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Unlocking YouTube: Unveiling the Reasons Behind YouTube’s Unavailability in Your Region

Published August 11, 2023

YouTube is immensely popular, more than any other social media video-uploading service. Not only do billions of people watch videos on this platform, but many users earn millions of dollars by uploading videos on it. If a household somewhere around the globe has an internet connection, chances are high that its housemates will look at YouTube at least a few times a day.

Of course, not all YouTube experiences are tailored the same. What you watch in the United States will differ wildly from what people in certain European or African countries might have access to. Some videos will simply not cross over into other regions, which can be annoying if you want to watch something popular or trend-setting.

So, why does YouTube restrict certain videos in different parts of the world? More importantly, is there a way to bypass the region lock and enjoy content irrespective of your location? Luckily, we’ve got an entire article covering that exact topic, and we’re eager and willing to share it with you. Read on and learn how you can get access to any YouTube video at any time and in any place.

Possible Reasons for Region-Locking

Of course, before you can figure out a solution, you need to pinpoint the root cause. Listed below are some of the most common reasons behind you not getting access to specific YouTube videos.

Geography

The most common reason revolves around the area you live in. Oftentimes, YouTube puts a geographical restriction on its services so that users from other regions can’t access some or all of its content. The justification for such a practice can vary from political to social and even economic reasons linked to the particular region that’s being restricted. For example, since the company is based in the US, it will probably not provide access to overseas territories that are in armed conflict against the US or one of its allies.

Network Restrictions

Depending on what kind of internet service provider or ISP you use, you may not gain full access to YouTube. In certain countries, ISPs tend to limit access to certain websites, mainly to reduce congestion and increase internet traffic. Popular websites like YouTube are quite demanding, so it makes sense to limit certain sections so that the viewing public can have a smoother viewing experience.

Government Censorship

While YouTube imposes geographic limitations on some countries from time to time, more often than not, the opposite can be true. Namely, if a nation sees a social media website as a potential threat to its safety and stability, it will block the platform by itself. In 2023, a total of five countries blocked YouTube completely: China, North Korea, Turkmenistan, Eritrea, and Iran. Furthermore, there are many other countries, especially in Africa and the Middle East, where access to the platform is either severely limited or monitored on a daily basis.

Of course, sometimes the reason behind the region-locking is fairly mundane, such as legal issues. Local laws regarding content uploading, the active government’s legal privacy policies, as well as different licensing rights can all contribute to users simply not having their video available to a specific region.

Granted, the user may have simply locked the video as private and made it unavailable to the viewers of any region. In addition, major YouTubers often make videos specifically for their premium members and subscribers, which are not accessible to the general viewing public.

Bypassing the Lock

While region locking is never fun, there are ways to go around it. Here are six of the most basic methods you can try.

Using a Proxy

People who want to bypass the region lock altogether need a way of accessing YouTube as if they lived in a different country. The cheapest way to do that is to set up a proxy server.

Nowadays, you can find various types of proxy servers, even ones that require a small fee or are completely free of charge. Furthermore, setting it up and using it isn’t difficult. But they do come at a slight disadvantage. Namely, proxies do not encrypt the traffic and are not particularly secure. In other words, anyone can go over your browsing history and figure out where you’re using the proxy from. Furthermore, lots of free-to-use proxies have a fairly limited scope. As such, they may not help with YouTube, considering how big the platform is and how much bandwidth it requires.

Downloading the Video

More often than not, a region-locked video will load with an error message. And while you can’t see the contents of the video itself, you can still click on the link. Right there, you have a golden opportunity to not only watch the video but save it and even reupload it if the need and opportunity arise.

There are various methods of downloading videos from YouTube. One such method includes using online conversion and download services. Luckily, it’s fairly straightforward. All you need to do is find the right service, copy the link of the video you want to watch, and then download it. As unethical as it may sound, it’s actually legal to download video content from YouTube.

Naturally, you have to be careful which services you’re using since some of the YouTube downloader websites can be a bit dodgy. Luckily, you can find entire lists of legit video downloading services out there. In fact, there are even browser extensions and add-ons that enable you to download videos not just from YouTube but from any other video hosting service.

Using a VPN

By far, the safest option is using a VPN. Recently, VPNs have skyrocketed in popularity to the point where even famed social media influencers are advertising them.

A VPN is kind of like a proxy server but with a few notable differences. The most obvious dissimilarity that comes to mind is the encryption level. With the right VPN, you’ll be able to cloak where you are in a matter of seconds. And while it tends to be pricey, especially the high-end ones, it almost always gets the job done.

Basic Troubleshooting

Now, there are times when it’s not YouTube that’s at fault for the region-locked behavior but rather our browser or even our OS itself. Therefore, a bit of basic troubleshooting ought to get your video back up:

  • Refresh the webpage (click CTRL and R to do so);
  • Restart the browser entirely;
  • Restart your PC or a smart device;
  • Check the speed of your internet connection;
  • Fix network connectivity issues;
  • Change the video’s quality.

Alternative Web Browser Options

If the previously described troubleshooting doesn’t work, try a few different browser tips and tricks:

  • Choose another browser (Chrome, Mozilla, Opera, Safari, etc.). Pro tip — avoid using Microsoft Edge;
  • Use Chrome’s Incognito mode to see if it works;
  • Copy the link in Google Translate, then change the language to anything other than English, and click on the resulting link.

Bypassing Youtube Restrictions

When all else fails, familiarize yourself with YouTube’s video restrictions and try to disable them. For example, you can alter the region showing on your computer. Simply follow this path: “Win+I”→Settings→Time and Language→Region→Country or region. In the last prompt, type in the name of the region you inhabit and hit Enter. Another method is to change the YouTube address. Instead of it saying www.youtube.com/watch?V/AdditionalContent, update it to say www.youtube.com/V/AdditionalContent and hit refresh. Your video should start playing soon after.

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Written By:
AUTHOR & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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