How Does Hulu Know When You’re Using a VPN?

Unlike its direct competitors, Hulu isn’t available worldwide (which we hope to see changed in the future). That means that Hulu has to be very diligent in respecting obligatory streaming and broadcasting licenses. That's the reason why geo-restrictions are imposed. And we have to say that this streaming service is doing an excellent job of detecting and blocking VPNs. With that said, you probably wonder how does Hulu know you're using a VPN, right? 

Well, there are many anti-VPN techniques available. Since we’re talking about a very popular streaming service here, we can imagine that Hulu’s anti-VPN measures are quite advanced. So, the chances are that Hulu knows you’re using a VPN by relying on the three following steps. 

Step #1: Hulu Dives Into Your Web Connection's Metadata

Have you ever wondered how websites know your location as soon as you access them? Well, that's because any website out there can employ trackers that extract data from your Web connection. However, the most crucial information there is your IP address. 

If you know someone’s IP address, you could easily trace their approximate geo-location. In fact, everything starts with your IP address. Any other information extracted from your Internet connection is typically used to push websites to locate you more precisely.

Of course, the above said doesn’t only apply to individual websites. That same technique is used by Hulu’s website and all of its individual apps. So, to summarize, Hulu checks your Web connection’s metadata as soon as you access its website or apps, collecting your IP address.

Tip

As you can already imagine, hiding your IP address is the first step towards unblocking Hulu and fighting against its geo-blocks. Therefore, it’s crucial to pick a VPN that won’t leak your IP address or any other of your sensitive information

Step #2: Hulu Tracks the "Origin" of Your IP Address

Let’s say that Hulu has collected your IP address. So, how does it know that you use a VPN? After all, every Web-connected device must have an IP to communicate online. Well, this is where third-party companies come into play.

A hugely profitable branch of the global Internet industry is populated by companies who create anti-VPN measures. One of their primary focuses is IP addresses that belong to data centers. And not just any data centers – but those known to rent their servers to VPN companies. 

In other words, those companies do their best to create and then maintain lists of IP addresses that are used by VPNs. Hulu has access to those databases, which is how your IP address can be checked for its origin. If it comes from a data center, the chances are that you use a VPN. That's the primary way how Hulu can know that you're using a (commercial) VPN.  

Tip

As you can deduct by now, a VPN that can unblock Hulu must have an incredibly large pool of US-based IP addresses. On top of that, it needs to rotate those IPs often, preventing any third parties from collecting them. 

Step #3: If You Are "Caught" Using a VPN – Your Access Is Blocked!

As you can see, you can't be "caught" using a VPN. Instead, you'll be "caught" using an IP address that belongs to a VPN-associated data center. Once Hulu makes that connection, it will redirect you to an error page, preventing further access to its website or app. 

Of course, it's easy to imagine that if Hulu bases its decision only on IPs, that could get some false positives. That's why we believe that Hulu also collects supplemental information, such as your DNS and GPS information. Therefore, even if your VPN's IP address manages to fool Hulu, your DNS and GPS will ultimately reveal your true (physical) location.

Tip

A small group of VPNs has been quite progressive in the way they unblock digital services. For example, we have IVPN and Surfshark VPN, both of which can alter your DNS and GPS data. However, that option is currently available only on Android devices.

So, Does Hulu Really Detect & Disable All VPNs? What Can You Do? 

Hulu is highly successful in detecting and blocking VPN services. However, that doesn't mean you won't find a VPN that works with Hulu in the long term. 

In other words, you need to find a VPN that has plenty of servers across the United States, along with a sizeable pool of IP addresses. And on top of that, you need a VPN that brings fast performance, servers optimized for media streaming, and a selection of VPN protocols. That will help you optimize your VPN connection and bypass just about any anti-VPN measure. 

As you can see, you need to be very careful when choosing a VPN to unblock Hulu, as not many meet the requirements listed just above. So, to help you get started, we’ve produced a guide on the best VPNs for Hulu. Make sure to take a look. 

Tip

Know that our recommendation would be ExpressVPN, which comes as the best VPN that can unblock Hulu right now. We’ve been using ExpressVPN to unblock Hulu outside the US for a very long time, without any issues. This VPN also meets any other requirement regarding media streaming and protecting your privacy.

What If You’re Already a VPN Subscriber? Can You Make Your VPN Work?

If you already pay for a VPN, it’s worth trying to make it work with Hulu. Sometimes, even something as simple as clearing cookies could make a big difference. 

We recommend using a different VPN server, removing any locally stored data that points to Hulu, and checking your VPN for leaks. You can learn how all of that is done in our guide on troubleshooting Hulu-related VPN problems.

Tip

Keep in mind that TechNadu offers a wide range of guides related to fixing technical problems with VPNs. For example, here’s what to do when your VPN won’t connect, and here’s how to speed up your VPN connection. You can find more tips in our central VPN troubleshooting guide.

So, how does Hulu know you’re using a VPN? Well, it comes down to your IP address and the level of protection of your Web connection. That’s precisely why using a highly capable VPN is the only way to unblock Hulu. Thanks for reading – and if you have any questions, make sure to post your comment just below!

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