Free-to-stream platform Crackle distributes a wide array of movies and TV shows with the odd break for advertisements.
Unfortunately, Crackle is only available for streamers in the US. If you try to access it from an unsupported territory, you’ll be greeted with the following message:
“There was a problem when trying to sign in. Please try again.”
The easiest way to circumvent this problem is by logging on via a VPN.
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts all the traffic flowing to and from your device and tunnels it via an intermediary server of your choice. So if you’re trying to access Crackle from a location in Asia, for example, you can unblock it by connecting to a VPN server in the US.
Another advantage of using a VPN is that it makes it very difficult for ISPs, hackers, and surveillance agencies to monitor your internet behavior. We’ll discuss more use cases at the end of this article.
How do I use a VPN to unblock Crackle?
In this section, we’ll take you through a list of what we think are the best VPNs to unblock Crackle. They’re ranked on the following factors:
- The speed and stability of service
- An adequate amount of server locations in the US
- Strong encryption standards
- Ability to unblock restricted content
- Apps for Android and iOS
- Ease of use
ExpressVPN operates over 1,500 servers spread across 94 countries. There are 13 locations (not servers) in the US alone – that’s the highest amount in one country, so unblocking Crackle shouldn’t be a problem.
We’ve noticed that users are also attracted by its minimalist design and robust product. ExpressVPN has consistently received great feedback for service; I’ve been using it for almost a year and there’s never been any problem, which suggests it won’t let you down either.
All encryption standards incorporated in the product are military-grade; it utilizes 256-bit AES-CBC as its default encryption protocol as well as both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. There’s an internet kill switch included, which the company refers to as a ‘network lock’, – this will temporarily halt all web traffic if the connection drops unexpectedly.
A positive factor is that the service does not store any traffic logs so privacy is more or less guaranteed. There’s a small amount of metadata retention but that’s not going to unveil your identity or any other personal information. However for users that are curious, the service records the date (not time) of connection, choice of server location, and total bandwidth used. Individual IP addresses are not logged.
There are apps for both Android and iOS, making it possible to stream Crackle directly on your phone outside the US. Desktop software for Windows, MacOS, and Linux are also included.
TRY IT RISK-FREE: Get three months free with the ExpressVPN annual plan. This includes its no-quibbles 30-day money back guarantee so you’ll be reimbursed if unhappy with the service.
Here’s our review of ExpressVPN.
IPVanish operates its own servers, as opposed to other VPNs that rent or outsource to third-parties. In total, its server network numbers 1,000 across 60 countries, with 449 servers based in the US alone.
The US also serves as the company’s headquarters, but don’t let that worry you. The firm has an internal policy of zero data retention, which means any concerns regarding privacy should be allayed.
There’s also an option for anonymous signups that will further reduce the likelihood of activity being traced back to you.
In our IPVanish user review, we noticed that the service displayed no lag while streaming 1080p video. It got a bit choppy when attempting to play online games; a workaround is to attempt to play these during off-peak hours. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll face complications when streaming Crackle.
Encryption standards are top-tier. The VPN provider uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication, and a DHE-RSA 2,048-bit key exchange with perfect forward secrecy.
Apps for both iOS and Android are included as well as desktop software for Windows and MacOS.
Many users find it an excellent option for Kodi because it allows them to download the Android APK directly to their device. The interface is also remote-control friendly for Kodi devices that lack a keyboard and mouse.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Panama-headquartered NordVPN has been around for over a decade. It’s built a solid, privacy-focused product and cultivated a loyal community along the way.
At the moment there are 3360 servers spread across 60 countries. The US hosts more than 1100 of these, with options to select one based on your use case. This could be double VPN, dedicated IP, anti-DDoS, or ultra-fast streaming.
NordVPN makes use of a logless policy. It’s similar to IPVanish in that sense; there’s zero data retention.
Encryption standards are robust. It uses the 256-bit AES protocol by default coupled with 2,048-bit SSL keys. DNS leak protection is enabled.
NordVPN can unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, and a bunch of other streaming services. So if your explicit purpose is to stream Crackle with a VPN, we think this service should be able to do that task easily.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well a desktop client for Windows and MacOS.
Here’s our full review of NordVPN.
Cyberghost keeps things simple. It’s a reliable provider that’s relatively inexpensive if you opt for a long-term package. The company has also doubled down on firming up the product ever since its acquisition by a UK-based firm last year. It’s added a number of new server locations across the world and improved encryption standards.
Cyberghost doesn’t log user behavior or browsing habits. It’s also headquartered in Romania, which means it’s out of the purview of pesky surveillance agencies in the West.
At the moment there’s a total of 1,317 server locations. The United States hosts 217 of them.
Cyberghost deploys 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default along with 2,048-bit RSA keys and MD5 HMAC authentication. An internet kill switch is included.
It’s able to unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. The VPN client also has an option of selecting the streaming service you want after which it’ll point you in the right direction i.e. which server to connect to. That can potentially save you from a lot of hassle.
Apps are available for both Android and iOS as well as desktop software for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of Cyberghost.
PrivateVPN is a relative newcomer to the VPN space but that doesn’t discount its product in any way. There’s a smaller network of servers than the others mentioned in this list, but it still encompasses more than 50 countries including 10 locations (not servers) in the US.
You can opt for either 128 or 256-bit encryption depending on the chosen protocol. The service adds an internet kill switch and DNS leak protection as additional security safeguards. It rounds up the privacy offerings by declining to store any logs of user activity, which our readers should definitely take into consideration.
PrivateVPN is also able to unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and HBO, so accessing Crackle should be fairly straightforward.
It offers apps for iOS and Android as well as a desktop server for Windows and MacOS.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN.
Should I use a free VPN?
A cursory search on the interwebs will uncover a bunch of free VPNs.
Such services appear tempting. To the best of our knowledge, free VPNs don’t ask for a credit card at the time of signup. They also heavily advertise the fact that they’re free, hoodwinking users into thinking that all their requirements can be met without forking over a dime.
We urge you to read between the lines.
Free VPNs have been known to deploy some pretty weak encryption standards, and there’s certainly no vast network of servers to choose from. In some cases, they’ll impose bandwidth throttling and only allow a certain number of connections at one time. This means you might be forced to wait in line until another user disconnects or experience extremely slow speeds even after a connection has been established.
Some free VPNs are also in the business of mining user data by inserting tracking cookies and reaping windfall profits by selling the data to advertisers. Others come bundled with malware. It’s important to understand that such services are trying to profit off the end user, i.e. you. At the very least you can expect a bunch of invasive advertisements and annoying pop-up alerts urging you to download obscure software.
It’s in your best interests to avoid such services. If you’re strapped for cash, check out our list of the best VPNs with a free trial.
Some VPNs to avoid
We’ve outlined a general scenario of why you should opt to avoid free VPNs in the previous section. But when you talk about VPNs, one of the core use cases is the fact that you would like to remain hidden and secure on the web. No one wants their digital footprint to be splashed all over the internet.
Our recommended list of VPNs have done a solid job of protecting user rights and privacy. However, there are some that have betrayed users’ trust. We think it’s in your best interests to avoid them if possible.
Here are three such examples:
Israel-based Hola makes use of a peer-to-peer system which means it’s slightly different than mainstream VPN services. At one point it had almost 50 million downloads, signifying its popularity with privacy enthusiasts. However, it chose to exploit the community by leveraging them as pawns in a massive botnet army. A part of Hola users’ idle bandwidth was deployed to attack other websites and distribute copyrighted content.
2. Hotspot Shield
Hotspot Shield has offered a free VPN service for several years. It had never been associated with any wrongdoing until last July when a privacy advocacy body determined that it had quietly been running a data harvesting machine. The company was deemed to have forcefully hijacked legitimate HTTP requests and redirect them to affiliate sites where it stood to earn hard cash. It apparently also inserted tracking cookies into users’ browsers in order to mine data and sell to advertisers.
There’s some sordid details here but the TL;DR version is that PureVPN deliberately misled users on its apparent policy of not storing any logs.
The company collaborated with the FBI to track down a cybercriminal who had been using its software to engage in online blackmail. We’re not condoning the actions of the criminal in any shape or form, but the caveat here is that the company opted to widely advertise its ‘no-logs’ policy. Apparently, that wasn’t explicitly true as metadata retained by the firm was used to identify the culprit.
I’ve downloaded a VPN. What do I do next to access Crackle?
Follow these simple steps once you’ve settled on a provider (we recommend one of the paid options on our list), registered with the service, and downloaded the native software on your phone or desktop:
- Clear your cookies and cache to remove old location identifiers
- Restart your device
- Login to the VPN app and select a server in the US
- Wait for a connection to be established – this is usually indicated by a green light in your taskbar or at the top of your smartphone screen
- Open your phone or browser and use Crackle like you normally would
How do I access Crackle on streaming media devices?
Crackle is compliant with Roku, Amazon Fire, Xbox, Playstation, Android TV, and Apple TV.
These devices don’t have inbuilt support for VPN apps the same way your PC or Mac does. However, you’re still able to access Crackle if you leverage the VPN on a virtual router – akin to how smartphones set up mobile wifi hotspots.
You can also set up a VPN on a physical router if the firmware supports it. One such firmware is DD-WRT, a free and open source option that works on a wide range of router models. Learn more about DD-WRT and the best VPNs for it here.
What else can I do with a VPN?
The core focus of this article is to outline the best options to unblock Crackle with a VPN, but that’s not the solitary thing that a paid VPN subscription can accomplish.
Unblock other streaming content
At the end of the day, VPNs mask your identity and make it impossible for the host website to uncover your actual location. So if you’re logging in from South Africa, for example, but selecting a server in the US, any website you log on to will assume that you’re actually based there. US-specific content like Vudu, ESPN, and Vevo shall automatically open up too.
Access public wifi
A VPN is also a solid bet to safely access public wifi in places like malls and coffee shops. Such networks are usually insecure and hackers are lurking close by. The last thing you want to do is access your online banking on an insecure network lest some hackers get control of your password and siphon away all your cash. A VPN will ensure that your connection is encrypted and secure, therefore aspiring hackers will largely be kept at bay.
We can’t guarantee that this is an indestructible method to secure your connection. But you’re still setting yourself up for the best case scenario by opting to use a VPN.
Blog online safely
If you’re a blogger that’s writing about government misdemeanors or a whistleblower at a company or state agency, the last thing you want is for your identity to be unearthed. Using a VPN while engaging in blogging can also protect you. Our guide to blogging online safely is a useful resource in this case.
We’ll conclude with the consideration that you should generally look to use a VPN even for everyday web browsing. After all, governments are ramping up the scale and scope of online monitoring and snooping. That’s despite all the public outcry over the Snowden revelations and the ensuing debate. Most governments are ploughing ahead with their efforts to regain control of the web, so don’t assume you’re automatically shielded.
VPNs can mitigate the risk of privacy invasion to a considerable degree. You’re not breaking any laws by opting to use one, and a few additional dollars each month will go a long way to ensure you’re safe and secure on the web.
Most VPNs (especially the ones that we’ve recommended in this list) are easy to install and designed keeping newbie users in mind. You don’t need to be scared by the sophisticated algorithms powering the software or be concerned by any deleterious impact that it might have on your device. It works the same way as any other well-designed software might by deploying adequate safeguards and minimizing the use of system resources.
What’s the history of Crackle?
Crackle, originally known as Grouper before its acquisition by Sony in 2007, was founded by Josh Felser, Dave Samuel, Mike Sitirin, and Aviv Eyal in 2000. It’s a free-to-stream platform that distributes original web shows, Hollywood movies, and TV shows with occasional breaks for advertisements.
If you’re interested in the background story of how Crackle came into being and the events leading up to its acquisition by Sony Home Entertainment in 2007, we recommend you read this excellent interview with Recode. Fun fact: the deal almost floundered because of one founder’s desire to attend Burning Man.