Don’t you hate it when YouTube content is blocked?
Picture this: you just found out your favorite artist (or their record label) uploaded a new music video. Excited, you do a quick search and click on the thumbnail.
It opens up and… “Video unavailable: The uploader has not made this video available in your country.”
Whatever the reason, these 5 ways to unblock YouTube are your best bet for watching that video!
Why is the Video Not Available in My Country?
While it doesn’t only happen with music videos, let’s stick with that example for now.
Unless the artist is mixing and producing their own work, there’s a record company who owns the distribution rights. This means they have a marketing team working together with their legal team to set up distribution deals around the world.
And sometimes, that deal gives sole distribution rights to a single broadcasting company, at least for a limited amount of time. And until that deal expires, that company is the only one in their country legally allowed to broadcast the music.
The exact same thing often happens with other kinds of visual media. This is also why online streaming platforms like Netflix have different content libraries for different countries!
But sometimes, it also happens that the content is available in your country – it’s just your school or workplace blocked YouTube. This happens because administration is trying to promote productivity by eliminating distractions.
If you find the latter is the case, then you should recognize those blocks are there for a good reason.
However, it’s also overkill.
YouTube has long been considered the second-biggest search engine, processing more search queries than Bing, Yahoo!, and Ask combined. It’s also estimated 300+ hours of video content is uploaded onto YouTube every minute.
While it’s not true for most YouTube content, the fact remains that’s a lot of research opportunity being blocked! Plus, research has shown listening to music while you work increases your productivity levels.
Overall, online censorship is a bad thing. And when it comes to YouTube, it’s often counterproductive.
The Political Question
Copyright and productivity issues aside, there’s also a far more serious form of online censorship that results in YouTube videos being blocked.
Countries with dictatorial regimes, like China and North Korea, block YouTube entirely. With varying degrees of success, this is meant to prevent the population from seeing what life is like outside of these countries and protect the ruling party’s supremacy.
In other countries with religious theocracies, like United Arab Emirates, only certain types of content is blocked. Some of the content (like online gambling and adult content) is blocked because it goes against the tenets of Islam.
But other content is blocked because it’s perceived as an attack against Islam. While in some cases this might be true, in many other cases it’s simply scientific findings.
Regardless of whether it’s a political structure or a religion the governments of these countries are trying to protect, they’re very heavy-handed. Anyone caught trying to unblock YouTube content in these countries are subject to steep fines and – more often – prison.
5 Ways to Unblock YouTube
Now that you know more about why it might be blocked in the first place, it’s time to look at 5 reliable ways to unblock YouTube content!
1. Use a Reliable VPN
By far the best way to unblock YouTube is to use a reliable VPN.
Not only will a VPN mask your IP, allowing you to get through firewalls and bypass geo-location blocks, but it will also encrypt your data. This means it’s pretty much impossible for anyone to detect your original IP address or snoop in on your online activities!
If you want to unblock YouTube and beat online censorship and government surveillance all at once, then a VPN is the way to go.
The VPNs compared below have no problems unblocking YouTube videos:
2. Modify YouTube’s URL
This second method is only likely to work when you’re trying to unblock YouTube at school or work. And even so, it’s still going to be hit-or-miss.
Modifying YouTube’s URL to unblock content relies on the network administrator having manually added the website to their firewall blacklist. If you’re lucky, they’ll only have added the https:// version.
All you need to do is change it to https:// instead.
3. Use a Proxy Add-On to Unblock YouTube
Once again, while a reliable option, using a proxy isn’t always guaranteed to work. This is especially true for trying to get around government censorship!
A proxy website or browser add-on (like ProxTube) will filter all of your online traffic through another server. This changes the IP address the website sees as being yours.
However, it’s very easy to determine your real IP address by doing a route trace. Proxies also don’t encrypt your data, so your network administrator will be able to see that you’ve been accessing YouTube.
4. Use the TOR Browser
The Onion Router (TOR) is a proxy browser that allows you to connect to the internet via 3 “nodes” (remote servers). It’s like using a proxy site or add-on, but with extra steps and a little added security.
However, it’s still subject to the same weaknesses. While it’s a lot more difficult to trace your online activities, it is still technically possible, as your data is no longer protected when being transferred from the exit node to the website you’re accessing.
Another major weakness to using the TOR browser is it’s incredibly slow. So even though you’re able to unblock YouTube, you might be dealing with far more buffering than usual!
5. Download the Video
Let’s start with the slowest, most cumbersome method there is: downloading the content you want to watch.
This isn’t going to work in some countries, but for the most part it should. All you need is the YouTube video’s URL (which you can get from the Google search results) and a website that allows you to download the content.
There are several such websites available, though do bear in mind many of them are riddled with malware. If you’re going to use this method, make sure you have a robust anti-virus on your device!
Ultimately, you might find you prefer one method over another, or even combining methods.
But at the end of the day, using a reliable VPN is the best way to unblock YouTube.
Not all VPNs are created equal, however. If you want to make sure you’re using the best option, check out our best VPN services comparison page!