Sure Way to Get Hulu to Work With VPN


Sure Way to Get Hulu to Work With VPN

Sure Way to Get Hulu to Work With VPN

As a subscription-based streaming video service based in the United States, Hulu restricts its availability outside of the U.S.

Using a VPN for access outside of the U.S. is possible but requires careful use of a VPN.

A sure way to get Hulu to work with a VPN connection involves using a premium VPN service. Alternatively, you could deploy a VPN server on your own. Doing so, however, requires more technical preparations on your part. Both paths help you to avoid blacklisted IPs and DNS leaks.

This article will provide you with information regarding VPN services that are effective at avoiding detection by Hulu.

Additionally, we will provide you with knowledge on what to look for in evaluating a VPN for successful connections to Hulu. If you are overseas and want to access Hulu, read on, and find out how.

Why Does Hulu Restrict Non-US Streaming?

To understand why it can be problematic to establish a successful VPN connection to Hulu, understanding why Hulu restricts streaming outside of the U.S. in the first place is necessary.

The programming found on Hulu, be it programming from outside content producers or its original productions, are licensed exclusively for streaming within the United States.

The majority of this programming is streamed in international markets by other outlets, but separate licensing agreements cover these.

In other words, Hulu only has the rights to stream its programming to a subscriber located in the United States.

The moment a subscriber attempts to access Hulu outside of the U.S., the streaming servers will detect it and block the stream.

This action is taken to avoid violating the licensing agreements mentioned above.

How Can Hulu Detect Where I Am?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asi-BhC5ZpY

Hulu’s servers are able to detect where you are accessing the service through what is known as “geolocation.”

When you log in to any server, the server will detect the IP where you are logging in.

This detection, in turn, allows the Hulu server to determine the geographical location of your login.

When logging into Hulu from a web browser, your IP address is the most common way for Hulu to detect your location.

However, if you are accessing Hulu from a dedicated app on an Android or iPhone device, 

Hulu can also determine your location by other means.

These include your WiFi connection information and neighboring available WiFI networks—even if you are not connected to them.

GPS and GSM cell tower IDs can also be used to define your connection’s location.

Why Aren’t Most Proxies or VPNs a Solution?

In theory, VPNs and proxy connections allow you to connect to computer servers and establish links with other computers by routing your traffic through another server.

On the surface, this sounds like a viable solution for accessing Hulu outside of the U.S.

However, delving a little deeper into VPNs and proxies’ basic functionality, you will be able to see why they are not always the solution when it comes to Hulu.

Overview of a VPN

A VPN is a virtual private network. In simple terms, when you use a VPN, it tunnels the traffic from your browser—or your entire local network—through a secure data tunnel.

This traffic travels encrypted to an exit node, which is the VPN server. This tunneling is what allows your traffic to assume the virtual location of your VPN server.

Your data hits the internet as if it were originating from the VPN server itself.

Problems Connecting to Hulu With a VPN

From the overview of how a VPN functions, you might think it is the perfect solution for logging into Hulu from a non-U.S. location.

While some VPNs will allow you to have this level of Hulu connectivity, some will not.

To understand why this is so, you need to probe a bit deeper into a VPN’s workings.

Hulu Logs Known VPN IPs

One of the most common issues that you can encounter when trying to use a VPN to access Hulu is that Hulu will recognize your VPN’s IP as just that, a VPN.

Once that happens, Hulu will serve you with the dreaded message, “Based on your IP address; we noticed you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool.

Hulu is not currently available outside the US. If you’re in the US,  you’ll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.”

That message essentially means that Hulu has caught on to your attempt to bypass geolocation limitations.

How can Hulu do this? Accessing libraries of known VPN IP addresses is not difficult.

Even at the consumer level, you can run a cursory check for VPN IPs. Services such as IPQualityScore can perform this task.

Hulu, of course, relies on a more robust framework to perform this task. Hulu’s library of logged VPN IPs is extensive.

Hulu Can Detect Suspicious Traffic

For a VPN IP address to get past Hulu’s scrutiny, it needs to be new.

It needs to be fresh enough so that neither Hulu nor third-party VPN IP tracking services have algorithmically identified it as belonging to a VPN.

Unfortunately, if the VPN service routes multiple users through that IP, it is just a matter of time before Hulu will flag the IP as an originator of suspicious traffic.

This labeling typically happens after multiple different users have logged into Hulu with that same IP.

Poorly Configured VPN Connections

It is possible to have a VPN with an IP address that passes muster, but Hulu still manages to block you from accessing content.

This access denial occurs when the VPN is poorly configured.

Such configuration issues can lead to what is known as DNS leaks. DNS stands for the “Domain Name System.”

It is colloquially referred to as the “phonebook of the internet. This analogy arises from the fact that DNS is what allows a site’s domain name to be mapped to its IP address.

Very similar to how a person’s name would be mapped to a landline in a phonebook.

Without DNS, Hulu.com would be 209.130.205.28. Facebook.com would be 69.63.176.13.

DNS Leaks

Suppose the VPN connection from your browser or local network is not configured correctly.

While the traffic between the VPN and your device is routed via an encrypted tunnel, your browser’s information to your ISP’s DNS server might travel outside of this tunnel.

While a DNS leak would compromise your privacy with your ISP, it wouldn’t directly compromise your location to the site you visit through the end node.

However, since Hulu does use a process to check for DNS leaks from IPs that connect to its service, if your VPN has a DNS leak, Hulu will detect it and be able to determine the location of your real connection point.

WebRTC Leaks

A WebRTC leak is another way that Hulu could access your real IP and determine that you are not really in the U.S.

This type of leak originates from your web browser. It affects all browsers—Firefox, Chrome, all Chromium-based browsers, Opera, Brave, Safari.

WebRTC is the term used to identify the “Web Real-Time Communication” features of a browser used for real-time communication.

Think along the lines of P2P sharing, video and voice chat, etc.

While connecting to your Hulu account does require accessing your browser’s WebRTC feature, Hulu can use a STUN request to detect the type of network adapter that you are using.

In the process, Hulu can acquire your real external IP address.

Since WebRTC information uses a protocol different from what stays within your VPN’s secure encrypted tunnel, it gets transmitted unencrypted.

WebRTC data use what is known as the UDP protocol.

Even though the rest of your traffic is safely hidden with a VPN, your WebRTC data can still reveal your real location.

Slow or Limited Data Transfer Speeds

Another problem that can negatively impact a VPN connection to Hulu is using a VPN service that offers you a limited data transfer.

Streaming consumes bandwidth. 

If you are limited to data transfer volumes under one GB every 30 days, you will find that you will only be able to view two or three movies at most or six to nine episodes of a TV show.

That, if you use your VPN’s bandwidth exclusively for streaming Hulu. Use the VPN to access other sites, and you will have less bandwidth available for Hulu.

If your VPN service offers slow connection speeds, you may face buffering issues with your Hulu streaming.

It could also create timeouts and other forms of interrupted viewing.

That is why you need to choose a VPN service that meets all technical prerequisites to keep your real location secret, but it must also offer the performance requirements to ensure that you can enjoy a smooth streaming experience.

Overview of a Proxy Server

A proxy server functions as a relay point between a specific application on your computer and the internet.

Similar to a VPN, this allows your traffic to assume the IP location of the proxy server.

Unlike a VPN, however, the traffic between your application and the proxy server is not encrypted.

You can only route the traffic between a specific application, not your whole local network’s traffic.

HTTP proxies relay traffic from your browser. SOCKS proxies can relay traffic at the application level.

Problems Connecting to Hulu With a Proxy Server

You can use proxy servers to bypass geolocation restrictions on some sites.

However, when Hulu is involved, the success rate for accessing Hulu via a proxy server drops tremendously. This high failure rate holds for free as well as paid proxy servers.

The reasons for this are the same as those presented above for problems related to VPNs.

The geolocation detection algorithms and protocols on the part of Hulu are highly sophisticated. Since proxies do not encrypt the traffic, it is easier for Hulu to detect when you are using one.

Does this mean that it is a lost cause attempting to access Hulu outside of the United States? Of course not.

Unlike proxies, nullifying the problems of connecting to Hulu with a VPN is not insurmountable.

Getting Hulu to Work With a VPN

Now that you are familiar with the intricacies of accessing Hulu outside of the United States, you can begin to look at ways of ensuring that you will have a high success rate in connecting to the service while overseas.

Here are the key steps to follow.

Stick to VPNs

Rely on VPNs as the gateways to connecting to Hulu outside of the United States. Proxy servers are too unreliable and too easy for Hulu to detect.

You can use a VPN service that charges a monthly fee, or you can install, configure, and run a VPN server of your own. More on the latter later.

Avoid Free VPN Servers

You will find VPN servers available for free. Most of the paid solutions offer a free version.

Unfortunately, these free versions come with two drawbacks that make successfully connecting to Hulu practically impossible:

  • First, being free, the number of servers is limited. Additionally, a large number of people use them daily. Such elevated usage rates mean that countless people have attempted to log into Hulu with those servers. When that happens, Hulu can blacklist those VPNs relatively quickly.
  • Also, being free, the companies running those servers tend to throttle their speed and bandwidth. As we explained above, if you were to luck out and get one to work, your viewing experience would be spotty and choppy due to the low-performance speeds.

Look for VPN Services With a Large Number of US-Based Servers

VPN service companies will attempt to entice you with their marketing material.

They will make claims about how many servers they have, how many IP addresses they offer, how many locations throughout the world their servers are in, etc.

When it comes to getting the best VPN for accessing Hulu, it must be from a VPN with an American IP. Therefore, look for a service that has a large number of US servers.

That is the main characteristic that you are vetting VPN service companies for during your search.

Use a VPN Service that preferably has hundreds of US-based IPs and actively brings fresh IPs into their rotation.

Doing so will minimize the downtime that you may encounter when Hulu eventually blacklists your VPN IP.

If your VPN service company is not responsive to providing a steady stream of fresh IPs, you may want to look elsewhere.

Verify That You Do Not Have Any DNS Leaks Before Connecting to Hulu

It would be best if you avoided anything that can tip off Hulu that you are trying to circumvent their geolocation restrictions.

Each VPN service will provide its users with instructions and guidance on properly installing the VPN client on their computer and instructions on connecting to the VPN server.

Make sure to follow these guidelines.

Additionally, every time you fire up your VPN connection—before attempting to connect to Hulu—run a test to detect DNS and WebRTC leaks. You can use free online tools such as:

Most premium VPN providers also offer you their tools to test for leaks before connecting to Hulu.

Premium VPN Services That Are Reliable for Hulu Access

It is important to remember that choosing the right VPN to access Hulu outside of the United States is a sort of cat and mouse game.

Hulu is always actively fine-tuning their blacklist of VPN and proxy IPs. Eventually, the VPN that you are using will stop working.

When that happens, rotate onto one of the fresher US-based VPN IPs that your VPN provider has to offer.

If your provider does not provide any new offerings, or if all of them have also been blacklisted, it would be a good time to change providers.

For this reason, as tempting as purchasing a yearly plan from a VPN provider can be, it is best to opt for monthly or quarterly plans.

This way, if the VPN provider suddenly stops being useful for accessing Hulu, you can move on without losing the remaining balance on your subscription.

Some premium VPN providers that are known to be reliable for Hulu access include:

Running Your Own VPN Server

If you are not a technical person, the idea of running a VPN server of your own might sound daunting. While doing so may not be for everybody, it is not as complicated as you may think.

It involves installing a VPN client on your home device and installing the VPN server software on a cloud-based hosting platform such as Amazon AWS or Digital Ocean.

The monthly cost associated with it is usually comparable to what you would pay per month to a premium VPN provider.

The upside to having your VPN server for accessing Hulu is that you will be the only person using that IP.

You don’t have to worry about Hulu’s geolocation algorithm detecting you as fast as on VPNs with many users.

Of course, the downside is that you will not have any customer support to fall back on if you encounter technical problems.

You will be on your own to maintain, troubleshoot, and fix the system.

Conclusion

VPNs can offer you a way to access your Hulu subscription when you are outside of the United States.

However, it is not as cut and dry as connecting to any VPN.

The VPN that you choose must have a US-based IP.

When establishing a connection from the VPN client on your device to the VPN server, you need to make sure that the connection is not leaking identifying information as to your actual location.

By understanding how VPNs work, finding one that will provide you with reliable Hulu access becomes more straightforward. 

Sources

Mark Lewis

Security nerd with a Data Privacy First mindset!

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