There are plenty of reasons why a VPN service is useful, but if you've stumbled across this guide it's likely because you're facing blocks on YouTube. Luckily, the best YouTube VPN may very well be the solution.
Whether you're in school, at work, or abroad in a country that censors the video sharing website altogether, a YouTube VPN has all the location spoofing properties you'll need to bypass any restrictions and watch content on the Google owned site. It does this by altering your IP address when you join one of its thousands of servers.
This network of servers has locations across the globe. So if you're in, say, China and want to watch YouTube, hop on a server based outside of the country where YouTube isn't blocked, and you'll be good to go. Alternatively, in institutions like schools and colleges, or even your place of work, where YouTube is restricted, you can connect to a server based in your own country and hop over that digital wall with ease.
Admittedly, though, some VPN providers are better than others when it comes to unblocking. Thankfully, we've put the them to the test so you don't have to and have summarised the best YouTube VPN services available below.
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How to choose the best YouTube VPN
You'll certainly want a fast VPN for YouTube streaming smoothness, and we'd suggest taking the providers' security credentials into account, too - especially if you're trying to retain your anonymity in a country that has banned YouTube altogether.
Depending on what device you watch YouTube most - mobile, smart TV, TV streaming box or games console? - you'll want to choose a service that throws in support for that hardware. And we always suggest looking for a VPN that has a great reputation when it comes to customer support, just in case you run into difficulties.
1. ExpressVPN is the best YouTube VPN
ExpressVPN - our overall #1 VPN - is fantastic at unblocking geo-restrictions on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+ and, you'll be pleased to hear, YouTube. It's ridiculously easy to set up and use and it comes with a no-questions-asked 30 day money back guarantee and 3 months extra free.
2. Surfshark - one of the cheapest VPNs available
Look no further than Surfshark if you want to grab a fully-functioned YouTube VPN and an absolute bargain. it's a fantastic, premium option that's unbelievably simple to use and has become a TechRadar favorite. It offers most of the same features as the other top services, just for less money.
3. NordVPN - the most well-known VPN on the market
Throwing in the added bonus of being a reputable name in the world of VPN, NordVPN also has the backing with an extensive list of security features. That's alongside its ability to unblock popular streaming platforms, including YouTube.
The best YouTube VPNs in 2021:
Best YouTube VPN 2021 - Get 3 months free with an annual plan
ExpressVPN is the very best virtual private network out there bar none. So, as you'd imagine, it takes unblocking YouTube in its stride. That's just one of many streaming services it can get you access to from anywhere, with others on the list including Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, to name just a few.
What ExpressVPN does better than most is that it can offer you a huge number of servers, at over 3,000 across 160 locations, which work really fast. Yup, you shouldn't experience any buffering issues here, you just get the added security or anonymity plus geo-restriction evading, minus the throttling. Which is another thing this does well, getting you around YouTube throttling as some ISP services allegedly do.
That security we mentioned? It's broad. You get DNS/IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch, split tunnelling and, of course, high-grade encryption. Plus there are no logs kept by this VPN of activity or connections making you super anonymous, too. No one will discover your love of Ukrainian cat videos, don't worry.
The catch? This is one of the more expensive options out there. But with a 30-day money-back guarantee why not give it a try?
Get the best YouTube VPN with 49% off and 3 months FREE
As we say, ExpressVPN's completely quibble-free trial means you can grab it, give it a blast and delete within a month without cost if you decide you're not getting much out of it (which, to be frank, we highly doubt you'll need). But if you do sign up for an annual plan, TechRadar readers also get a meaty 3 months extra absolutely free.
Surfshark is a relatively new player compared to the rest but that is a very good thing as this company, like its namesake, is hungry to prove itself. As such it's one of the cheapest options out there if you commit to a longer term deal. That shouldn't be too hard since this offers lots of features including YouTube unblocking.
Despite fewer servers than some (around 3,200 compared to somebody like NordVPN that has over 5,000), Surfshark has some very fast connection speeds which remain high even when connecting to more distant locations. This applies across a host of devices which this is designed for including smartphones, smart TVs, tablets, computers and more. By more we mean as many as you like as this has no limit on the number of simultaneous connections at once.
All that is also backed by tip-top security which includes a 256-bit encryption, a kill switch and DNS leak protection plus no logging. You even get a camouflage mode to ISPs from finding out you're using a VPN – ideal to battle that YouTube throttling that may or may not be something your ISP does. There's protection from malware and phishing to keep your browsing experience clear and clean, too (although VPNs aren't really a substitute for true antivirus).
All that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee and did we mention the super low pricing!?
If NordVPN can swoop in and penetrate the walls of the likes of Netflix and BBC iPlayer, it's fair to assume it can bypass geo-restricted YouTube content - and your assumption would be correct, making it a great YouTube VPN.
Second only to ExpressVPN in our ranking of the over-aching top-dog of VPN services, NordVPN is perhaps one of the most well-known virtual private networks on the market. It boasts over 5,000 servers across 59 countries and a superb overall functionality across both security and its speed performance.
The latter is particularly good news for those looking to use NordVPN for unblocking YouTube - or just about any video streaming, really. Streaming uses up a fair bit of bandwidth, so the last thing you want is a VPN that slows down your internet connection.
With security being a key attribute of any VPN, NordVPN comes all guns glazing with AES-256-GCM encryption, Double VPN, a dedicated kill switch, and CyberSec tools for blocking ads and malicious malware. A great all-rounded, NordVPN is perfect for those in search of a YouTube VPN and much more.
ProtonVPN has gone from strength-to-strength in our recent round of testing, making it an excellent option for those in search of a YouTube VPN thanks to its excellent unblocking capabilities, and its incredible speeds since its introduction of WireGuard to its clients.
While it has yet to branch out beyond apps for the essential Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Linux operating systems, it's ensured these are finely tuned with a boatload of features, rolling them out with a serious power behind each of them. Offering an excellent kill switch, P2P support, and its new VPN Accelerator technology, its WireGuard protocol is also new to Proton this time around. And what an introduction it has made.
Leaving the likes of Hotspot Shield in the dust (once dubbed the fastest VPN), ProtonVPN's WireGuard performance saw heights of 720-750Mbps, not far behind the likes of NordVPN (760-880Mbps) and IPVanish (750-900Mbps), who took the top spot.
These speeds come in handy when doing heavy duty tasks, too, and thankfully ProtonVPN is a pro when it comes to bypassing geo-restrictions and unblocking top streaming services. As well as gaining access to YouTube, Proton is also one of the few to be able to still circumvent Netflix's mighty anti-VPN infrastructure, as well as platforms like Disney Plus, Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer.
CyberGhost has some of the most servers at over 7,400 in some 90 countries, meaning you can get access anywhere you need and you'll still have the security of this solid VPN. That means the usual encryption and kill switch protections, too.
One particularly useful feature for YouTube unblocking is this VPN's ability to offer data compression. This will offer better performance and means you can save your data which is ideal if you're watching from your smartphone on a network connection.
This works across the likes of iOS, Android, Mac and PC with up to seven devices supported simultaneously.
Grab a 45-day money-back guarantee before you commit then save more by going for a longer plan option.
YouTube VPN: FAQ
How to use a VPN with YouTube
You've chosen your provider, but how do you actually unblock YouTube? It's actually really straightforward - once downloaded and installed on the device you want to use, make sure the VPN is open and running. Select a location that isn't where you are, and is where the video allows access. So keep in mind if it's that Ukranian cat video you're after, you might want to select a server in or near the Ukraine.
If you find that your connection is slow or you still don't have access, simply hop to another server location and try reloading the video. In the case of services like ExpressVPN you could take advantage of its 24/7 live chat service and ask for what you need and you'll more than likely be directed to the best server for your needs.
Is a free VPN good enough for YouTube?
There are some free VPN options that will allow you to select from a limited number of server locations, although many are locked to auto select. But that's not really the issue, in most cases the problem is going to be data. Since there is often a cap on free providers, you may find you don't get very far into your trip down the YouTube trapdoor as you end up out of data. Or if it's free data then speed may be the problem.
A free virtual private network may do the job for you, so it's worth a try. But without the support, security and server selection of the paid versions it's more than likely you'll find yourself wasting time trying to get access.
Is YouTube banned in China?
YouTube has been inaccessible in China since 2009 following a five month ban the previous year. It can still be accessed in Hong Kong, Macau, and Shanghai's Free Trade Zone, otherwise you'll need a VPN to get on YouTube while within the borders of China as the video platform finds itself behind the Great Firewall, alongside Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and many more.
Where else is YouTube banned?
If you happen to be travelling, you'll find that YouTube is banned not only in China, but also Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria, Tajikstan, and Turkmenistan. Luckily, a YouTube VPN will allow you to connect to a server outside of any of these countries so you can stream content from YouTube like you would back home.