Can’t access a foreign website that streams video because of a geo-restriction? Try Hola VPN, a free browser extension that lets you virtually switch countries.
Do you absolutely want to watch a BBC report online on your computer or even access CNN live? Alas, this is not possible from France. These major media impose geographical restrictions that limit their viewing to their country of origin and a few others. This is also the case for many other websites and Web services throughout the world that offer video content, and in particular those of televisions that broadcast sports events – starting with football matches! – whose very expensive rights are reserved for strictly limited areas.
In practice, this geographic limitation works with the IP address. As you probably know, this numeric address – the equivalent of a telephone number, but for the Internet – is geolocated: its composition – a series of numbers – thus makes it possible to know exactly where you are connecting from. And you cannot change it “physically”, because it depends on your Internet connection, and therefore on your access provider.
All is not lost though! Indeed, it is quite possible to use an “intermediary” between you and the site you wish to consult. This is the principle of the famous VPN, this software that uses relay servers generally scattered around the world. If their primary role – claimed – is to secure connections by making them “private”, they are mainly used today to virtually change IP addresses to circumvent geographical limitations. Because when you activate a VPN, it is the address of the selected relay server that is seen by the sites that you consult.
There are dozens of VPN tools, most paid for, offering this type of service and many more to browse the web anonymously (read our article to find out more). However, if it is only a question of occasionally consulting certain sites inaccessible from France, it is not essential to subscribe to a paid service. So you can rely on Hola VPN. It is an extension for Chrome, Edge, Firefox and Opera browsers. Once in place, it detects the site you are trying to connect to and modifies your IP address accordingly in order to allow you to access its content. Hola VPN can be used for free but imposes some limits in this case. You will only be able to use 500 servers spread over only 5 countries (Hola VPN does not specify which ones). The speed is limited to 2 Mb/s for an hour, sometimes two, which can be enough to follow a sports meeting live. Restrictions that can satisfy occasional use, but no more. Hola VPN also offers paid plans, starting at $2.99 per month for a three-year subscription allowing access to more countries and better speeds.
How to access inaccessible sites in France with Hola VPN?
In its free version, Hola VPN comes as an extension for Chrome, Edge and Opera browsers). It does not require any configuration.
► Install Hola VPN in your browser by downloading the appropriate extension.
► Once installed, the extension is operational. In the page that appears showing the various prices of the premium offer, click on Continue Limited of the offer Basic to use the free version.
► Then pin the extension to the toolbar for easier access. In Chrome, click on the extensions menu (symbolized by a puzzle icon in the toolbar), then click the pin across from Hola VPN.
► Now click on extension icon. The menu that unfolds presents several websites and web services that you can connect to through the VPN set up. If the one you want to consult is one of them, click on it. Otherwise, enter their address in the search field. For our example, we opt for the BBC.
► The connection to the site is then initiated. A floating window pops up. You are prompted to choose the country from which you would like to virtually connect (in our case, the United Kingdom).
► In the window that pops up, enter an email address or identify yourself with an account you have. We recommend that you use a disposable address for the occasion (read our practical sheet to obtain one).
► Access to the site is then unlocked. You can consult it freely.