What Is Hulu?
Hulu is one of the top 3 most popular streaming services in the US right now, along with Netflix and Amazon Prime. It was founded in 2007 by a group of big players in the movie and television industry, including Walt Disney, 21st Century Fox, Comcast, and Time Warner.
While initially conceived as a simple solution for the largest television networks to expand their reach and move from TV to computer screens, Hulu has quickly outgrown the original concept. The service is now available on iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and tablets, Roku, Fire TV, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and virtually all other streaming devices.
What makes Hulu similar to its main competitor Netflix is that it is a subscription-based service that allows you to watch the latest seasons of your favorite TV shows, hit movies, documentaries, kids shows, and much more, including Hulu originals. You can watch both live streams and on-demand content on any streaming device and choose from thousands upon thousands of movies and shows.
Now, there are 2 main differences between Hulu and Netflix. First, Hulu allows you to choose between ad-supported and ad-free streaming and it is currently the only streaming service that offers this option. On the other hand, unlike Netflix, which is available worldwide with a few exceptions, Hulu is only available in the US and Japan.
The fact that Hulu offers instant access to all the most popular TV content is the reason why it has over 20 million subscribers and counting. What bugs its numerous subscribers is that the streaming giant does not allow them to access its library outside the US and Japan in spite of having a valid subscription. Fortunately, there is a way around Hulu’s geo-restrictions.
How To Access Hulu Outside The US/Japan?
If you want to watch Hulu content while traveling abroad, you have 2 choices. You can either use a Smart DNS service or a VPN service. Both solutions are designed to mask your actual location and make it appear like you are connecting from a different spot by routing your traffic through their servers distributed around the globe. In other words, they can fool Hulu into thinking that you are still in the US or Japan, even though you may be sipping cocktails in Ibiza or resting in a hotel in Paris.
While this is indeed great news, things are not as simple as they seem. First of all, Hulu is not that easily fooled. The existence of Smart DNS and VPN services is well-known, which is why Hulu invests great efforts into preventing users of such services from accessing its library. It has specialized teams that come up with clever ways of identifying Smart DNS and VPN traffic and, consequently, denying access to those who use such tricks.
Thus, if a VPN or Smart DNS service wants to unblock Hulu for its users, it needs to invest a lot of money into coming up with equally clever ways of making Smart DNS or VPN traffic appear like regular traffic. That is why only a handful of services actually work with Hulu and most others just claim they can make it happen so they would gain new customers.
Furthermore, it is important to know that while they can serve the same purpose of unblocking Hulu, Smart DNS and VPN services employ different technologies and come with rather different sets of advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it is not all the same whether you choose one or the other.
The takeaway here is that you do not only need to make sure that you have chosen the service that can indeed unlock Hulu, but you also need to be certain that you have picked the right kind of service for your needs.
Smart DNS Vs. VPN For Unblocking Hulu
Both Smart DNS and VPNs are subscription-based services that allow you to hide your true location in exchange for a couple of bucks per month. The main difference between the two is that a VPN encrypts your traffic and keeps your real IP invisible and a Smart DNS service does not. To help you understand why this distinction is so important, we will explain how both service types work and how they affect your Hulu streaming experience.
With a Smart DNS service, you can access geo-restricted content because the service changes the DNS of your device. When you send a request for a certain website, Smart DNS intercepts the request and modifies it, replacing the information about your real location with information about the location of one of its servers.
For example, you may want to access content that is only available in the US while you are vacationing in Asia. Normally, you would not be able to view the content, but your Smart DNS can route your traffic through its dedicated servers in the US, making it appear like you are actually in the US and helping you access the desired content problem-free.
Since a Smart DNS does not encrypt your traffic, it does not negatively affect your connection speed. However, no encryption means that your connection is not secure and you are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Plus, you cannot access the content anonymously because your real IP is visible.
Thus, while the best Smart DNS services can unblock Hulu for you and let you stream without any annoying speed drops, they do not keep you safe and they leave your real IP address out in the open for everyone to see, without protecting your privacy and hiding your identity.
In contrast to Smart DNS services, the best VPNs do not only allow you to unblock Hulu from any spot on the globe but also make sure that no one can snoop on your online traffic and private data. They combine unrestricted access to your favorite content with high-level security and anonymity.
The best VPNs for Hulu encrypt your traffic so no third party can see what you are doing online, including your ISP, the government, trackers, and hackers. Your real IP address is never visible and there are no logs of your activity, which means there is nothing that could allow third parties to trace your traffic back to you. Your privacy is fully preserved as you watch your favorite Hulu content anywhere in the world.
As your traffic is encrypted, your connection speed may drop, but the best VPNs for Hulu on our list are known for great speeds, so there is no need worry. The difference in speed in comparison to your regular connection is usually insignificant, so you can stream HD content the same way you would without a VPN.
What Makes A Good VPN For Hulu?
We have already mentioned that there are not many VPN services that still work with Hulu, as it is not easy to compete with a media giant that can afford to spend a bunch of money on preventing users from breaking its rules. That is why the best VPNs for Hulu are usually giants in their own field that use innovative solutions to circumvent the imposed restrictions.
While the only way to know that you have chosen a good VPN for Hulu is to test it, there are a couple of general requirements that VPN services need to satisfy to even be considered as potential solutions. Here are the criteria we apply when choosing the VPNs that we want to test and potentially include on our list of the best VPNs for Hulu.
Vast Server Network
If a VPN service does not have a large server network, Hulu can quickly add all of its servers to its blacklist and prevent any future access attempted by users who connect via those servers. That is why it is important for a VPN to have a huge number of servers, preferably thousands, many of them located in the US and Japan. That way, the chance that all servers will be blacklisted is reduced and, consequently, users are still able to find a server that works, although it may take some time to identify the right one.
Encryption inevitably results in a decrease in connection speed. In order to provide an enjoyable streaming experience, a VPN must operate high-speed servers that allow users to stream high-quality content without lags. Some VPNs can work with Hulu, but endless buffering can make it impossible to actually enjoy the content. Thus, high-speed servers constitute one of the key criteria in our selection process.
Strong Encryption & Zero Logs
The main reason why you should choose a VPN instead of a Smart DNS service is that a VPN should provide you with online security and privacy. Therefore, when choosing the best VPNs for Hulu, we do not only look at Hulu-specific characteristics but also choose VPNs that employ powerful encryption, preferably AES 256-bit, and keep absolutely no logs of their users’ activity.
One of the reasons why Hulu is so great is that it lets you watch the hottest TV shows and movies on basically any device you choose. If your VPN does not work with all the devices that support Hulu, then it does not allow you to enjoy the full range of perks Hulu offers. When assembling our list of the best VPNs for Hulu, we make sure our top picks work across a vast range of platforms and devices, so you can stream on anything from your computer and smartphone to smart TVs and gaming consoles.
Unblocking Hulu and providing a flawless streaming experience requires extra effort. That is why the best VPNs for Hulu employ advanced solutions such as custom encryption protocols, dedicated streaming servers, and even dedicated streaming IPs. This is what differentiates them from other VPN services that may show potential but still fail to circumvent Hulu’s geo-restrictions and make streaming effortless.
Good Customer Support
Even if you pick the best VPN for Hulu, you may still encounter some issues that can prevent you from easily accessing the content you wish to view. A server that worked before may no longer work, you may need to clear your cache before streaming or you may need to tweak the settings.
If you are not particularly tech-savvy (and even if you are), you may need some help from the experts. A good VPN for Hulu should offer constant support and have knowledgeable staff that can assist you whenever you need help.
Best VPNs For Hulu
In addition to satisfying all the criteria described above, the VPNs on our top list also received the highest scores on our rigorous Hulu tests. Learn more about our top picks in the mini-reviews below, find out why they are currently the best VPNs for Hulu, and decide which one best meets your expectations.
Hulu is one of the most popular geo-restricted streaming platforms, available only to viewers located in the US and Japan. If you live outside of these two countries, Surfshark is an excellent tool that will allow you to geo-spoof Hulu from your home without having to sacrifice connection speed.
All you have to do to unlock this platform with Surfshark is connect to one of its US servers and go to the Hulu website. If your device does not support Surfshark VPN (Smart TVs, for example), you can always use its Smart DNS to geo-spoof your current location and bypass Hulu’s protection measures. Smart DNS is also an excellent option for beginners.
During our testing phase, we were beyond impressed with the connection speeds provided by Surfshark and we were able to access Hulu and stream its content without any location problems or buffering issues. In case your VPN does get compromised for whatever reason, the implemented killswitch will stop your connection before your personal data gets a chance to leak out.
The implemented privacy & security package includes IKEv2 (default option) and OpenVPN protocols, AES-256 encryption, ad/tracking/malware blockers, and a camouflage feature that will hide your VPN traffic even from your ISP.
Surfshark currently offers more than 1,000 servers in 60+ countries paired with unlimited simultaneous connections. Lastly, the company will never monitor your online activity or record traffic logs.
NordVPN is a VPN provider best known for its astonishing server network. Out of over 5,100 servers in 62 world countries, 1,965 servers are in the US and 60 of them are located in Japan. To help you pick the best location, NordVPN offers a regularly updated list of servers that can successfully unblock Hulu.
With NordVPN, speed is never an issue and you get to enjoy unlimited bandwidth for your streaming needs. The service offers dedicated servers for ultra-fast TV, which can further improve your Hulu streaming experience. The service is compatible with all the popular platforms and devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi, Fire TV, routers, and more. It offers browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox and it allows you to stream Hulu content on up to 6 devices at once.
In terms of security and privacy, NordVPN uses double AES 256-bit encryption, supports a variety of protocols including OpenVPN and IKEv2/IPSec, provides DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch, and keeps absolutely no logs of your activity.
Its support staff is there to help you round the clock, whether you opt for live chat, email or Facebook. NordVPN subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
CyberGhost is the perfect choice for users who are not exactly tech-savvy and want to easily unblock Hulu, without any complicated settings adjustments. It operates over 7,000 servers in more than 90 countries around the world. It has 1,000+ servers in the US, 44 in Japan, and new ones are added on a regular basis.
Apart from offering great speeds and performance, CyberGhost makes the entire process of streaming Hulu easier and more enjoyable with its specialized streaming user profile. Within this profile, Hulu is available as an option and the optimal server is selected automatically, so you are always just a click away from the most popular movies and TV shows.
The service is compatible with all the popular devices and platforms, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, routers, smart TVs, and game consoles. It allows 7 simultaneous connections, which is unusually generous. CyberGhost keeps you safe and anonymous with AES 256-bit encryption, OpenVPN, IKEv2, DNS and IP leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and zero logs.
Like our previous picks, CyberGhost offers 24/7 live support, which means that there is always someone there to help you if you get stuck. CyberGhost’s monthly subscription comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee while 6-month and yearly subscriptions come with great savings and a lengthy 45-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN is one of the best VPN services around and it is not surprising that it is also the best VPN for Hulu. It operates more than 3,000 servers in 160+ locations in 90+ world countries. It has more than 30 servers in the US and 3 in Japan, most of which work perfectly with Hulu. The service offers amazing speeds and great performance. It operates specialized servers for streaming, which guarantees that you can enjoy watching high-quality content without any speed issues.
ExpressVPN is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, routers, Apple TV, Fire TV, Smart TV, PlayStation, and Android TV Box, and it can be configured on virtually all other streaming devices. It even offers browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Combined with 5 simultaneous connections, its impressive device and platform compatibility allows you to watch Hulu on all your favorite devices.
In addition to glitch-free Hulu streaming, ExpressVPN offers top-level security and anonymity with AES 256-bit encryption, OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and SSTP protocols, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and zero logs.
If you need help, you can reach out to its customer support that is available 24/7 via live chat and get concrete advice within minutes. ExpressVPN subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
TorGuard is one of the rare VPN providers that have managed to come up with a fail-proof solution for unblocking Hulu. It offers dedicated streaming IPs in the form of an add-on, allowing you to access Hulu and Netflix libraries from any place on the globe. Its server network includes more than 3,000 servers in over 50 countries, including the US and Japan.
With unlimited speeds and bandwidth, you can stream your favorite TV shows and movies on Hulu to your heart’s content, with zero restrictions. All TorGuard servers feature gigabit+ port speeds, so there are rarely any issues with lags. TorGuard supports all major operating systems and devices, including but not limited to Windows, Mac, Linux, Debian, Android, iOS, and routers. It offers Chrome and Firefox proxy extensions. You can use TorGuard on up to 5 devices at once.
If you opt for TorGuard, you can use its proxy to stream without encryption and speed decrease or use its VPN and enjoy top-notch protection. TorGuard VPN uses Blowfish 256-bit CBC, AES 128-bit, and AES 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN, SSTP, and L2TP/IPSec protocols. It comes with an automatic kill switch, DNS leak protection, Stealth VPN, Perfect Forward Secrecy, and of course, zero logs.
TorGuard’s customer support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so whatever you need, you can get in touch with the staff via live chat at any time. TorGuard subscriptions come with a 7-day money-back guarantee.
Although it is the last one on our list, StrongVPN is a highly reliable and popular VPN that has a great track record in unblocking geo-restricted streaming services including Hulu. It operates more than 650 servers in over 20 countries worldwide, with more than 450 in the US and about a dozen in Japan.
The speeds are generally above average and there are no throttling issues or bandwidth limitations. In addition to its VPN, StrongVPN also offers DNS services, so you can stream with no speed drops whatsoever. The service is compatible with all major platforms and devices, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Ubuntu Linux, iOS, Android, routers, Synology NAS, Fire TV, Kodi, Amazon Kindle, and many others. It allows up to 5 simultaneous connections.
StrongVPN uses powerful 256-bit encryption and OpenVPN, L2TP, IPsec, IKEv2 and SSTP protocols. Its Windows client comes with an automatic kill switch and the service does not keep any logs of its users’ activity.
The support staff is quick-to-respond and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. StrongVPN subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.