The other day, Dan shared a nice article about using VPN services to get around streaming restrictions in Japan by faking a US IP address.

The options he mentioned in that article all seem solid and are worth checking out. But many of the paid services listed had the drawback of limiting users' monthly bandwidth. And to be honest, one thing that kept me from looking into it seriously was the technical barrier--even if I signed up for a service, I was worried that it would take excessive time to configure and be a headache to maintain.

But my impressions about the learning curve of VPN services changed dramatically upon talking to a friend who uses HideMyAss VPN to access US content providers from Japan and who was gracious enough to let me test drive the service.

The strengths of HideMyAss, compared to the host of other premium VPN services online, are its unlimited bandwidth (for all users; there is only one pricing tier, with discounts for buying 6- or 12-months of service in advance) and a dead simple setup process. For Windows and Mac users, you simply download a program and run it--it installs a network controller and handles all the backend stuff on your behalf. I was amazed at how simple the thing was to use: Open the interface, select a country, and push "connect". In thirty seconds' work you're browsing with a US IP.

Yes, tunneling your internet traffic through a PC halfway around the world will cut down on your speeds. However, HideMyAss provides diagnostic software to help you select the fastest possible connection, and even their "slower" servers allowed me to stream Youtube and Netflix content without trouble. In fact, minus very large downloads (looking at you, Steam), the connection felt perky enough to use full-time.

HideMyAss also appears to have a long, stable running history. They have been operating since 2005 and now have quite a large number of servers for customers to choose from. About half of those servers are in the US. Online reviews of the service are generally quite positive, and the company itself seems to be very open about their privacy policies. (Just don't use it to hack into corporate websites... after posting on a public forum which service you are using and what you're using it for.)

In conclusion, if you are sick of reading "This video is not available in your country" messages, but are worried that a VPN setup will be unnecessarily complicated, I'd highly recommend checking HideMyAss out. You can even make a small, indirect donation to AccessJ's account by signing up through this link.

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