The option to stream TV and movies has been around for a while, but never has it been as popular as it is today. In the past, the minority paid for video on demand services, while many others used illegal free websites.

Now, with reasonable prices and access throughout the world, services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are quickly starting to take over traditional methods of watching television. Unfortunately, we as consumers face a few hiccups.

A major challenge that we face is that these services offer limited content in countries outside the U.S. This is due to copyright conflicts with the local cable or satellite providers. In order to make the most of our subscriptions, we need a way to circumvent this problem and unblock streaming websites. For that, we turn to VPNs and proxies.

Most VPNs come with a relatively low subscription fee, but that does not mean we should dive in without doing the necessary research.

These are the 3 things you should always consider before paying for a VPN or proxy service.

1. How important is safety?

There are really two kinds of options to consider when trying to unblock streaming websites. Proxies and VPNs.

While both essentially do the same job - they mask the location of your IP address and make it seem like you're accessing a website from elsewhere - there is an important difference. Security.

VPNs encrypt your data, making it far less vulnerable to hackers or surveillance. Proxies, however, leave you open to potential attacks.

Security may not be a top priority of yours, and in that case, you may consider using a proxy. However, VPNs are recommended for everyone, even those who don’t use streaming websites, as you can never be too careful with your data on the web. This is especially true for those using free websites which push the bounds of legality (and break copyright).

2. Does it have good reviews?

No matter how good a VPN may sound, you should always check the reviews. Because it is playing such an important part in your web safety, it is vital that you can ascertain if the service does what it claims to.

There are lots of good options out there, but there are also those which are slightly less reliable. If you plan on using a free VPN especially, make sure that it is secure enough to withstand all potential attackers.

3. Have the streaming services blocked it?

You would be forgiven for thinking that Netflix, Amazon, and others would be benefitting from people using VPNs to get around copyright conflicts. After all, someone in another country is likelier to subscribe to their service if they know they can access all the content, rather than a small percentage.

Unfortunately, they're under pressure from authorities to stop unauthorised access and have therefore spent money on finding ways to block VPNs. Now, with many VPNs, Netflix will give you an error, telling you to turn it off before attempting to view the content.

Some VPNs have managed to surpass this increased security, and will give you access without a problem. However, many have not, and you might end up very frustrated when the VPN you've paid for does not give you full access.

Before you pay for a VPN, you must therefore do some research to find out whether it has been successful in this regard.