Thankfully, no matter where you are, you should be able to unblock YouTube using a VPN (a Virtual Private Network). This will tunnel all of your internet traffic through an intermediary server in a location of your choice, masking your IP address and making it appear that you’re in a different location. You’ll be able to watch YouTube (and other blocked services) from your office, school, or abroad, anywhere in the world.
What’s more, when you use a VPN, all of your traffic is encrypted, so nobody can see what you’re doing online or track your activity. This includes Internet Service Providers (ISPs), network administrators, and cybercriminals.
In this post, we’ll explain where and why YouTube is blocked and reveal the best VPNs for unblocking YouTube. We’ll also explain why you should avoid free VPNs and proxies and what to do if VPNs are blocked, too.
Where and why is YouTube blocked?
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve come up against a YouTube block at some point or another. You may have encountered a network block put in place by network administrators, in places like offices and schools. Then there are blocks enforced by governments that cover entire regions. Sometimes the entire YouTube site is off-limits, while in other cases, it’s just certain pieces of content.
YouTube blocked at work
Employers will often block access to sites that can be a source of distraction, such as streaming sources, ecommerce sites, and social media platforms. As we all know, YouTube can be a productivity killer, and it’s no surprise that employers would prefer their workers didn’t spend hours on end watching videos. Note that using a VPN to bypass blocks at work could be a breach of contract, so check this before you begin.
YouTube blocked at school
In a similar vein, schools want to help students focus on their studies, rather than waste time watching videos. They also want to prevent students from accessing inappropriate content while at school. Note that it’s usually possible for network administrators to selectively block access, so that certain people, for example, faculty members, could view YouTube content, while others (students) can’t.
Various countries have blocked YouTube in the past and a handful have current blocks in place. Countries currently blocking YouTube include China, Iran, and North Korea. Reasons for these blocks include controlling which content citizens have access to and enabling local YouTube competitors to flourish. If YouTube is blocked in your country, you may not be able to access the site at all. If a particular piece of content is blocked, you’ll likely see an error message that says something like: “The uploader has not made this video available in your country.”
How to unblock YouTube using a VPN
Thankfully, bypassing these restrictions is simple. Using a VPN, you can mask your real IP address and replace it with one from an intermediary server in your chosen location. This will make it appear that you’re outside of the restricted network or region. Here’s how to unblock YouTube using a VPN:
- Sign up with your chosen VPN provider (we recommend ExpressVPN), submit payment, and make a note of your new username and password.
- Download the appropriate app for your device. Most top-rated VPN providers offer apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
- Install and run the app and use your new credentials (username and password) to log in.
- Connect to a server in an appropriate location. For example, for a school or office, you may simply want to connect to the closest server to your current location to get the fastest speed. To bypass a country restriction, you’ll want to select a server in a country where YouTube access is not restricted.
- Once the connection is confirmed, you can start enjoying YouTube normally.
Note that you may need to refresh the page or open a new browser window for it to work.
USE A FREE VPN TO UNBLOCK YOUTUBE: If you only need to unblock YouTube for a short time, you can use ExpressVPN’s 30-day trial period to get completely free access. You’ll need to sign up with your payment information, but you can easily cancel any time within the first 30 days and get a full refund. This is ideal if you’re just visiting a country where YouTube is blocked, or working temporarily at an office where access is restricted.
Best VPNs for unblocking YouTube
In theory, most VPNs should be able to help you unblock YouTube. However, not all VPNs are the same, and differ in terms of speed, reliability, security, customer service, and more. We test out a lot of VPNs to find out where their strengths lie. We’ve compiled a list of the best VPNs for unblocking YouTube based on the following criteria:
- Has the ability to bypass network and country YouTube restrictions
- Offers a fast, reliable service suitable for HD streaming
- Operates a network of global servers
- Provides easy-to-use desktop and mobile apps
- Uses strong encryption and provides additional security features
- Maintains a no logs policy
- Provides excellent customer support
Here is our list of the best VPNs for YouTube:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for YouTube for a number of reasons. It operates a vast network of over 2,000 servers spanning 94 countries, and all are optimized for speed. This provider is known for its reliable connections and unblocking abilities, so you’ll be able to enjoy YouTube, as well as access to sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and more. It even works in China, so you can access YouTube if you’re living or traveling there. Top-notch customer support in the form of 24/7 live chat means help is always at hand if you run into issues.
ExpressVPN has a best-in-class security suite, including 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch, This means your information will always stay inside the encrypted tunnel so no one can snoop and discover that you’re bypassing the blocks in place. This provider won’t keep logs of any personally identifiable information, so you never have to worry about information being handed over to a third party.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. There are various router configurations available too, if you’d like to cover your entire home network.
RISK-FREE DEAL: Readers can get 49% off an ExpressVPN annual plan plus 3 months free. As mentioned, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk at all.
Check out our full ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is another great provider. This one runs a huge network of more than 4,500 servers, many of which are optimized for streaming HD video. It can help you unblock YouTube, along with popular streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. NordVPN is another VPN service that works in China.
This provider has a strong focus on security and privacy with a zero-logs policy, “military-grade” encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, a kill switch, and automatic wifi protection.
Apps are available for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
EXCLUSIVE OFFER: You can save big when you go long. Signing up for a two year NordVPN plan will get you 66% off, so you’ll pay only $3.99 per month.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is a very suitable VPN for unblocking YouTube. This provider is expanding its network and has around 1,700 servers in over 60 countries. It can help you unblock YouTube from anywhere and will provide access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and lots more. Surfshark works in China and in other countries where VPNs are often blocked.
No logs are maintained at all so you can be sure your information remains private. Aside from strong encryption, a kill switch, and leak protection, Surfshark provides a ton of additional security features. These include automatic wifi protection, split tunneling, double-hop VPN, and an anti-malware feature.
Apps are available for Linux, Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
BEST DEAL: Save 84% on the 3 year plan. All plans come with a 30 day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of Surfshark here.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost is one VPN provider that has been making a name for itself in the realm of streaming. It has a growing network of servers and delivers some fast speeds. What’s more, it has a dedicated “Unblock Streaming” mode in which you can select the channel you want to watch and be automatically directed to the appropriate server. YouTube and YouTube Red (Premium) are options, as are Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
You’ll have no issues with security with this provider: it uses 256-bit encryption, and provides protection from DNS leaks. There’s a kill switch built in that will kill the internet connection in case your VPN connection happens to drop.
CyberGhost apps are available for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
SAVE 77%: Sign up for just one year and get 77% off, plus six months free. A 30-day money-back guarantee makes this a risk-free purchase.
Delve into our in-depth CyberGhost review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish is a popular VPN service with excellent streaming capabilities. It’s fast and reliable, and can unblock various services, including YouTube. This one is very popular with torrenters and Kodi users due to its Android APK and the fact that its remote control friendly.
IPVanish is dedicated to providing users with a secure and private service and keeps no logs whatsoever of user activity or session history. It uses 256-bit encryption and perfect forward secrecy, and comes with a kill switch and DNS leak protection.
IPVanish has desktop clients for Windows and MacOS, and mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN is a smaller and newer provider than its top competitors, but that doesn’t seem to be slowing it down. Indeed, it pegs some of the fastest speeds we’ve seen and continues to impress when it comes to unblocking various services, including YouTube.
PrivateVPN is as private as they come and keeps no logs whatsoever. It uses strong encryption: 128-bit or 256-bit, depending on your chosen protocol. You’ll feel even more secure with DNS leak protection and a built in kill switch.
This provider has apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
Check out our full PrivateVPN review.
Can I use a free VPN to unblock YouTube?
If you haven’t come across a ton of free VPN offerings already, there’s no doubt that you will soon enough. These services purport to provide similar services to their paid counterparts, but the reality is usually very different.
Free VPNs typically offer a handful of servers in a few locations. These need to be shared among a lot of users (because everyone loves something for free). However, this means limited capacity and a potentially long wait time to connect to an inevitably slow server. Even if you do manage to connect to a server in a location you want, chances are it won’t work to unblock YouTube anyway.
What’s more, while using these free services, your security and privacy are at risk. Some free VPNs that claim to encrypt your traffic actually don’t, and some will even go a step further an infect your device with malware.
Clearly, it’s worth steering clear of these services and paying a few dollars per month for a top-rated paid provider.
Can I use a proxy to unblock YouTube?
Along with free VPNs, you’ll find plenty of advertisements for free proxies, some even designed specifically for unblocking YouTube. While these seem very attractive, especially the tailor-made options such as YouTubeProxy.win, you’ll often run into some of the same issues you would with free VPNs. These services will have a limited number of locations, and may be unable to bypass the restrictions you’re facing.
Plus, a proxy server won’t encrypt your traffic like a VPN will, so you’re leaving your information completely exposed to anyone wanting to snoop on what you’re doing online. The major advantage a proxy may have over a VPN is that there shouldn’t be any noticeable slowdowns because there’s no encryption step. However, with many top VPNs offering excellent speeds, that extra security is worth it.
YouTube country restrictions
There’s a long history of various countries blocking access to YouTube within their borders. Possible reasons could be to enable local competitors to flourish or to have greater control over the content citizens have access to.
Currently, YouTube is known to be blocked in China, Iran, and North Korea. But it has been blocked in the past by governments in other countries including Russia, Sudan, and Thailand.
Sometimes, governments will block select content, while in other cases, it will block the entire site. For example, YouTube has been completely blocked in Sudan on two occasions. The first block, in 2010, was in response to YouTube publishing an electoral fraud video. The second block occurred in 2012 and was in retaliation for YouTube’s refusal to remove the anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims.
Aside from YouTube, governments block other sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Most prominent are the restrictions in China; the country’s Great Firewall is designed to block a plethora of sites and even blocks most VPNs. Thankfully, a few VPNs still work in China and can help you unblock YouTube and other sites while visiting.
What if VPNs are blocked too?
As alluded to above, it’s not just websites like YouTube, Facebook, and Amazon that you may find are blocked. Many network administrators have caught on to the fact that proxies, including VPNs, are used to bypass their restrictions. So it’s understandable that they put measures in place to stop them. You may find access to VPN websites is blocked, and VPN connections can be detected and blocked, too.
Similarly, some countries block VPN websites and connections. China is probably the most well-known blocker of VPNs. While they’re not completely illegal there, some VPN providers have been shut down, arrested and sentenced. Even so, VPN usage remains very popular in China.
However, there are ways around these restrictions. For VPN traffic to be blocked, it needs to be recognized as VPN traffic. Some top-rated VPN providers use obfuscation technology that renders VPN traffic unrecognizable. If your VPN doesn’t utilize this technology, you may still be in luck. Sometimes switching to port 443 will be enough to bypass a firewall. Port 443 is used for HTTPS traffic, so your VPN connection will appear to just be accessing a secure website. If port switching isn’t an option in your VPN client, you can ask your provider for help. They may even have dedicated servers that access that port.
YouTube also receives pressure from governments, organizations, and individuals to remove certain pieces of content. Again, this might be copyrighted material or content that violates privacy, but could also be content that involves things like hate speech or strong political views.
YouTube states in its terms that its content is geared toward children 13 years and older, but it has agreed to a clamp down on inappropriate videos aimed at young children.
YouTube and privacy
One area that we haven’t touched on yet when it comes to using YouTube is user privacy. YouTube is owned by Google, a company that thrives on user data. As with any other Google product, when you use YouTube, Google is collecting data about everything you do, including what you’re watching and what you “like” and comment on. It serves you ads based on your user profile from this site and other sites you’ve visited around the web.
The way it tracks you is by your IP address and cookies. However, if you’re using a VPN, your IP address will be masked and won’t be tied to you, the individual user. This will also keep your browsing data away from network administrators, as well as your ISP and any other snoopers. Combine your VPN with your web browser’s “incognito” or “private browsing” mode to hide your IP address and avoid cookies.
Of course, it’s not just your privacy that you have to consider. YouTube is hugely popular with kids of all ages, so you have to consider their privacy, too. There have been recent complaints to the US Federal Trade Commission by child advocacy groups regarding this issue. But so far YouTube is hiding behind its terms and conditions which state that it’s aimed at children over 13 (who are not as heavily protected by privacy laws). Meanwhile, it continues to collect children’s data. Thankfully, using a VPN and browsing in incognito mode can prevent YouTube from recording data about your child.
See also: Privacy focused alternatives to Google
Other YouTube products
What about access to other YouTube products such as YouTube Music, YouTube Premium (previously YouTube Red), and YouTube TV? Well, it depends on the network you’re connected to and whether they’ve decided to block the URLs associated with these services.
YouTube Music is a music-only site where you can listen to songs (but not watch their accompanying videos). Since this is just a music streaming service, it’s unlikely that you’ll find this blocked within your office or school network, although it could be blocked by governments. If you do find yourself locked out, a VPN will be able to help.
YouTube Premium is a paid subscription service which enables you to watch YouTube videos and YouTube Music content without having to endure advertisements. This service is only available in 17 countries, such as the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, France, and Germany. If you’re outside of the eligible countries, you won’t be able to access the service. However, you can use a VPN to spoof your location and regain access.
YouTube TV is an over-the-top provider available to users in the US. It provides content from channels such as ABC, CBS, and FOX, and tailors your available content based on your home and current locations. However, if you’re signed up and traveling outside of the US, you’ll likely get an error message telling you that content is unavailable. All you need to do is connect to a US VPN server and you should be able to get back in.
- 1 Where and why is YouTube blocked?
- 2 How to unblock YouTube using a VPN
- 3 Best VPNs for unblocking YouTube
- 4 1. ExpressVPN
- 5 2. NordVPN
- 6 3. Surfshark
- 7 4. CyberGhost
- 8 5. IPVanish
- 9 6. PrivateVPN
- 10 Can I use a free VPN to unblock YouTube?
- 11 Can I use a proxy to unblock YouTube?
- 12 YouTube country restrictions
- 13 What if VPNs are blocked too?
- 14 YouTube censorship
- 15 YouTube and privacy
- 16 Other YouTube products