VPNs—virtual private networks—are a great way to ensure privacy when using the Internet, as well as gain access to region-restricted content that you would not otherwise have been able to view. When it comes to using a VPN with YouTube, there are many questions arise. Things like “is watching YouTube through VPN allowed?”, and “can I inflate my view count using a VPN?” We’re going to touch on those questions in this post, but first, let’s tackle the title question.
YouTube can certainly detect VPNs, though it is not an immediate process. Detecting VPNs involves the tracking of multiple data points across many users, but it can be done, and it is in YouTube’s best interests to do it.
How VPNs Work
This being a site primarily for YouTubers, we won’t try to explain VPNs in technical detail (nor are we qualified to!) so feel free to search yourself a more detailed explanation, but a base understanding of how VPNs work is necessary in order to understand how YouTube can detect VPNs in the first place.
Essentially, a VPN is an encrypted network within the wider network that is the Internet. The data travelling back and forth in that VPN is only visible to users who are part of the VPN. Think of it as similar to entering the subway, tube, or another underground transport network of your choosing. A person watching you come out of the transport network knows you have exited at that point, but has no way of knowing where you entered.
This allows users to get around things like geographical restrictions on content since their connection is routed through the VPN and emerges at a node that is in a geographical region where the content is available. This can also help users to have a greater degree of anonymity. While you can use things like “incognito mode” in Chrome, there will always be ways in which your online identity can be guessed at—if not outright locked in—because you are still accessing the web from your computer in the same geographical location. VPNs can throw any interested parties a little further off your scent by masking your geographical region.
How YouTube Can Detect VPNs
One of the key points about using a VPN is the IP address you appear to be connecting from. That is, the IP address that YouTube thinks is yours. Many VPNs—especially free ones—use the same IP address for several users. Depending on the popularity of the VPN, there could be thousands of users connecting through the same IP address. For YouTube, this would be a big giveaway, especially if many of those users are logged in.
This can be avoided by using a VPN that will grant you a dedicated IP address, meaning you will always be connecting from the same remote IP address and you will be the only one using it. This isn’t the best option for anonymity, but it’s great for getting around regional content restrictions since YouTube can’t reliably distinguish between your dedicated VPN IP address and a regular IP address.
If you are using a free VPN service—or a paid one that uses shared IP addresses) and YouTube (most likely YouTube TV specifically) is blocking you, you can always try another service in the hope of finding one that YouTube hasn’t cottoned on to yet, but the only way to be relatively sure that YouTube won’t catch you VPNing them is if you get a dedicated IP address.
Why Use A VPN For YouTube?
The main two reasons to use VPNs to view YouTube content are regional restrictions and anonymity. Regional restrictions we’ve covered—some content is made unavailable in certain parts of the world, mostly because of licensing but also sometimes because of political matters. Whatever the reason, using a VPN can allow you to access that content. Whether you see this as an unethical practice will depend entirely on your own worldview. We’re not here to judge.
There is also a version of regional restrictions which is almost the precise reverse of what we have just described. In some parts of the world—such as China, North Korea, Iran, and more—YouTube is blocked by the government. Again, where you stand on the ethics of this is your business, but using a VPN can enabled citizens of countries that block YouTube to get around the censorship.
Anonymity is pretty self-explanatory. Some people value their privacy, or perhaps have a pressing reason why they need to ensure they remain anonymous. In any case, using a VPN will make it considerably harder to identify that person when they are using sites like YouTube… assuming they don’t log in to their account, of course.
Using VPNs To Inflate YouTube Views
If you peruse threads about YouTube and VPNs, you’ll invariably find someone asking about using a VPN to boost their view count. This is a non-starter for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it is one hundred percent not worth the time it would take to make any meaningful boost to your view count. If you had thousands of people working at it, you may be able to make a meaningful difference, but if you can get thousands of people to do that, why not just get them to watch your video legitimately?
Secondly, even if you fool YouTube regarding your VPN access, the platform still has ways of ensuring that every view is legitimate. If you watch your own video a thousand times, even if you do it through a VPN, YouTube will likely scrub those views from your view count, meaning you’ll have wasted your time.
Ultimately, YouTube is only concerned about VPNs when they affect the platform’s ability to generate revenue. Thousands of users coming from the same IP address makes it harder to track individual users, and thus display relevant ads. A dedicated IP address gives YouTube something to track, meaning they can advertise to you even if you are technically anonymous, so they’re not likely to clamp down on that kind of VPN access.
Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube
Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.
1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search
I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.
2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos
I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.
When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.
I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.
That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.
Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.
3. Rev.com helps people read my videos
You can’t always listen to a video.
Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.
This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.
Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.
A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.
4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube
I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.
I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.
That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.
Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).
5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways
I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.
And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.
I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.
I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.
They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.