access or disable people’s accounts if they try and run even a couple of accounts from the same connection. They are even able to detect some proxies primarily based on their IP address ranges. Combined with sophisticated AI powered dynamic fingerprinting, it’s become much more difficult to hide and manage duplicate accounts. It’s very simple for a web site to instigate IP blocking against any suspected account of address originating from a commercially registered address.
With today’s machine learning technology, websites are able to identify a non-home user by the type of IP address they are using. Most addresses are classified as commercial or residential ranges, depending on where they are registered. Instagram will flag too many connections from commercial IP addresses, whereas those assigned by ISPs are normally treated much more favourably. Which is why you’ll find most people have switched to using residential proxies especially for commercial online activities. Initially it was difficult to find a proxy service provider who offered a residential proxy platform, fortunately this situation is changing.
The latest generation of next gen residential proxies actually use different IP address ranges. They specialize in routing their proxies through residential IP addresses, which are the same addresses assigned by ISPs to home users through their internet connections. These residential proxies look like human users and are much less likely to be identified as originating from proxies. E commerce sites typically will restrict access to any non-residential addresses in order to combat fraud.
Standard residential proxies though are hard to set up because of the difficulty in obtaining genuine residential IP addresses. They are not available as widely as datacenter IP addresses although there are numerous innovative methods to obtain access to them. For example Luminati have established a huge global network of residential addresses through individual home connections. In exchange for using tools, games and software the company can route traffic securely through these home connections. Many of the next gen residential proxies have been created like this using shared or borrowed home connections.
Other developments include gaining access to other sources of addresses which are difficult to identify as commercial connections. One example is to route traffic through mobile gateways and use the addresses normally assigned to our mobile devices. These are called mobile proxies which use address ranges which are used to allow network connectivity to our mobile phones and other devices. These are extremely difficult to detect and also it’s not really feasible to block access as they are so dynamic switching between users as they move around.
Obviously these IP addresses are very much in demand, however there also difficult to obtain so only a few providers offer them. One of the biggest providers is a company called Luminati who have the largest network of residential IP addresses and also a substantial network of mobile IPs too.
The trouble with many definitions and descriptions with regards proxy servers is that there are very few standards. The time has passed when you could just browse through proxy lists searching for things like a UK or United States proxy server. Many of these simply don’t work anymore any sense of anonymity ruined because they don’t actually hide your real IP address or header information when you use them.
Many providers simply tag their own descriptions or opinions onto a convenient title. Some of the favourites are descriptions like anonymous and elite which you’ll often find used to explain the security level of a service. Obviously you would expect an elite proxy to provide a high level of both anonymity and security, however that’s not always the case.
What is an Elite Proxy ?
Don’t be fooled by the descriptions used online. There’s hundreds of proxy list web sites which label proxies as elite with the very minimum level of security. Sure they’ll label them secure and even group them by proxy country, but they carry all sort of risks to your computer and data. Most of these sites are just trying to sell a service, that elite proxy switcher will most often just switch through insecure free proxies it finds online. Also that web page offering a free portal to hundreds of anonymity proxies is very unlikely to be accurate. Setting up, maintaining and using a proxy and keeping it secure requires technical expertise, time and money – i.e. so it won’t be available for nothing or be supported by a few adverts.
These proxy descriptions are often used completely inappropriately, substituted or simply swapped around. Using them to hide your real IP address is not a good idea, as many of them simply don’t work properly. Calling something elite doesn’t make it so!
However there are some fairly standard definitions of these terms which are generally accepted by the majority of the IT community. So whether you’re looking for a basic HTTP proxy or just something to supplement HTTPS then it’s worth reading the below terms.
Here’s the three based standards which you will find referenced the most.
There are many other definitions but these are fairly standard and you’ll find them used by most of the serious proxy service providers and of course in thousands of lists available on the internet. It’s worth learning these terms and checking them against the proxy provider you choose. If they don’t know what you’re talking, evade the questions then move onto another company.
So here’s the three basic types of proxies –
The standard definition of a transparent proxy is a basic proxy which does not alter user information in any way. The proxy will simply pass the information along without modifying or hiding it in any way. The important factor to remember with regards security is that a transparent server will not hide the original IP address in any way.
Transparent proxies are able to transmit all standard HTTP traffic and the user does not need to make any modifications at all. There’s no real anonymity or security aspect to using these proxies, in fact they’re generally used to simply speed up access or act as a buffer in internal networks to internet access.
Many firms install them in their DMZ to create a barrier between desktop clients and the internet in general. It allows a single point where traffic can be monitored and checked for viruses without having to check each individual PC. All the relevant headers will transmitted including the following –
REMOTE_ADDR – includes the proxy IP
HTTP_VIA – includes the proxy software being used
HTTP_X_FORWARDER_FOR – includes client IP address
With regards to caching functionality, an anonymous proxy has the same functionality as the transparent server above. The major difference as suggested by the name is of course the ability to provide a level of anonymity to the client and proxy connection. This group probably represent the most common type of proxies that are available online.
The anonymous proxy server will attempt to forward the same headers –
However the true information will not be included in these fields, which will either be null or filled in with incorrect information depending on configuration.
So that just leaves us with the last and most frequently abused category, that of elite proxies. It is described as the highest level of security and potentially gives the most privacy and anonymity online. There are specific requirements but the overall concept is that an elite proxy will be undetectable and provide no traces of a proxy being used.
Also the real ‘client IP address’ should not be visible at all, this is essential in providing anonymity. If your actual IP address is visible this would negate all anonymity as it’s individually assigned to your internet connection especially if you’re using a home connection.
In this scenario the above headers are not forwarded at all, which is essential otherwise it would be evident that a proxy was being used. Any server specifically designed for a certain purpose like these which are used for Ticketmaster are likely to be configured as elite level proxies.
How Can I Get a Free Proxy
There are literally thousands of proxy services listed on many free proxy list pages which are little more than a basic install on shared hosting. They can usually be used for free but offer no internet privacy at all and the IP addresses they use will almost certainly be on most internet blacklists. If you need them as a country filter or with social networks and accounts then be aware that not only won’t they protect your anonymity there’s a real risk that your data and identity is being monitored and harvested too.
Many of the servers on these lists aren’t even running proxy servers intentionally, they’re hacked or compromised servers which have been picked up by the proxy scraping scripts that build these lists. Often hackers install the proxy software in order to infect computers or your web browser. They don’t generally work even on the most basic tasks anymore like bypassing things like the UK TV block on sites like BBC iPlayer.
Even if you only use them in a limited manner, there’s a real risk that your data could be intercepted. Many of them redirect your web browser to infected websites where you could end up losing your credit card details or other personal information.
Choosing a Safe and Secure High Anonymity Proxy
Using an elite proxy is the most advanced degree of security as it provides the best protection and privacy on the Internet. If privacy is your core concern you should definitely be looking at elite level proxies like the ones supplied by the premium proxy providers. They can supply you with working proxies which are safe to use and hide the fact evidence of the proxy connection too. Many tasks now also require residential IP addresses too, some firms even supply proxy rotation systems which can switch as your requirements change.
If you want to take a look at a company that is well respected and will enable you to both IP hide your location and keep your data secure then take a look at these two companies –
Luminati – the world’s largest proxy service providers. Not the cheapest but guaranteed security and anonymity – a quality service which you can configure yourself using their proxy manager.
IPBurger – company who I’ve used for internet marketing and eBay. One of the few companies able to provide specific geo targeting of their proxies which is essential for many services.