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SpongeGuard

join:2009-08-09
Port Alberni, BC

Anyone using Unblock-us?

For access to USA services such as netflix, hulu, pandora, etc?
I've been contemplating it for a while, but I want to know that these guys are reliable and trustworthy before I go and pay for the service.

Incase anyone is not familiar with them, they were previously known as USVideo.org or .ca.


bushnerd0

join:2006-07-03
Sault Ste Marie, ON

»strongvpn.com/

Thats what I use for netflix, works perfectly. $55.00 a year for unlimited transfer, and its very fast.



oxymoron69

join:2004-11-10
Corbyville, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
·Kingston Online ..
reply to SpongeGuard

I use unblock.us or whatever the guy is calling it or himself (was calling himself something roth in emails, now it's tim taylor...).

I had initially went that route because I was going to get an entropay account so I could get US netflix.
As soon as I assigned my real-life CC to my entropay account, they locked me out due to fraud concerns. Thankfully I hadn't loaded my account with any funds. So F them, If I want to pay for NF or hulu+ I'll just have to get one of those reloadable Visa gift cards.

Back on topic, I pay the $5 + HST(cheaper if you pay yearly) for usvideo/unblockus and it works quite well for the standard streaming sites like Hulu, fancast and Pandora radio.
I still can't get TBS working either through their website or Boxee. Usvideo support says it works fine on their end...

As for being trustworthy, I'd say they are, in so much as you trust any other faceless random company with your DNS queries.
That being said, I use a program called DNSjumper to move back and forth from my standard DNS on the LAN and USvideos servers whenever I'm doing more sensitive work on my media PC.

Since traffic doesn't pass through their servers there's no slowdowns or transfer limits as well and you still appear to be Canadian to our own sites so you don't get weird GEO-IP restrictions.


jfmezei
Premium
join:2007-01-03
Pointe-Claire, QC
kudos:23

if your computer has a VPN to a VPN server in the USA, how do you get it to use VPN to access certan sites, and use yor local comnection for the others (such as canadian sites) ?

Do you build routes via the VPN for specific destiations such as netflix ?

With regards to TBS: they may have clued in that IPs belonging o that VPN operator is coming from abroad and decided to block access.



mlerner
Premium
join:2000-11-25
Nepean, ON
kudos:5

JF, unblock-us is not a VPN service. It uses some kind of DNS workaround. I suspect on their servers they have static DNS entries to point to the caching servers so the geolocation doesn't kick in. What Netflix and others would see is a Canadian IP but with millions of customers they aren't likely to look through every IP which is why they implement geo blocking.


jfmezei
Premium
join:2007-01-03
Pointe-Claire, QC
kudos:23

So, if the caching servers implement geoblocking, then this service becomes useless, right ?

Does this mean that if I run my own DNS, I would code in an entry for netflix.com pointing to thet ublock-us DNS server as being authoritative ?



mlerner
Premium
join:2000-11-25
Nepean, ON
kudos:5

said by jfmezei:

So, if the caching servers implement geoblocking, then this service becomes useless, right ?

Does this mean that if I run my own DNS, I would code in an entry for netflix.com pointing to thet ublock-us DNS server as being authoritative ?

I suppose it's possible but I don't quite know how Netflix does their streaming portion or even if they'd care. I used my Canadian CC with them and they still let me sign up. Been using them for about two weeks and my Netflix trial is still active.

If you're talking about creating a secondary zone, I don't think that would work unless they allowed/added your DNS server IP. On my network what I did was setup a 3rd DNS server and configured it to forward lookup requests to their servers for zones not present on my DNS server.

My DHCP is running on a Windows server (yeah i know, I work for a software company selling Microsoft solutions) so for those devices I wanted to use for Netflix I just set it as a reservation and changed the DNS option.


oxymoron69

join:2004-11-10
Corbyville, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
·Kingston Online ..
reply to SpongeGuard

unblock-us uses 2 DNS servers per geographical region.
For North America it's: 184.106.242.193 and 67.23.7.56

If you plug those in and then try to go to hulu, initially you'll get a redirect to their site where it asks you to put in an email address to start a 1 week trial.

After that you're done.
They send an email in a few days to let you know when the trial is coming to an end and then another when it's over.

From their site:

How USVideo is different from StrongVPN or HotSpot Shield?
There are several advantages of using USVideo over StrongVPN, HotSpot Shield and other VPN based or proxy solutions.

USVideo works with media players such as Roku, Apple TV, PS3, XBox and others, while VPN based solution works with computer only
None of your video/audio content or unrelated traffic goes through USVideo, therefore there is no bandwidth loss, data cap or privacy concerns.
Simpler setup, VPN works only on computer, so you need to setup it on every computer in your home.
No software to install.
Your IP remains your local IP. This may be important for other sites that you want discover your correct Geo location
Content from different countries is streamed transparently - no need to switch VPN

What about my privacy and security?
You're sending all DNS requests to our server, but we're changing routes only for sites we support.
We're trying to limit amount of data sent through our system (we're paying for every byte) and redirecting only sites directly involved in location validation.
This is much more secure than VPN or proxy solutions, where you have to send [almost] everything through their servers and you will never know what they do with this data.
DNS solution is more transparent to users and everyone can verify where data is being sent by comparing results returned by our DNS with "standard" DNS responses.

Most sites with somewhat sensitive information are using SSL encryption to protect users' data. Even if we were redirecting these sites to our server, we can't "fake" SSL certificates without being noticed (you'll see security warning in the browser when site certificate does not match with name), and wouldn't be able to see encrypted data.

Again, comparing to alternative solutions, if provider require special software installed in client's systems, then this software can either install "fake" certificates or "sniff" other users' data (e.g. passwords, credit card numbers, etc). Our solution does not require any special software, changing permissions or other potential security risks

»portal.unblock-us.com/knowledgebase/2/FAQ



El Quintron
Resident Mouth Breather
Premium
join:2008-04-28
Etobicoke, ON
kudos:4
Reviews:
·TekSavvy Cable
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to SpongeGuard

For what it's worth the service is much easier to use than setting up a VPN for devices who don't normally accept VPNs (eg PS3) you just pop static DNS entries into your router.

Much easier than configuring your router to do VPN and it's generally cheaper than a VPN too... my VPN is about 8/mo US and their service is about 5/mo US.

I think the VPN is a bit for secure and trustworthy but it took me a couple of hours to set up my router proper for it.
--
The trouble with nude dancing is that not everything stops when the music does.



slowikc

join:2011-01-23
Milton, On
reply to SpongeGuard

I've been using it for about 2 weeks now, and it was indeed really easy to set-up, and has proven to be reliable so far. No issues, no slow downs, and doesn't interfere with anything on my network.

I am however waiting for my ISP to provide a US VPN (they promised they would, just don't know when). Once they do I will likely cancel USvideo/Unblock-us not because anything is wrong with it, but just because I want to stick with things my ISP offers.


markf

join:2008-01-24
Burlington, ON
kudos:1
Reviews:
·WIND Mobile
·ELECTRONICBOX
·Execulink Telecom
reply to SpongeGuard

I use it and find it somewhat effective.

Works well for "known" sites like Netflix, Hulu, etc., but some lesser known sites including NHL.com, MLSonline, etc it recognizes me as Canadian, not American.

A VPN would probably work better across the board, but if you are limiting yourself to the bigger sites, this service works very well. No problems at all with Netflix US, or Hulu (although Hulu failed the WAF) so ultimately I'm cancelling both US Netflix and Unblock us.


jfmezei
Premium
join:2007-01-03
Pointe-Claire, QC
kudos:23

How much of geolocation is done at the DNS level ? I was under the impression that geoblocking was done at the web server level which called some module that inquires some remote geolocation database.

The BBC iPlayer is an interesting example. When they started to geoblock, the free proxies in the UK would work and you'd not only get the web content but also the videos.

Later, they wised up. The web comtent is still available via proxy, but videos are now geoblocked at the flash server level, so the video you see tells you your're not allowed to watch it.


nauru

join:2011-02-02
reply to slowikc

said by slowikc:

I am however waiting for my ISP to provide a US VPN (they promised they would, just don't know when). Once they do I will likely cancel USvideo/Unblock-us not because anything is wrong with it, but just because I want to stick with things my ISP offers.

Which ISP? And how much did they say they will charge for the VPN?


slowikc

join:2011-01-23
Milton, On

said by nauru:

said by slowikc:

I am however waiting for my ISP to provide a US VPN (they promised they would, just don't know when). Once they do I will likely cancel USvideo/Unblock-us not because anything is wrong with it, but just because I want to stick with things my ISP offers.

Which ISP? And how much did they say they will charge for the VPN?

I am with Acanac. They currently offer a free OpenVPN service with Canadian servers, and said they will be getting international servers including the US. They mentioned it will be free for the beta phase, but didn't say how much it will be after beta.

I've been waiting a while for the international servers, but they have been busy with the cable upgrades.

Pete_648

join:2001-12-20
KingstonON

I just got this all set up using a virtual credit card and
A usvideo trial

Works perfectly on the apple tv 2

Wow what a rip off us canadiens are getting
In terms of content. I hope this exploit doesn't get closed

I bought a strong VPN but it's too hard to setup on
The entire LAN I got it working on each computer
But I wanted it for apple tv I am going to get a refund



slowikc

join:2011-01-23
Milton, On
reply to SpongeGuard

Netflix was down a few days ago due to a problem at Netflix. It is now 2 days after the problem is fixed, but all of a sudden I get a problem where I am able to browse movie titles, but when I pick a movie to watch it gets stuck on the red "downloading movie information" screen.

My question is, is anyone else who is using usvideo.ca (Unblockus) to get US netflix having any issues?



mlerner
Premium
join:2000-11-25
Nepean, ON
kudos:5

Did your IP change? You have to re-authenticate on your PC, just go to netflix.com and it will redirect you to the service check page.



slowikc

join:2011-01-23
Milton, On
reply to SpongeGuard

I had OpenVPN running in the background for a different application, so my IP did change. But then I turned off OpenVPN and it still wouldn't go.

Everytime I go to netflix.com it allows me to browse, but doesn't redirect me to the service check page. How do I get there manually? I also tried to get on netflix through my PS3 and it wouldn't go either??



mlerner
Premium
join:2000-11-25
Nepean, ON
kudos:5

»check.usvideo.org/



captnhammer

join:2011-02-01
Calgary
reply to SpongeGuard

Neflix.com working fine for me this morning.

This service has opened up a whole new world for me. Got netflix working on all my devices (ipad, ipods, xboxes, ps3's, panasonic plasma, plus more), hulu is working great, got amazon vod working on my panny plasma. Really hope this service lasts. My kids are loving the US netflix, so many more options (zack and cody, wizards of waverly place) plus discovery channel shows like dirty jobs, mythbusters. It really is that much better than netflix canada. Although, I do admit netflix canada is getting better.


InvalidError

join:2008-02-03
kudos:5
reply to jfmezei

said by jfmezei:

Later, they wised up. The web comtent is still available via proxy, but videos are now geoblocked at the flash server level, so the video you see tells you your're not allowed to watch it.

Some streaming sites simply ban popular proxy/VPN servers' IPs to prevent people from using them to bypass geoblocks. Hulu did it for a bunch of those, Netflix will likely end up doing the same if they get enough pressure from their content providers.


atl2oz

@dodo.com.au
reply to SpongeGuard

I'm using this with great results in Australia. I've not had any service issues, but I've only been using for 2 weeks. We have Apple TV and stream Netflix and MLB.tv - also watch episodes of US shows online. Loving it so far.


docbill

join:2006-10-24
Stoney Creek, ON
Reviews:
·Start Communicat..
·Bell Sympatico
·Bell Fibe
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1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to SpongeGuard

said by SpongeGuard:

For access to USA services such as netflix, hulu, pandora, etc?
I've been contemplating it for a while, but I want to know that these guys are reliable and trustworthy before I go and pay for the service.

Incase anyone is not familiar with them, they were previously known as USVideo.org or .ca.

I'm just about done with their free trial. I have to say it works very reliably. The only step they forgot to include, is to clear any IPV6 name servers from your router... It took me a day to realize that was the problem why at first they did not work.

As others have commented they are not a VPN service. What they do is a DNS server that directs select websites to their proxy. This has the advantage that you get full transfer speed to anywhere on the web except those few sites in the US they support. The disadvantage is there is no user customization. So for example, you cannot view syfy website videos from Canada using it.

The actually do some clever tricks to minimize the amount of traffic that needs to go through there site. So for example, if you watch videos on hulu, if you look at the IP addresses being routed to in your router, you'll see the videos do not transfer through their website. It took me several days of playing with privoxy to figure out how they do that, and how to replicate it without their service.

Since websites regularly change their methods of GEO checking, it seems to me it is well worth the $5/month to have someone else that will sweat it if for example hulu.com changes their GEO filters.

While a VPN service is more versatile, it is also more work. e.g. If netflix suddenly blocks your vpn service, you are probably still stuck for your full service term on your vpn contract. If you want to limit what goes through your VPN tunnel, so you get faster speeds on the things that don't need VPN, then you are either going to have to do lots of firewall rules, or you are going need to regularly connect and disconnect from VPN.

Unblock-us.com is very minimal work. You set your dns servers and forget about it. The one pain is if you have a dynamic IP address that regularly changes, you have to visit their website frequently to refresh your network login. They really need an application that makes that happen automatically...

Regards,

Bill


quickbeam
Premium
join:2003-06-01
reply to SpongeGuard

Signed up last night, works great.


kuddles

join:2011-05-02
Ottawa, ON
reply to SpongeGuard

I tried out for this service this weekend and it works as advertised.

In a fit of irony over hearing about how much better the selection in the US is, I hit a bit of a negative with Netflix. It appears almost all the TV shows I was watching on the Canadian version and some movies I was planning on watching are all the ones not available on the US versions. (I was in the middle of Mad Men, Justified and Mythbusters on the Canadian Netflix. The US version doesn't carry the first two at all and only has a "best of" selection of Mythbusters episodes.)

That said, I really like how it works, and I'm happy to be listening to Pandora again. Once PSN is back online, I hope to try out Vudu.


wayner92

join:2006-01-17
Toronto, ON

But with this service it should be easy to switch back and forth between being in Canada or the US if you wanted to pay for both Netflix services. If you want to access Netflix Canada then you could just change your DNS back to your regular ISP settings such as what you get from Rogers/Bell. Or you could even have a "Canadian" PC and a "US" PC. You should also be able to write a batch file to change your DNS settings with the double click of a mouse.

In an email from unblock-us they also said that they have a way of allowing you to access Netflix Canada while using their DNS settings but that was a bit more work but I decided to stick with the US service.


Roofer

join:2010-11-24
reply to kuddles

said by kuddles:

Once PSN is back online, I hope to try out Vudu.

Vudu works without PSN (I am not sure about signing up for it initially). It asks you to log into PSN, but you can just ignore it.

kuddles

join:2011-05-02
Ottawa, ON
reply to wayner92

said by wayner92:

But with this service it should be easy to switch back and forth between being in Canada or the US if you wanted to pay for both Netflix services.

Yeah, the issue with that is I like to use my television to watch the programming, and since that is using an application instead of just a website, you basically have to re-install the Netflix app every time you switched between the Canadian or US one in addition to resetting the DNS Server settings in your router. I'm too lazy to do all that. I'll just find other ways of getting Mythbusters episodes.

said by Roofer:

Vudu works without PSN (I am not sure about signing up for it initially). It asks you to log into PSN, but you can just ignore it.

Yeah, the problem is that you need to go on PSN to initially install the Vudu service, though, which I never did.


hacktek00

@ice.co.cr
reply to SpongeGuard

@docbill: were you able to replicate it without their service?

I already have a VPS in which i have privoxy, pptp and openvpn and it works fine but i have the obvious performance hit. I'd love to install a dns server and replicate their service, doing the administrative work is fine since these things are sort of a hobby for me :P


xcimo
Ebox 60Mbps

join:2007-11-21
Gatineau, QC
reply to SpongeGuard

Anyone know how unblock.us works? Is it purely DNS based or by using DNS they redirect some (ie. netflix) to a tunnel to the US? (in which case they also need a US IP).

Anyone have more details on how it works?

Does your traceroute to netflix change when using unblock.us compared to a standard dns?

Thanks