If you’ve been trying to access a particular website on your Android device and have been unable to do so successfully, you might be wondering what’s going on. Fortunately, it’s fairly simple to do some initial troubleshooting to determine why the site is not loading for you. If you’re able to access other websites, then you know it’s not an internet connection problem.
Once you know there’s no problem with your data connectivity, you need to determine if the site itself is down or if your particular device is being blocked from accessing the server. You can determine this quickly by using a site like Down For Everyone Or Just Me, where you can input the web address (URL) of the site or page you’re trying to load and then click the “or just me button” to receive a status confirmation.
If the message returned says “It’s just you” then that means your device is being blocked, in which case you can use the following guide to learn how to gain access to the blocked site:
Sites Detect Your Device’s Location Via Your IP Address
There are only a few ways that a site can identify your device in order to block it from accessing the server, but the most common method is by checking the Internet protocol (IP) address of your device, which is transmitted to every page that you visit.
Your IP address is a string of numbers that uniquely identifies your device on the web. With this string of numbers, a site can determine which country and region your device is located in. If you type “what is my IP” into Google you can receive a quick display of your IP address. You can also see what location your IP address is displaying by using the IP Address Lookup tool from whatismyip.com.
Country-specific Blocking is Prevalent But it CAN Be Circumvented
Many sites will block users that are trying to access content from certain geographical areas in order to target specific audiences, uphold regional licensing agreements with parent companies, and prevent unwanted traffic from foreign countries that won’t convert well for advertisers. For example, you might have encountered the message “this content is not available in your country” on YouTube, Netflix or another site. The practice of blocking devices from certain countries is called geo-blocking.
The legality of using methods to get around geo-blocking is still largely in development, so at the moment it’s viewed merely as a violation of a site’s Terms of Service (ToS) but there haven’t been any cases of people being arrested or charged for circumventing geo-blocking, as it is a very common practice worldwide. Some companies within the entertainment industry (i.e. – Sony Pictures, Sky Network TV and others) have attempted to classify the circumvention of geo-blocking as a soft form of piracy and copyright law violation, but legislators have not enacted any laws to enforce such claims.
In fact, many lawmakers don’t agree with geo-blocking and have labeled it a form of discrimination. In particular, the European Union has enacted a Digital Marketing Strategy that prevents online video services from geo-blocking access to content within the EU. As of 1 April 2018, all digital media services that operate in the EU are required to offer a roaming option that allows viewers in Europe to access content that is available in other countries.
Using a Proxy to Connect to the Web Will Change Your IP Address
So now that you know your Android device is being blocked based on your IP, all you have to do to get around geo-blocking is to change your IP address so that it looks like your device is coming from another country.
There are several ways to do this but all of them involve connecting to the web through a proxy. This simply means that your device is connected to a third-party server which is then sending requests to the site you’re trying to access. In this way, YouTube, Netflix or any other site you’re trying to retrieve content from will view your device as having the IP address of the proxy server you’re connected to.
Generally, the most common method for quickly changing an IP address is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app on your Android device. Although there are free options available, you’ll find that connection speeds and reliability will be better with a paid VPN service. A VPN will give you access to a network of IP addresses, and often they’ll even let you pick which country you want your IP address to originate from. Alternatively, you can also purchase access to dedicated IP addresses that nobody else has access to, which usually results in the best connection possible.
How to Configure Your Android Proxy Settings
If you’re using a VPN app on your android device, it should walk you through the proxy configuration process or take care of it automatically. However, if you’re trying to use a free, shared or dedicated individual proxy by inputting the IP address manually, you’ll need to do this within your device’s Settings menu by following these steps:
When using a Wi-Fi Network:
- Open the Settings menu
- Go to the Connections menu
- Tap on Wi-Fi
- Tap and hold on the name of the Wi-Fi network you’re using
- Tap Modify Network
- Select Advanced Options
- Select Manual
- Input the proxy settings (IP address and port number)
- Tap Save
When using your mobile data connection:
- Open the Settings menu
- Go to the Connections menu
- Tap on Mobile Networks
- Select the Access Point Names (APN) Option
- Tap on the APN you’re using
- Type in the IP address and port information
- Save changes.
If you’re not sure what to input for the IP address and port information, consult with your proxy provider.
Make Sure You Maintain Anonymity By Clearing Your Cookies
While your device’s IP address is the main identifying factor, you can also be tracked across the web via cookies (history files) that are stored on your device every time you visit a new site. Thus, to make sure you’re truly anonymous and you don’t have any pre-existing browsing footprint, it’s best to clear your cookies or operate in a browser mode that doesn’t store cookies at all, such as Google Chrome’s incognito mode.
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