Having amassed 140 million active monthly users as of January 2022, Twitch is the leading video streaming platform with more than 7.4 million streamers going live each month and League of Legends being its most-watched title.
Regardless of whether you're more Fortnite or Animal Crossing, Mario Kart 8 or FIFA 22, or there to simply watch your favorite streamer have a chat, there is a risk you may be unable to access Twitch in some circumstances. Countries like China have completely blocked the service, and you may also find your school or workplace prevents you from visiting such sites on their servers.
Never fear, though - we have a solution!
In instances like this, a VPN certainly comes in handy, allowing you to sit and watch gaming seshes from the likes of Ninja and Arden Rose while stealthily circumventing any geo-restrictions in place. We explain how below.
Unblock Twitch with ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN - the top VPN to unblock Twitch (opens in new tab)
Sitting at the top of many of our buying guides, ExpressVPN is the best in class when it comes to circumventing geo-restrictions and unblocking websites and services. An intuitive, smart interface, it also host to a bunch of great security features, making this our choice for a VPN to unblock Twitch.
Why do I need to unblock Twitch?
While Twitch doesn't find itself in the realms of the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms that are blocked across a number of countries, you will require a China VPN if you hope to access Twitch while in the country.
Other countries have also blocked Twitch in the past, including India in 2020 following some users streaming Indian Premier League matches on the platform, so if you're someone who regularly tunes into Twitch streams, it's better to be safe than sorry while traveling.
What's more, you may face blocks in your place of work or school. Unless you happen to be writing a thesis on the addictive nature of gaming or the rise of streaming and its impact on the video game landscape, it's likely your boss or teacher isn't going to be too happy with you whiling away hours watching Twitch streams. You may find, then, that your institution has implemented a blanket block on its IP address to avoid distractions.
While we don't condone rule breaking, a Twitch VPN can certainly come in handy if, for whatever reason, you're looking to access the platform and are faced with such blocks.
Aside from circumventing blocks, users also use a Twitch VPN to avoid bandwidth throttling. Particularly when watching high resolution streams that can require a lot of bandwidth, Internet Service Providers and networks can be known to reduce speeds, which can cause lag and overall slower internet. And we've even heard of people using a VPN to avoid annoying ads on Twitch, as it seems not all regions of the world carry ads on the platform.
How to unblock Twitch - step-by-step guide
- Select a VPN Already got one? Then you're good to go... most reputable VPNs can unblock Twitch with ease. Otherwise, take a look at our guide to the best VPNs.
- Install the VPN app – Install the software, either on your PC, smartphone or tablet; whichever devices you’re planning on accessing Twitch from. Any good provider will have mobile VPN apps for iOS and Android.
- Start the VPN app – Once opened, you’ll have to run through the app’s setup, and agree to certain permissions – either terms and perhaps privacy conditions, or permissions to access your device.
- Hit ‘connect’ – The main menu will have some kind of ‘connect’ button and pressing this will fire up the VPN connection using the provider’s nearest server (or fastest server, often one and the same thing). For getting around an office-wide (or college-wide) ban, that’s all you need to do; it’ll seem like you’re located outside of the building. Circumventing a country-wide ban necessitates another step…
- Select another server – To evade a total block across an entire nation, you’ll need to switch to a different server in another country. The app should have a long list of servers – or maybe a world map showing them – just choose one in a different (but nearby) country, which you’ll then appear to be located in, allowing you to freely stream Twitch.
- Enjoy Twitch – Start streaming Twitch and watch your favorite streamers playing video games.
It's worth noting you'll only be able to install a VPN if you have administrator rights on your device. This process may therefore not work if your computer is supplied by an employer or school.
Unblock Twitch: what VPN provider should I use?
ExpressVPN is our first choice as the provider which is most suitable for those looking to side-step geo-restrictions restrictions. And not least because this service has been top of our list of the best streaming VPNs for a good long time now, an achievement that reflects the quality on offer here.
This VPN boasts a whole raft of features, and a large number of servers worldwide (in 90+ countries) to make it easier to find a fast one nearby.
It has excellent unblocking powers – not just for Twitch, but other services like Netflix – and you get a wide choice of VPN protocols, including ExpressVPN’s own Lightway protocol, which proved itself to be impressively speedy in our testing (even with distant servers).
And of course, when it comes to streaming video content – particularly at higher resolutions – having plenty of performance on tap is a major benefit. Support for a wide variety of different devices that you might watch videos on is also key, and ExpressVPN offers that in spades.
Our second pick for a VPN to use with Twitch is Surfshark, which also offers great speeds for a slick streaming performance, and represents superb overall value for money - it's right up there among our picks of the today's top cheap VPNs. A ‘camouflage mode’ also hides that you’re using a VPN to stop your ISP potentially throttling any streaming activity (if the ISP engages in that practice).
Does Twitch allow the use of VPNs?
Nothing in Twitch's Terms of Service suggests using a VPN is prohibited. This makes sense when you consider, for the most part, any licensing issues prevalent with other streaming services is slim with video games generally universally released.
However, mutterings of shadow banning on comments when using a VPN have been noted by users on Reddit. This essentially means Twitch has blocked comments from appearing in the live chat for Twitch streams. The reason for this is unclear, though it could have to do with attempting to reduce cyber bullying and trying to maintain a safe space in Twitch live chat streams.
Can I use a free VPN for Twitch?
There are a number of free VPN services we recommend, including ProtonVPN (opens in new tab), though you will often come across limitations with these tools, including data and bandwidth limits.
It's also worth noting some VPNs out there that are free to use aren't always the safest. While most of the free services we rate have infrastructure supported by paying customers, others out there that seem tempting will fund its tool by selling your data to third-party companies. With the primary function of a VPN to boost your online security, then, using one of these seems counterproductive.