Top 3 VPNs
If you think Fargo’s season 3 ended with a terrible cliffhanger, can’t wait to see what happens to Elizabeth Moss’ character in the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale, or have been wondering if there was anyone on the set of Future Man who wasn’t high 24/7, you must be an avid fan of Hulu. But if you're outside of the U.S., chances are you’re also an angry fan locked out of your favorite shows.
The American streaming giant has been steadily filling its libraries with thousands of new titles and old classics you’ve been wanting to binge again. The service has recently discontinued its free content, alas, but it hasn’t become any less attractive for millions of its subscribers.
Streaming Hulu from Abroad
Unfortunately, Hulu is only available from the U.S., U.S. military bases, and Japan. That means you’re out of luck if you’re on a foreign soil.
The catch with Hulu is it doesn’t own distribution of its shows. Instead, the company acquires a distribution license for each show for different countries. As of now, Hulu only has the right to stream in the U.S. and Japan.
To stream Hulu when you are outside of the U.S. you need a VPN.
A Virtual Private Network is a digital service that helps you spoof into the U.S., or, in layman terms, fake your location. To stream Hulu, you are going to need an American IP address. And with the right provider, you can also boost your online privacy and security.
How to Choose a VPN for Hulu
It’s tempting to rely on VPN reviews or Reddit and pick a company whose name pops up in suggestions more often than others. But the problem is Reddit and many VPN reviews are infested with paid comments and sponsored recommendations.
Couple that with the common tendency of many providers to use click baits to lure you into subscribing without providing the advertised feature. Such is the case with unblocking Hulu. Some providers claim to unblock Hulu; a handful of VPNs actually unblock it.
The best way to choose a VPN for Hulu is to pick a handful of recommended VPNs and test them. Trustworthy providers tend to offer either a free trial or a money-back guarantee so your risks should be minimized.
Other important criteria you may want to study include:
- Availability of U.S. servers configured for streaming
- DNS leak protection
- 24/7 support
- Availability of VPN software for your devices
- Number of allowed concurrent connections per license
- Bandwidth and data limitations
- Connection speeds apt for HD streaming
- Availability of a kill switch that disables your connection if your VPN connection drops
Last but not least, you may want to go through providers’ Terms of Service and Privacy Policies to have a clear idea of how each company treats your data.
For a detailed breakdown of crucial VPN features, you’re welcome to give my VPN Guide for Beginners a quick read.
TorGuard is a U.S. company with a particularly strong emphasis on streaming and file-sharing. The provider runs streaming – and torrenting-optimized servers that offer excellent speeds apt for streaming HD video. TorGuard allows up to five simultaneous connections per license and bundles an impressive wealth of 3000+ servers worldwide, live chat support, strong security, and a no-logs policy.
To unblock Hulu with TorGuard, you need a U.S. Streaming IP, which is an extra feature available for additional $4 on top of your VPN subscription. The location-specific Streaming IP (the U.S. in this case) grants you access to streaming-optimized U.S. servers that work best for unblocking Hulu and other streaming sites.
At $9.99/month, $19.99/four months, $29.99/six months, and $59.99/year, plus the $4/mo per Streaming IP, TorGuard may be on the expensive side. But each plan bundles a bandwagon of goodies, such as a stealth proxy, anonymous email, forward secrecy, Man-in-the-Middle attack protection, and a 7-day refund policy.
ExpressVPN is traditionally one of the high-profile VPNs that comes on top of many “best VPNs” lists. The company's hefty marketing budget aside, some of its U.S. servers do unblock Hulu. Since Hulu blocks them from time to time, ExpressVPN regularly updates the list of servers that bypass the streaming giant's geo-block.
On the downside, whenever one of their streaming-optimized servers gets blacklisted by Hulu, you have to contact the provider's customer service to ask which servers unblock Hulu now.
ExpressVPN offers good speeds, robust security, easy-to-use software, up to three simultaneous connections per account, and 24/7 support. It's somewhat expensive at $12.95 per month, but its long-term subscription goes down to $99.95 a year. Bitcoin is accepted and a generous 30-day money-back guarantee covers your first purchase.
- ExpressVPN only works with Hulu if you are outside of the U.S. If you are in the U.S. and want to route all your traffic – including your streaming traffic – through a VPN, you may want to look elsewhere.
3. Bullet VPN
BulletVPN is an Estonia-based provider with a great track record of unblocking popular streaming services, including Hulu. The company boasts enough U.S. based servers to bypass Hulu's firewall on a consistent basis. It also supports torrenting, although you might have to check multiple servers to find the one providing speeds apt for HD streaming.
BulletVPN supports multiple protocols, including OpenVPN, and comes complete with Smart DNS and a sleek client supporting a wealth of devices. On the downside, the company keeps session logs.
A monthly plan with BulletVPN will set you off $10.98 while their biannual and annual subscriptions are priced at $54.98 and $89.98 respectively. All first-time purchases are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
4. Unblock.us VPN
Unblock.us VPN is a U.S. company that focuses on unblocking popular streaming services, including Hulu and Netflix. It’s not a VPN in its entirety, but a SmartDNS and SmartVPN service. What this means is you won’t be leaking government secrets via this VPN. But when it comes to streaming, Unblock.us truly shines.
Their 24/7 customer service is always ready to help you during setup while their plans are some of the most wallet-friendly on the market. Unblock.us offers a 7-day free trial without requiring your payment details. You get a fully-fledged service complete with 24/7 support during your trial.
Their monthly plan offers no refunds and costs $5 while their annual plan is priced at $50 and comes complete with a 30-day refund guarantee.
VyprVPN has had its streaming ups and downs, but it is back in the game as of this writing. VyprVPN offers an ample selection of U.S. servers and you will easily find those that work with Hulu, Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
The company runs and operates its servers, which has a positive effect on the network performance and speeds if compared to providers that lease their hardware. You get ample bandwidth and good speeds for HD streaming and up to five simultaneous connections per account.
VyprVPN is also robust on the security front, bundling strong encryption. On the downside, the company logs your IP, so you may want to look elsewhere if you want to torrent or max out your online privacy.
No refunds are offered, but they have a 3-day free trial. Their Basic plan costs $60 a year if billed annually and $120 if billed monthly while Premium will set you off $80 a year if billed annually and $155.4 if billed monthly.
6. Nord VPN
Nord VPN bundles SmartPlay DNS and ultra-fast streaming servers in its VPN packages, so you can unblock a broad spectrum of content providers – Hulu, HBO, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, you name it. The set of U.S. servers that bypass Hulu's blocks occasionally changes, so you need to inquire with the provider's customer service once in a while to know which servers work with Hulu. But that is a minor drawback in an overall fine VPN service.
Nord VPN offers watertight security with strong encryption and a zero-logs policy, anti-DDoS-optimized servers, double VPN, and Tor over VPN. P2P is allowed and you can connect up to six devices simultaneously.
$11.95 buys you a month of Nord VPN but you can have their yearly subscription for $69 only. All plans are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
7. CyberGhost VPN
CyberGhost VPN is a Romanian service you may want to check out if you want Hulu streaming complete with high-end security, zero-logs privacy, and five simultaneous connections. CyberGhost's VPN client automatically updates the list of streaming-optimized servers that work with Hulu, so you don't need to search for them manually.
CyberGhost VPN runs an impressive network of 1.250 servers in 60+ countries, so you can access not only U.S. streaming services but also European and Australian ones. Backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 7-day free trial, their monthly plan is priced at $11.99 but their $71.88-worth yearly subscription offers a generous discount.
I am not fond of roundups that end up saying that some particular VPN is the absolute best for your needs since everyone is looking for a different set of features. Below are some bonus picks of lesser-known VPNs you may want to check out because they, too, do a great job of unblocking Hulu:
- Private VPN is a Swedish provider with ten years on the market and a solid track record of not only providing airtight privacy and security but also a wealth of streaming-optimized servers. It successfully bypasses Hulu’s VPN firewall while P2P is allowed.
- SmartDNSProxy is specifically geared toward unblocking streaming sites like Hulu, Netflix, and other services across 42 countries. The company boasts of unblocking 200+ channels all the while providing consistently high speeds for HD streaming without buffering.
Bonus Tip – Disable IPv6
Without going into a jargon-heavy explanation of IPv4 and IPv6 addresses, I would recommend that you check your VPN for IPv6 leaks, among other things. You might also want to inquire with your VPN tech support if IPv6 leak protection is a part of their configuration.
The point is most VPNs hide your IPv4 address, but not IPv6 since it is not as widely adopted as IPv4, yet. If your Internet Service Provider supports IPv6, though, you run the risk of getting busted by Hulu due to IPv6 leak. So your best bet would be to disable IPv6 altogether.
Introduce the following changes while your VPN is disabled:
- To disable IPv6 in Windows, click Start → Control Panel → Network and Sharing Center → View Your Active Networks → Local Area Connection → choose your current network → right-click and select Properties → Networking tab → disable the Internet Protocol Version 6 or TCP/IPv6 → OK.
- To disable IPv6 on a Mac, go to Apple menu → System Preferences → Network → Network Preferences → choose Wi-Fi (your current network) → Advanced → TCP/IP → Configure IPv6 pop-up menu → toggle off.
As you probably know, Hulu is cracking down on VPNs. Once its firewall identifies a certain range of IP addresses as coming from a VPN, it blocks the entire range. A provider then configures another U.S. server to bypass Hulu’s firewall. Otherwise, a VPN company risks losing many users.
Some providers aren’t that agile as to always have a spare roster of servers to replace those blocked by Hulu. So don’t be surprised if a VPN that’s been highly recommended last year does not unblock the streaming service now.
With that in mind, you are strongly advised to test any VPN before subscribing to a long-term plan. Some providers offer a free trial, others – a money-back guarantee, so you can run your tests without throwing around your money.
VPNs on my list have been tested to unblock Hulu. Each VPN comes with a link to its detailed review, and I encourage you to give them a read. But because the streaming giant keeps blacklisting VPNs, you may need to invest a few hours into getting your personal hands-on experience with a few select providers.
VPNs That Do Not Unblock Hulu
Below is a brief roundup of VPNs that do not unblock Hulu as of this writing:
- PIA (Private Internet Access)
- Pure VPN
- HotSpot Shield
- Le VPN
Hopefully, this roundup helps you make an informed decision or at least narrow down your options to several VPNs you can test. While most of them provide exhaustive cross-platform support, Express VPN and NordVPN are better suited if you intend to stream Hulu on a mobile device.
Feel free to chime in if you have more VPN suggestions or updates to this list!