A Virtual Private Network is great at protecting your privacy. However, Netflix and other streaming services don’t always work with this technology. Here are a few that do, at least for now.
Will Netflix work with a VPN?
A virtual private network (VPN) is one of the best ways to safeguard your personal data. A VPN encrypts your information and then secures it through a process called encapsulation. When you use a VPN, you block your data from being intercepted by cybercriminals, advertisers, and other people that you don’t want to know your personal information, including where you are. But, Netflix and other streaming services have a vested interest in learning your location. These corporations expend a considerable amount of effort creating software that blocks VPN users. Fortunately, there are still a few services that work with Netflix.
What is a VPN anyway? And, how does it mask my location?
When you log onto the internet with a VPN, it scrambles everything you do online and routes it through a server far away. No one has access to your activity, even the company that operates the network. Your internet service provider (ISP) is also incapable of monitoring your online activities. This is important because, since 2017, ISPs can legally sell your browser history – even your most private online interactions – as long as they mask personally identifiable data.
Something else to consider here is that a VPN changes your IP address, which is how computers identify where you are geographically. IP addresses are remarkably accurate to your physical location. Routing your browsing activities, including watching Netflix, through a remote VPN server makes it appear as though you are elsewhere.
Using a VPN also makes it more difficult to fingerprint your online habits. Through browser fingerprinting, a company, law enforcement agency, or ISP can view GPS location, cookies, and other “hidden” data to determine information about you and your browsing habits. A virtual private network might not be able to sidestep every advanced tracking method, but it’s a great start and an excellent way to improve your online privacy.
Interestingly, VPNs are also used by people working in countries known for censorship. A VPN can allow you to access a blocked website when working in a location that would otherwise restrict your access. However, you should also know that VPNs are not without flaws. If you’re trying to access your online banking, for example, your bank’s fraud detection software might lock your account if your VPN pings from Europe or another country.
Why do Netflix and other streaming services block VPNs?
Netflix blocks VPN to restrict access to specific programming. This is because they have partnerships with television networks and licenses for certain TV shows by country. For example, Modern Family and Star Trek Discovery are not currently available in the US but may be viewed from Japan, Brazil, the UK, and Argentina. If you want to watch these or other location-restricted shows, you’ll need to connect with a VPN.
While most viewers will use a VPN to access Netflix to watch shows that are not licensed in the US, there is a practical reason to stream through a remote server. If you are traveling and want to watch Netflix – and you already pay for an account – using a VPN allows you to watch the shows you’re already paying for. Further, anytime you’re away from home, it’s almost always best to encrypt your data so that it does not get intercepted by a hacker.
Unfortunately, Netflix and the vast majority of other streaming services utilize VPN-blocking software to keep either scenario from happening. You should also know that using a VPN to connect with Netflix is a violation of the company’s terms of service.
Are there some VPN services that function better with Netflix?
The relationship between VPN services and Netflix is shaky at best. Some work just fine, while others are in a hard no-go zone. The ones mentioned in this guide were tested and, as of the date of publication, were still compatible with Netflix. This can change at any moment.
Will my VPN service always work with Netflix?
There is no guarantee that your favorite VPN service will work. Fortunately, there are a few tactics that might help you slide by so that you can watch your shows without leading your private information onto the internet. Here are some tips:
- Try different countries. Try logging in via servers in different countries. If content is streaming in one, chances are it’s available in another. You may also simply need to be patient. Just as Netflix continually strives to block VPNs, most VPNs are developing technology that will allow their services to bypass stream-blocking software.
- Don’t give up. Almost all VPN services utilize servers in numerous geographic locations. If you are having trouble logging into Netflix, try using a different VPN server. If your VPN provider doesn’t allow you to choose different servers, sign out of your account and log back in. Often, you will automatically be assigned a new IP address.
- Check for stealth mode. Some VPNs allow you to log in using stealth or unblocking mode. These are specialized servers dedicated exclusively to those wishing to stream Netflix. Read through your VPN’s website to see if they have special tools or a troubleshooting section that can help you answer common Netflix streaming questions.
Invest in a static IP address.
If you don’t mind a small additional fee, many VPNs Will sell you a static IP address. This is a fixed, public IP address that may either be private to you or shared with a limited number of other subscribers. The benefit to this is that having a constant IP address may not trigger Netflix’s blocking protocol. It looks more like routine internet traffic. Static IP addresses are sold according to country of origin, so you can choose your location. Again, there is no guarantee that you will still be able to stream Netflix, so cautious optimism is key.
Which is better for Netflix: free or paid VPNs?
While there are a few VPN services that don’t require a credit card, you will likely be significantly limited on your usage. Typically, a paid VPN service is your best bet for streaming Netflix. Take a look at our individual reviews for more information on each.
How will using a VPN affect my Netflix experience?
Using a virtual private network is an excellent way to protect your personal information. But, it is not without its caveats. You will almost certainly sacrifice speed in the quest to sneak your favorite shows. Because a VPN routes data through different portals, there is often significant latency and other audio and video quality issues. Netflix eats about 1 GB of data every hour that you watch SD video and three times that much when you want to stream in high definition. Because your server is remote, you will see a slowdown in upload and download speeds.
Is it worth it?
So, the question remains: is it worth it? The two major issues with streaming Netflix via a VPN are the potential that your VPN may not work each time, and your video and audio quality will not be the same as streaming directly through your home server and internet connection. These complications might not be as dire as they seem when you consider the trade-off of protecting your personal data. Ultimately, the choice to stream Netflix on a VPN comes down to your comfort level. VPNs are overall a great way to encrypt and safeguard information you don’t want leaching out into the public. The hope for the future is that streaming services will learn to accept that we value our privacy and will loosen restrictions on VPNs.
Here are several VPN choices if you’re looking to watch Netflix that way:
If you have cash to spare, NordVPN stands out as a premium VPN service with some of the most advanced technology in the industry.
- More than 500 servers
- Allows up to six VPN connections
- Double VPN connections
- Split tunneling
- Servers in 59 countries
- No free trial
- Sometimes cramped interface
A relatively new player in the VPN game, Surfshark offers unlimited streaming VPN connections. With servers in 65 countries, Surfshark is quickly making a name for itself among those wishing to stream Netflix using a VPN.
- Unlimited connections
- Split tunneling and multi-hop
- Static servers at no extra cost
- Confusing pricing structure
Express VPN is one of the most trusted VPN companies and is known for blocking data like a boss. This innovative service has recently caught the attention of crypto miners for its attention to detail where security is concerned.
- Unrivaled privacy
- OpenVPN protocol supported
- User-friendly interface
- Massive fleet of servers
- Requires some technical knowledge
VyperVPN has servers in more than 60 countries and uses its proprietary Chameleon protocol to encrypt information. Widespread availability and a headquarters in Switzerland, a country not subject to data retention laws, make VyprVPN a strong contender.
- Staunchly dedicated to privacy
- Routinely updated technology
- Massive geographical distribution of servers
- Affordable with an annual subscription
- Missing additional features
- Mediocre speeds
- Expensive on a monthly subscription
- No limit on connections
- Excellent geographic diversity
- Confusing privacy statement
- Unintuitive interface
- Lack of additional privacy options