I few years back I wrote an article on enjoying watching shows from the US such as Netflix, Pandora, Hulu, etc. Ever since that time, I have been enjoying the setup so much that I hardly watched any local cable/tv since I finalized my setup. I have upgraded my internet connection to 8Mbps DL from my previous 3Mbps DL, so make sure you have adequate internet download speeds for streaming, anything lower than 2Mbps will produce deplorable stream. You can check by watching youtube videos at 480p minimum (DVD quality) without maxing out your bandwidth, if you can do that then you may be a candidate for VPN.
My current setup right now are the following:
- 1 Asus RT-N16 (with TomatoUSB 1.28 VPN)
- 1 PS3
- 1 Wii
- 4 Roku Boxes
- 1 LG LW-5600 Smart TV
- 1 PC (Media Server)
- 2 Ipads
- 3 Galaxy Tabs
- multiple notebooks/netbooks
A note about my devices, I bought them from the US even the TV because some devices are geo-locked at the hardware level. The PS3 is one device that has geo-restrictions. I bought the IPad locally but my account is US specific. I have 2 US bought Galaxy Tabs that got the US apps and a locally acquired Galaxy Tab that won't out of the box. However, any PC/Netbook/Notebook will work. Please take note of these before moving forward.
All my devices are being served under the Asus RT-N16 which is connected to the VPN, thus providing it with the US IP. My VPN provider is StrongVPN, and it is definitely reliable and highly recommended. The support that they provide is exceptional, the users at forums where all active and helpful, everybody trying to help each other with their problems. I think they were the pioneers in getting routers to use VPN services, as at the time I signed up in early 2010 they were the only ones providing this kind of solution. At ~US$5.00/mo with servers all over the world not just in the US, they are competitive, but its the service and reliability that is uncomparable. As you can see, I am a fan of StrongVPN, and it has provided me with access to geo-locked sites like Netflix for this past years, I don't think my neighbor can say that.
So why am I writing again about using a VPN, well, it is because I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to share the experience. So I did recommend StrongVPN to my siblings and they did sign up, so now they are also enjoying the benefits. But then, I wanted to give it to my children when they are outside and I wanted to use it when I was outside the house, because the US ip is stuck in my house inside my router. Now I could just order additional IPs from StrongVPN and be done with it, but with three (3) children and me, the cost will now not be ~US$5.00/mo but ~US$25.00/mo, more than what I was willing to shell out, especially since it will only be used occasionally, so now I had to come up with a better solution for me. And I am from a third world country and we don't *** money.
The solution was a renting a VPS. A VPS is a Virtual Private Server (VPS) or simply put a computer in the cloud. After evaluating several providers, I finally chose RamNode which has 2 server locations, one in Atlanta and the other in Seattle. Ramnode is professional, the service was quick, there was no live chat like in StrongVPN but the tickets get answered quickly. The SolusVM panel was easy to use although did not find it at first (upper right-hand corner of the RamNode website). The Ramnode VPS cost me around ~US$24/year, yes that is per year. The ~US$20/year gives me access to an unmanaged server. "Unmanaged", meaning I am on my own, RamNode is not obliged to help you in setting the services in your VPS, the support is just making sure that VPS is up and running. So they will support your machine but not your VPN solution. So you see this solution does not come without hitches. This solution are not meant for people who are not comfortable with terms like CLI, iptables, linux, apt-get, yum, etc.
It was fortunate that I am familiar with Linux and have been using it for a while now. So to get a US IP, it was as simple as installing OpenVPN on my RamNode VPS formatted with Ubuntu and just created certificates for my different clients. Please read my article on how to setup an OpenVPN server. So now, I am my VPN provider.
In conclusion, if you are not a "techie" and don't want to be bothered by configurations and server management and still want a US IP or IPs in other countries (Britain, HK, etc), I highly recommend you get StrongVPN and be done with it. If you are more adventurous, then get your very own RamNode VPS, and come up with your own solution.
If you want to get a StrongVPN account please do help me out and use this link.
If you want to get a RamNode VPS please do help me out and use this link.
If you want to get a BlueVM VPS, please do help me out and use this link.
Figure 1: Hulu without US IP
Figure 2: Hulu with US IP (5 minutes later)