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Hulu has long been considered one of the most popular streaming services among users of VPN services. Unfortunately, though, they have become a victim of that success. This is because the content owners that operate Hulu are signing an increasing number of deals to licence that content to foreign streaming service providers, such as Sky Go in the UK and Stan in Australia. As part of these agreements, they are required to make it difficult for users outside the United States to access the Hulu streams, so that the new licensees can fully monetise the content that they have invested in.
Unfortunately, the way they have chosen to do this is by blocking access to Hulu using most of the major VPN services (especially ones that are available free of charge). Even though they have no way of telling whether a VPN user could have watched a particular piece of content in their own country or not. This is useful not only for people abroad who want to watch Hulu, but also for US residents who go travelling around the world and don’t want to lose access to their favourite shows while they are away. Hulu and other services don’t work based on the country you live in; they will always check what country you are located in whenever you log on. This means that US residents will lose access when they travel abroad, even to Canada or Mexico.
A VPN works by routing all of your internet traffic through a server that is located in another country, while establishing a secure connection between your computer and that server. This means that in the eyes of whatever website you are visiting, your computer is located in the same country as that server. If you are trying to use a service that is only available in a particular country, such as Hulu in the US or the BBC iPlayer in the UK, the website will identify your computer as being in the correct survey and will grant you access.
As well as allowing easy access to Hulu and a large number of other streaming video services, there are other reasons why you may wish to consider using a VPN for all of your browsing activity.
The first of these is the security that these types of connections can provide. In recent years, there have been a number of revelations about the amount of information that governments across the world are collecting about the websites that people in their countries visit. There is also the risk of your personal information being intercepted by criminals or other nefarious actors when it is sent over an insecure connection. Using a VPN, particularly one of the VPNs offering military grade encryption and security to its users, which we cover in this article, will help you to mitigate this risk.
Deciding on the best VPN service is difficult, as every VPN user has different priorities that will impact their choice of VPN. For these reviews, we have concentrated on how easily a VPN gives access to Hulu and other streaming media services. Unfortunately, this has ruled out free VPN services, as these tend to have few servers and very limited support operation, which means that their servers are very easily blocked by Hulu. Instead, we have concentrated on paid for VPN services that put streaming media services first. There are several services which sell themselves on giving their customers the ability to access Hulu and which regularly open up new servers to ensure that their users always have access to the streaming services that they use.
ExpressVPN is our top choice as a VPN for those who wish to access Hulu for a wide number of reasons. It really is the best all round VPN option for this purpose, especially for those who have not used a VPN service before and are unsure about getting started.
The setup process for ExpressVPN is one of the easiest that we have ever come across. There’s no need to mess around with the settings of your computer, as there are apps for all of the major operating systems that can do the legwork for you. These cover all of the platforms that you are likely to use ExpressVPN on and include iOS and Android on mobile, and Windows, macOS and Linux on desktop or laptop systems. Getting started is as simple as installing the software, logging in with your details or signing up to an account and selecting the server that you would like to connect to. If using Hulu is your main reason for installing ExpressVPN then select a server that is located in the United States and you will be ready to go.
ExpressVPN covers far more locations than just the US though, it has servers located in over 90 countries worldwide, meaning that there is hardly any geoblocked content that is off limit to ExpressVPN users. Large countries have multiple servers located in them so that the load can be easily balanced and, in the unlikely event that one goes down, there are plenty of backup options for users to choose from.
If you find you need support when you are using ExpressVPN, then you have the choice between sending an email, filing a support ticket using the website form or using the live chat service to get your problem resolved. Telephone support is not an option, everything must be done online, which is a slight drawback if you don’t want to connect to the internet without a secure VPN connection, but are having issues with getting yours to work! However, reports on the quality of the live chat service are very good and problems tend to get resolved very quickly.
Before you contact the support service, you also have access to a library of well written help materials. These are easy to follow and don’t suffer from the English language issues that can be present in the help section of some other VPN services.
Security is also very good on ExpressVPN. The company is based in the British Virgin Islands, meaning that there is no set legal process in place that would allow the US government to get its hands on the company’s records. Even if the government somehow managed to do this, it would probably be disappointed with what it receives. This is because ExpressVPN, in common with many other VPN providers, operates a ‘no logs’ policy. This means that it does not collect any information about the websites that its customers visit or even which servers they connect to and for how long. No paper trail is kept of your browsing history, meaning that you can browse the web with confidence.
This isn’t the only security feature that enhances the safety of your web browser. All of the traffic between your computer and the ExpressVPN server is encrypted using 256-bit military grade encryption. This means that it’s almost impossible for your ISP to inspect the traffic that you are sending and that the risks of you facing a man in the middle attack or other types of online crime that could result in your credit card details, social security number or other personal information being stolen are substantially reduced.
The one downside of ExpressVPN compared to some of the other VPNs that we are going to cover on this page is the price. A standard subscription to the service costs $12.95 per month at the time of writing. This is very good value in our opinion thanks to the large range of servers that are available, the 24 hours a day live chat support and all of the security features. Substantial discounts are available if you pay for one year or more of service in advance. These offers can save you 50% or more at certain times of the year. However, if you’re not interested in all of these additional features and your main reason for getting a VPN is to restore your access to Hulu as cheaply as possible, you may want to consider one of our other options.
This is another very good VPN service that is not quite as full featured as ExpressVPN. However, it makes up for this by being not quite as expensive as NordVPN, particularly if you are able to pick up one of the subscription promotions that the company runs on a frequent basis.
Security is the leading feature of NordVPN. As well as the 256-bit, high-grade encryption that you would expect, it also offers a number of other security features. The most notable of these is the kill switch. This is a little bit of software that runs constantly in the background and ensures that your connection to the VPN server is active. If it discovers that the connection has gone down, either because you are having problems with your internet connection or the NordVPN server is having issues, it shuts off your internet connection until the secure link is restored. This is useful because it ensures that no traffic can enter or leave your network without passing through the security of the NordVPN connection.
In terms of server choice and availability, you will have no issues accessing Hulu as there are a wide range of servers located in cities across the US. The selection of countries is not quite as wide as ExpressVPN offers, but with around 80 available at the time of writing, it’s unlikely that you will come across any problems.
If you need support when you are using NordVPN, you have the choice between emailing the team and using its live chat support service. Response times on live chat are generally pretty fast and the team is available 24 hours a day. There is no option to phone the company for support however, everything must be done online, which is a slight problem if you are having issues with securing your connection using the NordVPN software before you connect. A comprehensive help and setup guide is also available that should be able to resolve many potential issues before you even have to contact the support team.
As well as all of the apps that you would expect for operating systems like Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, NordVPN also gives you the option of installing its software directly to your router. If you do this, every device in your household that connects to the internet via your router will be protected by the VPN connection. This is a great option if you want to use Hulu with a Smart TV or other piece of technology that does not allow you to install the ExpressVPN software.
You can either install this software to your existing router or order a brand-new router with the software pre-installed. If you are not technically confident, then we would suggest you do the latter, as replacing the software on your router can cause it to stop functioning if you don’t know what you are doing. If your router was provided by your cable company, you’ll probably also void your warranty and may have to shell out for an expensive replacement.
As we mentioned, NordVPN’s pricing comes in a little bit cheaper than ExpressVPN. The standard rate is $11.95 per month. The main difference is that NordVPN runs far more offers than ExpressVPN and it is far easier to secure a long-term discount on the service. Prices can drop to as little as $4 per month during promotions and, if you’re willing to sign up for a long subscription in advance. you can unlock even larger savings.
This VPN network started up with a focus on security. However, over the years, it has added a wide number of server locations and is now more than able to compete with some of the bigger VPN service providers. It also has the advantage of offering a lower cost service and all of the features that you would expect from one of its fully featured competitors.
VyprVPN makes it easy to get started with using its services thanks to its lightweight and easy to use software. Like most of its competitors, it offers this software for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. It also gives you the option of installing software directly to your router in order to protect all of the devices that connect to your network. Again, this is only something you should do if you feel technically comfortable with replacing the software on your router as things can go wrong and VyprVPN will not be responsible if they do. If this all sounds a little bit too daunting, then you also have the option of buying a new router that comes with the VyprVPN software pre-installed, meaning that you can get started straight out of the box.
Server speed and slowness can be an issue with some VPN services, which can be a real problem if the main reason that you are using a VPN is to watch streaming video services, such as Hulu. Fortunately, in our experience, VyprVPN offers speeds of between 20 and 25 megabits per second when connected to its servers, even at peak time. This is more than enough for comfortable HD video streaming from Hulu and other major services.
As we mentioned at the start of this review, security is one of the big selling points of VyprVPN. This means that is supports the advanced encryption that is common to all VPNs, as well as offering a kill switch that protects your data from the possibility of interception in the event of a problem cropping up with your connection to the VPN server. VyprVPN goes above and beyond these standard features however by offering a feature known as OpenDNS scrambling. Put simply, this makes it nearly impossible for any website to track the IP address you are connecting from. This eliminates the possibility of you facing problems online because the IP address that is assigned to you by your VPN has been abused by another user. It also adds another layer of security onto your internet connection and means that you can surf with confidence.
VyprVPN also operates the same ‘no logs’ policy as other VPN service providers, meaning that even if the government or your ISP tried to request information about the websites that you have been visiting, there would be nothing for VyprVPN to hand over.
Support on VyprVPN is generally good. As with many of its competitors, you have a choice between emailing the support team or using the live chat service to try and get your issues resolved. There is no phone support service, although the reports that we have seen suggest that the live chat option is good and tends to get most people’s problems resolved fairly quickly.
Like many of the other VPN services that we have covered, VyprVPN offers significant discounts to users who sign up for a long period of service and pay for it in advance. There are also occasionally promo codes floating around the internet that offer a significant discount on the service. Overall, the VyprVPN service is not quite as fully featured as some of the others that we have covered in this review. However, if security is your main priority when you are choosing a VPN, but you also want to be sure that you can watch videos from your favourite streaming site with ease, then VyprVPN may be the ideal compromise.
This somewhat provocatively named VPN service takes the security focus that you would expect from a service with its name. Like its competitors however, it also offers easy to use software that makes it straightforward to get your VPN up and running. However, it is one of the more expensive options and isn’t quite as fully featured as some competitors that are available at the same price. It does however offer a long 30-day trial and there are often promo codes available that can reduce the long-term price of using the service. It’s definitely worth considering if you can find one of those.
The list of servers available on HideMyAss is comprehensive, but not quite as large as you would find with NordVPN or ExpressVPN. Connection speed to the servers is generally good enough for streaming video, although there can be issues with connection strength and quality at busy times. During our test, we had no issue connecting to Hulu or BBC iPlayer and once video started playing, we didn’t hit any buffering, although the quality did drop from time to time.
As the name suggests, security is at the heart of the HMA offering. The kill switch that is offered by many VPNs in order to protect your internet traffic is present and every connection is protected by 256-bit encryption. There is also a 24 hour live chat support service if you find that you need help with setting up the service, although you don’t have the option of using a telephone support service to resolve the issue that you are having.
The main drawback of HMA when we used it is what happens after your trial period ends. Unless you uninstall the software, it will start up every time you open your computer and nag you to re-subscribe. This is not a particularly big problem as it can be solved easily if you simply uninstall it but it can leave some users who trial the software and decide not to continue using it in the long-term with a bad taste in their mouths.
Overall, HideMyAss is a sold VPN service if you can get it at a good price. It is not quite as fully featured as some of the other services that we have mentioned on this page, however, and if the price you are being quoted for both services is the same then we would suggest that you go for one of the others.
The answer to this question depends on how you are going to use the service and how happy you are messing around with computer technology. If you are only going to watch Hulu and other streaming services on your laptop and don’t have many devices in your home, then it’s probably a good idea to stick to using the software for your computer that is provided by the VPN company and avoid messing around with your router.
On the other hand, if the reason that you want a VPN is to watch Hulu on a Smart TV or another device that does not support the VPN software, then installing it on your router may be the only choice that you have. Make sure that you have fully read and understood the instructions provided by your VPN service before you start doing it and make sure that you fully understand the risks you are taking. Flashing your router software can cause it to stop working completely if your router is not compatible or if there is a problem with the setup. At the very least, we recommend that you have a copy of the original router software on hand, just in case anything goes wrong with the setup process.
If all of that sounds just a little bit too daunting when all you wanted to do was watch Hulu without issue, then it might be worth buying one of the routers that comes pre-installed with the relevant software. Almost all of the VPN services that we have covered in this guide offer this as an option and there tend to be frequent sales on the routers, so it can be worth holding out for a little bit before you decide to buy.
All of the VPNs that we have covered on this page offer fast enough connection speeds for you to watch Hulu or any other streaming video service in HD without issues. 4k content can be a problem over some VPNs as it requires significantly more data than even 1080p HD streaming. Connection speeds at the big VPN services are improving all the time and as more content in 4k becomes available, it is likely that they will further improve their offerings to ensure that all of their customers can benefit from this new, higher definition content.
All of the VPNs that we have covered offer multiple servers in the US with thousands of IP addresses. This makes it very hard for Hulu or any other streaming site to block them completely. As access to Hulu and similar sites is one of the big selling points for these companies, they will always work hard to ensure that their customers have easy access to the websites that they love. The sheer volume of connections they process helps to ensure this.