Kodi is a substitute for satellite or cable TV, with a range of implementations. You can install the Kodi player on a PC, Mac, mobile device, or you can buy a set-top box for your TV, which behaves just like the box that the cable TV company provides.
We’ve covered Kodi in the past, in these articles:
Which should give you a good head start on figuring out what Kodi is and how to use it. Whatever you decide to do with Kodi on, remember that it’s simply a media player with a collection of links to all the streaming services on the Web.
As the content you watch through Kodi comes off the Internet, you’ll encounter the same problems that everyone else does when trying to access streamed content from overseas. Media streaming sites like to limit access to entertainment so that only people in the same country, as them, are allowed to watch, so they put regional restrictions that can detect a viewer’s location.
If you’re not in a permitted location, you will get a warning message instead of the video. No matter what trick you try, you can’t play the show. The streaming service knows where a computer is located because when it communicates with servers over the Internet, it shows your IP address, which includes a country code.
If your request for a show didn’t have an address on it, the server wouldn’t know where to send the asked-for content. However, this gives your location away and the server simply refuses to send any of its videos out of the country.
A simple solution to this problem is to approach the server with an address that is in the right country. However, your computer can’t just put a fake address on your communications, because then the server would send the video off to that other address and not to you. If you get someone in the right country to make the request for you and then forward on the response, the problem is solved.
And this is exactly what VPNs do.
VPNs were originally created as a stronger form of security to ensure privacy on the Internet than what standard encryption delivers. The difference between VPN “tunneling” and encryption is that VPNs encrypt an entire data packet, including its routing information, not just the payload. The encrypted packet is carried inside an outer packet that is addressed to a VPN’s server.
When you turn on VPN software it diverts all of your communications to the VPN server, instead of to the one that your browser has specified.
When these bundled packets arrive at the server, the receiving VPN program strips off the carrying structure of each of them, decrypts the original packet and then sends it on to the specified server. The VPN puts its address in the source address field of the header.
If you want to get into a site in the U.S., from the UK and that site has regional restrictions, selecting a VPN server in the US will get your request for a video responded to. The streaming server answers the VPN server address with the requested content. The VPN server then bundles up the arriving packets of the response and forwards them on to you.
Thus, the streaming video arrives at your computer seamlessly, as if your browser had gone directly to the media server.
So, VPNs can enable access to overseas content through a Kodi box or media player. However, streaming sites are onto VPN services and if they detect that a request has come through one of them, they block it. Some VPNs get detected, whereas others can trick the streaming servers into thinking they are dealing with a viewer directly.
Keeping ahead of the game is an expensive and time consuming pursuit, so generally, free VPNs aren’t up to the job. Fortunately, there are a lot of VPN providers out there that are staffed with expert technicians with the skills to get through regional restrictions.
Throttling and Copyright
There is just one more complication. Internet service providers don’t like their customers using entertainment streaming services, and they are particularly angry about Kodi’s rise in popularity. Breaking regional restrictions is technically a breach of copyright, and governments have tasked ISPs with the job of preventing illegal access to copyrighted material. Kodi has recently taken off in the UK with many people ditching their expensive paid media packages and grabbing free entertainment instead.
Unfortunately, all of the major players in the provision of Internet services also offer their entertainment packages, and they are fuming that Kodi is damaging their profit line. Sky, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk are all coming down hard on Kodi users.
They send out warning letters when they detect access to overseas media streaming sites. If customers don’t desist, their Internet gets cut off, while still having to pay off their minimum contract period. Another trick practiced by jealous ISPs is called “throttling,” which reduces the bandwidth available to certain applications, such as video streaming sites.
The reduced service level on specific types of traffic saves the ISP from having to spend on more capacity, while still keeping to their promise of delivering high speeds for general Internet traffic. This reduction in service can cripple a video to the point of becoming unwatchable.
VPNs mask the content and destination of all data packets that pass back and forth through an ISP’s computers. So the ISPs can’t tell what type of traffic is going to you, so they can’t penalize you for watching streaming video, with slower speeds.
This review will be recommending five top of the range VPN services, and each of these providers will dodge detection efforts by ISPs and fool the toughest regional restrictions on streaming sites. If you want to experience the best entertainment from all over the world, on your Kodi box, subscribe to any one of these VPNs.
ExpressVPN is King of the Hill right now, and there’s a lot of buzz about the company within the VPN industry.
ExpressVPN on computers and mobile devices installs quickly and is easy-to-use. If you have a Kodi box, you have the option of either installing the VPN on your device or on the Wi-Fi router that covers your home.
ExpressVPN has one of the widest server networks in the world. Remember, if you want to get around regional restrictions, you need to connect to a VPN server in the same country as the streaming website.
So, ExpressVPN gives you a much wider selection of countries that you can grab entertainment from via Kodi. Putting a VPN on your computer or router doesn’t get you into paid sites without any restrictions.
However, those subscription streaming services have some of the toughest regional constraints in the business and ExpressVPN can get into them, including Netflix in the US. Along with VPNArea, ExpressVPN has the strongest encryption procedures in the industry and can ensure privacy even in places such as China.
Why We Like It
ExpressVPN can get into any media site as long as you have a subscription to it.
Their vast server network gives you more entertainment-related options than just about every other VPN service on the planet.
The ability to protect customers in China, where the state has very advanced VPN detection methods, shows that the technicians of this company are the best in the business.
The company’s location in the British Virgin Islands and its strict no-logs policy guarantees protection from prosecution from copyright infringement.
IPVanish’s infrastructure was built specifically to provide a state-of-the-art and superfast VPN service. The company runs its own cables and is a Tier-1 network, which means it has direct contact with every corner of the Internet.
Speed is important when one wants to watch streaming video, because pauses for buffering, or jumps in the show at the point of an important plot twist can ruin the experience.
The IPVanish server network operates in 60 countries around the globe giving access to some of the best entertainment channels through your Kodi box. This VPN isn’t quite as technically advanced as the other ones on our list here, because it can’t dodge Netflix’s proxy detection system.
The company operates out of Orlando, Florida, which makes them vulnerable to pressure from litigation by copyright holders. However, IPVanish keeps no activity logs — so even a court order can’t force the company to hand over records it doesn’t have.
If you go around to a friend’s house to use your Kodi on their TV, you don’t need to worry that someone back home is viewing Kodi at the same time. Try sharing an account with four friends to bring down the service’s cost.
Why We Like It
The service’s speed is excellent and certainly fast enough to enjoy HD streaming from anywhere in the world.
The company is fine with torrenting as well, so you can download in peace if you want to supplement streaming with stored video.
A subscription gets you the right to connect five devices simultaneously, so you can install it on your router at home to cover your Kodi viewing there, and then have it on a smartphone as well.
The no-logs policy should also keep you safe from prosecution, despite the company’s vulnerable location in the U.S.
PureVPN has an easy-to-use app, and it can be installed on routers to get your whole house, including your Kodi box, covered. PureVPN’s server network will give your Kodi access to all those steamy Latin soaps from Mexico and Brazil, or the latest Samurai epic from Japan.
Its obfuscation methods were primarily written with the digital Great Wall of China in mind, so it’s a good option if you have Kodi in that country.
On the corporate level, PureVPN can slip past the Netflix proxy detection system, so you have a good chance of getting into every other streaming service on the planet with this VPN provider.
Although the company might be a little vulnerable to pressure from Chinese copyright owners, lawyers from Europe and North America probably will never even attempt to fight through the Hong Kong legal system to get to your activity logs, which are non-existent, anyway.
Why We Like It
You can have up to five simultaneous connections with this service, and the two-year subscription plan makes this the cheapest service on our list.
And it provides access to streaming services from a wider range of countries than just about any other VPN.
Despite investing in a lot of locations, PureVPN is the cheapest of the five in our list (opt for the two-year subscription period to get the best deal).
Their server network stretches across 57 countries. That’s not as extensive as ExpressVPN or PureVPN infrastructures, but at least they cover most of the world’s entertainment hotspots.
You can install the app on:
And you can manually set it up on Linux machines and routers. NordVPN is a good bet if you’re located in a repressive country such as Iran, Pakistan, or China, where there are serious legal ramifications to using a VPN or accessing foreign streaming sites.
The company uses the “Obsfproxy” cloaking method, which even the Chinese authorities can’t spot. That’s also good news for those in the UK, who have local ISPs breathing down their necks. The chances of throttling get reduced to near-zero thanks to NordVPN’s detection avoidance procedures.
Why We Like It
NordVPN is a technically competent VPN that is very easy-to-use.
The app is based on a map of the world, just double-click on a country marker to get connected to a server in that location.
Like PureVPN, NordVPN has a two-year subscription plan that brings the monthly cost of the service down significantly.
You can have six simultaneous connections, which opens up the possibility of account sharing.
The company is based in Panama, which has no requirements for digital services to keep activity logs.
The company’s operation base in Bulgaria throws foreign languages in the path of English speaking copyright lawyers, and the company takes advantage of its registered address in Switzerland, and keeps no activity logs, as the Swiss government does not require them to be held.
The company’s server network includes locations in 68 countries, which puts it in the same ballpark as NordVPN and IPVanish. If you don’t want to commit to a two-year subscription to get the best offer from PureVPN or NordVPN, then a one-year subscription is your cheapest option on this list. The six permitted simultaneous connections match the deal given by NordVPN and make this a good plan to share with friends.
VPNArea can get into just about any streaming service in the world, including Netflix in the US and the UK. Its cloaking methods can fool the Chinese authorities and will bypass snooping by your ISP.
The app installs itself and features large, plainly labeled buttons. Server selection can be performed via a drop-down list right in the middle of the application’s main screen.
Why We Like It
As with all the other VPNs on this list, the site offers alternative VPN protocols that can be setup manually, and there are detailed instructions to get VPNArea operational on:
Unless someone travels to every country in the world to test each of these top five VPNs for Kodi, you’ll never get a review that can precisely mimic personal circumstances.
That’s why it is important to try a VPN that offers a money-back guarantee, so you can be sure that the service gets you into the channels that you want to watch on Kodi before you get locked in. A trial period is particularly important if you are considering the two-year subscription offers from PureVPN and NordVPN.
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The 30-day money back guarantees offered by NordVPN and ExpressVPN are especially useful, but the seven-day money-back guarantee provided by the other three VPNs in this list should give you enough time to make sure that the services do what you want. And on that note, have you tried using a VPN to watch shows on Kodi? Did you manage to upload the software directly onto a set-top box, or onto a router?
If you have any tips you’d like to share with the world, then leave a comment below. Your experience can help others learn how to get the best out of Kodi.