- By Service
- By Location
- By Device
However, there is one challenge that content streaming lovers must deal with if they want to get the most out of streaming services. Some content is geo-blocked, which means only people from certain geographical locations are allowed to access it. Is there a way around this geo-blocking? Yeah – the use of a virtual private network (VPN).
A VPN works by masking the user’s actual location and making them appear as if they are accessing a streaming platform from where the VPN server they are connected to is located. However, VPNs are about far more than content streaming and there’s a lot more that they can do for you. But before we look at the best VPN services for streaming, let’s first understand streaming itself and how it works.
When websites first came into existence, they were mere simple pages of text, perhaps with a few still images. That has since changed. Thanks to a technology known as streaming, any internet user with a good internet connection could make a video call or stream a high-definition video over the internet. Defined, streaming is the process by which a video or audio file is continuously transmitted from a server to a client. Or let’s put it another way: have you ever listened to a podcast or watched a TV show on your internet device? What you were doing is what is known as streaming.
How Streaming Works
Video and audio data, just like any other form of data transmitted online, is first disintegrated into what is known as data packets before it can be transmitted from one user to another. Each of these packets embeds a small portion of the file being transmitted. When these portions are transmitted fast and in close succession, they form an audio or video file. As opposed to text and still image transmission, video or audio file transmission requires a super-fast internet connection. Poor speeds cause latency, leading to poor file streaming.
Streaming and Downloading: What Is the Difference?
If you download an audio or video file, the file will be stored on the hard drive of your device for future consumption. That means the hard drive should have enough space to accommodate the file. You cannot watch or listen to the file until the download process is complete. It is a whole different story when it comes to streaming. In the latter, content is played in real-time, without having to download and save the file. This means you don’t need space on your hard drive to stream content online. All that said and done, let’s now embark on the gist: the six best VPNs for streaming.
In this section, we take a detailed look at each of these tools, but for those readers who don’t have time to delve into the details, or if you simply don’ like to read long texts, here is a snapshot of this section.
NordVPN: A great VPN solution with a large server network, as well as fast speeds, which make it one of the best for streaming.
ExpressVPN: This is what defines this shortlist, and if we were to pick only one VPN out of the six, then ExpressVPN would be the pick. The tool boasts super-fast speeds, as well as top-notch privacy and security features.
IPVanish: One of the most popular tools among torrentors. It has great privacy features and good speeds
PrivateVPN: One of the newest arrivals in the market, yet one of the best in streaming.
CyberGhost: One of the easiest tools to use; hence, a favorite for newbies. It is also pocket-friendly. This makes it ideal for users on a budget.
VyprVPN: Owns and manages its own data centers and has good speeds. Its security features are top-notch to boot.
To better understand why each of the above-mentioned tools cut, we must look at them in details.
NordVPN is a great pick for users who want to protect and elevate their music and video streaming sessions. The tool has plenty of power to access geo-blocked content, besides its ability to anonymize user traffic. With 5,200+ servers under their belt, the provider has what it takes to access files in most regions around the world. The servers are located in various cities across 60 countries, making it possible to unblock regional content on the likes of Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu. And there is nothing like bandwidth limitations or even data caps when it comes to NordVPN. The service also delivers exceptionally high speeds, which allow for latency-free video and audio streaming.
Switching gears to security and anonymity, NordVPN hides and protects your online traffic with military-grade encryption. The provider also keeps its word on zero-logs policy, ensuring that users cannot be traced in case there is a need. As if to seal all the loopholes on privacy, the provider also supports Bitcoin as a subscription payment method. Is that all? No. The tool’s platform compatibility is simply great, with virtually every popular platform covered. There are apps for macOS, iOS, Android, Windows, and Linux. Android TV has not been left out either. While the tool supports up to six simultaneous connections, there is a way for those who need to connect more than six devices – there is comprehensively designed router support.
Yes, NordVPN is a quite reliable service, but you can’t rule out hiccups. In the unlikely event of any problem, there is reliable round-the-clock support chat, as well as email support. New users are given an opportunity to test the tool thanks to the 30-day refund period.
As already said, ExpressVPN is a clear number one on any VPN list, as of 2019. It has the fastest connection speeds, which are also well protected. The tool has excellent server coverage, with 3,000+ servers. While NordVPN has more than 5,000 servers spread in well about 60 countries, the provider is nowhere near ExpressVPN in terms of country coverage. ExpressVPN’s servers are distributed in a whopping 94 countries. Remember, the more the countries covered, the more geo-blocked content available for a VPN to unblock.
With ExpressVPN, you can stream content on Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and many more platforms. The tool’s connection speeds have everything needed to effectively handle HD, as well as 4K streams, which are the average offered by the majority of streaming services. Such bothers as bandwidth restrictions and data caps are unheard of. With a military-grade encryption in place, the security of the tool’s super fast connection is never a concern. Privacy is never an issue either. This is all thanks to a true zero-logs policy. The Bitcoin payment method makes user privacy even better.
The apps offered include Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, Amazon Fire TV, and Android apps. Also available are extensions for browsers, including Firefox and Chrome. For users who want to stream content on Samsung Smart TV, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Apple TV, and many more devices and platforms, ExpressVPN offers MediaStreamer DNS service, which lets them do that. However, when using this service, your connection will not be encrypted at all.
Can’t find a protective option compatible with your device from the above list? There is one more option you can take advantage of: the router option, which protects a wide range of devices. This option also enables users to circumvent the the provider’s five concurrent device connection limit. If you hit a soft block, you can quickly contact the support staff via live chat, which is active 24/7. Alternative systems include a trouble ticket channel, support library, and email. Want to use this premium service for free? Simply grab their 30-day refund period.
This tool delivers fast connections, which easily meet the requirements of 4K and HD streaming services. PrivateVPN boasts plenty of content unblocking power, despite the fact that the provider does not lay claim to the largest server network. However, with the provider claiming to be the world’s fastest-growing service, users have every reason to keep their fingers crossed that more servers are in the offing. As of 2019, PrivateVPN has just over 150 servers, which is clearly the lowest server count on this list. But why did the service make the cut? Well, it is because the provider uses these servers to the maximum advantage of users. The fact that such a small number of servers is spread in 60 countries, with the US and UK being the most covered, is just amazing. And believe it or not, PrivateVPN beats most of the other tools on this list when it comes to speed. Whether you want to unblock Netflix, HBO, or Hulu, you can comfortably do that with PrivateVPN. Extras such as Sling TV and many more content streaming networks are also well covered.
Thanks to the service’s military-grade encryption, there is nothing to worry about as far as protection of their connections is concerned. With bandwidth limitations and data caps nowhere to be found, media streaming fans can rest assured nothing will spoil their fun. To ensure maximum privacy, the tool’s servers never keep any user logs. As a bonus, Bitcoin is listed as a payment method. The method allows users to transact anonymously.
At the moment (2019), PrivateVPN provides apps for only four platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. For other devices, there is comprehensive router support. A maximum of six concurrent connections are supported.
Another aspect which puts PrivateVPN on this list is its 24/7 live chat support system. While a searchable knowledgebase section is missing at the moment, there is a ‘Contact Us’ form provided on their website.
This is perhaps the best VPN solution for newbies who wish to efficiently upgrade their media streaming sessions without compromising ease of use. With this service, you will access plenty of geo-restricted content from the likes of Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu, just to name but a few. The provider has put together a global network of well over 4,500 servers erected in 59 or so countries and delivers 4K- and HD-capable speeds. The connections are free of bandwidth limitations and data caps, and they are jealously guarded with military-grade encryption, which cushions user traffic from spies and malicious eyes.
Multi-platform compatibility is provided by CyberGhost in abundance. There are myriad apps for Windows, Amazon Fire TV, Android, macOS, Android TV, and iOS devices. The apps are easy to use. This VPN is also compatible with a wide range of router models and makes. Hence, if you’re using any other device apart from those mentioned, the provider still has got you well covered. This option also covers users who want to connect more than seven devices.
Talking of privacy, the provider has done excellent work. Besides implementing their no-logs policy to the letter, CyberGhost accepts the anonymous payment method, Bitcoin, which protects your financial information like no other. Your support needs are covered by a searchable library, a ticket system, and live chat.
This is just another great VPN solution with great features for streaming. However, it is kind of a mixed bag, with solid privacy and security on one end, and somewhat lacklustre customer care on the other. Its speeds are generally reliable irrespective of where the user is connecting from, and the bandwidth is unlimited. VyprVPN has the power to break into major streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, BBC iPlayer, and Hulu.
Whether this is your first time using the VPN or you have experience using VyprVPN, you won’t experience any challenges using the tool. The engineers behind it did an excellent job to make everything simple and user-friendly. On top of its proprietary protocol (Chameleon), the tool comes with plenty of security settings you could play around with. To users who love streaming on the move, it is good news that the tool boasts some of the best mobile apps you will find in the market. This makes it one of the best picks for Android users.
VyprVPN has two plans: the Standard Plan and the Premium Plan. While the form supports three concurrent connections, the latter comes with five simultaneous connections. Users can choose between monthly and yearly subscriptions, with the latter proving to be the cheapest in the long run. In place also is a 30-day refund period for users who want to discover the tool before committing.
With the power to unblock Sling TV, Amazon Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer, IPVanish is clearly one of the best VPN services for streaming. While not all of its servers can unblock Netflix, the tool does unblock the platform on some of its servers. It also supports HD streaming, and there are no data caps or bandwidth limitations experienced. Depending on the connection speeds at the moment of streaming, you can enjoy 4K content as well.
As opposed to other service providers on this list who obtain servers from third parties, IPVanish operates its own 1,300+plus servers, which are situated in about 50 countries. This way, no third-party operator has a chance to gain access to user data. While IPVanish does not support Bitcoin payment, the user’s financial information is still kept under key and lock, thanks to the provider’s strict implementation of a no-logs policy. In terms of security, all prying eyes are kept at bay by a buffer known as military-grade encryption.
IPVanish provides apps for multiple platforms, such as Windows, macOS, Amazon Fire TV, Android, and Linus. And there is also router compatibility for those users whose devices are not covered by these apps. With support for a generous 10 concurrent connections, IPVanish is one of the very few services which support such a high number. And don’t forget that the wide-ranging router compatibility allows for extra simultaneous connections.
The customer support is above par, and it is available 24/7 via live chat and email. Complementing these options is a searchable support library, which is an essential feature for any excellent service.
When choosing the best VPN based on streaming content on such platforms as Netflix, BBC iPlayer, DAZN, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO, there are things to look for in the tool. The best service provider should be able to effectively bypass content restrictions on some of the most popular content portals. Many VPN services out there trick users into thinking that they are the best solutions for streaming when they are, in fact, one of the worst. So, don’t fall for this kind of flattery. Since unblocking Netflix is perhaps the most difficult task for any VPN, any tool which allows you to stream content on this platform is definitely an excellent service for streaming. Netflix is known to employ some of the most sophisticated technologies for VPN detection, and that why very few VPN solutions can fool the site.
Having provided you with the top-six VPN solutions for streaming, this guide has already done the hardest part. All that remains for you is to choose any of the recommended services, sign up with them, and start streaming your favorite media files right away. But how did this guide arrive at the six picks? Well, here are the factors that were considered.
The number of servers offered by any particular VPN service is a top factor when looking for the best VPN for streaming. The server count is what determines the efficiency of your connections. Remember, the higher the server count, the less the congestion and the higher the speed. The opposite is true. Congestion occurs when so many users are trying to connect to a server at the same time. Congestion results in poor connections and prolonged buffering. With congestion, even your HD movie cannot be crystal clear, and you will have to contend with frequent stops. Given that congestion is an enemy of streaming, it was only natural for this guide to consider the number of servers as one of the factors for choosing the best VPN tool for streaming. Wondering why PrivateVPN was included? That is already explained.
Now there is no much happiness in a VPN provider having 10,000+ servers all located in countries where there is no premium content. Server locations are important if you’re looking to access content from certain regions or countries around the world. Look at Netflix, for instance; the platform is offered to almost every part of the world, but its content catalog seems to differ from country to country or region to region.
While American Netflix allows American users full access to movies and TV shows, people from other parts of the world are only allowed to access certain content on the same platform, depending on their locations. In fact, some locations don’t access even half of what American Netflix contains. Hence, if you want to gain access to the entire Netflix catalog, then your choice of VPN provider must have lots of servers in America. Thankfully, the providers recommended in this guide have lots of servers there.
Since streaming HD content requires a large amount of bandwidth, you need a VPN provider which meets that requirement. How would you feel if your bandwidth is depleted while you are halfway through with the last episode of your favorite TV show? Bandwidth throttling simply means that your connection will be slowed down. The worst scenario is when the connection stops completely. The VPNs provided above offer unlimited bandwidth, which ensures there is nothing like throttling while streaming content.
The Speed of the Servers
To stream content in HD, you need super-fast servers lest your video quality will be poor. Just because a VPN has lots of servers does not mean it is good for streaming. If the servers have limits on them or they are slow, then you’d better snub the tool and look elsewhere. This guide chose services which offer the fastest servers and connections.
Value for Money
If you pay for a VPN tool whose performance is below par when it comes to streaming, then you may probably not get value for your money. While you may be on a budget, the best VPN for streaming is not necessarily the cheapest but one which offers the best value for money. One thing you must not forget is that free VPNs are not the best for the job. They come with a lot of disadvantages, such as bandwidth limitation and lots of annoying ads – not to mention security and privacy issues. So, keep off such tools if you want to have the best experience streaming.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is one of the most important factors when choosing the best VPN service for streaming. However, it is often overlooked. An easy-to-use tool makes your streaming sessions a lot better. If possible, there should be a single connect button, and the tool’s layout should be simple for easy navigation. The six tools provided in this text meet these requirements.
Without good customer support in place, every good thing about a VPN service provider could be nothing. You will definitely not be happy with a service which takes a whole day to resolve a minor issue. Good support is one which is responsive and professional in their work. The above tools fit this bill.
Watching shows and movies online seems quite simple for many people. When streaming content online, however, your computer or mobile gadget will send important information to the server which hosts the content. That means someone can easily track your traffic and even gain access to your personal information, including email and password. Thankfully, VPNs are here to protect your online activities and personal information from spies and hackers. Hence, it makes a lot of sense to use a VPN tool when streaming media files online. The following are some of the reasons why a VPN is essential for streaming.
While torrenting fans have been the most hit when it comes to content protection laws, their streaming counterparts seem to be dealing with their fair share of troubles. Today (as of 2019), there are laws in place forbidding streaming. With these laws increasingly taking effect, there is a likelihood that you may soon receive an email or letter, forbidding you from accessing your favorite streaming platform. While this may happen, you can still circumvent the law by using one of the best VPNs for streaming. With such a tool, you will be able to continue accessing any content of your choice, irrespective of your location or whether the content is blocked or restricted. Above all, the tool will mask your identity when streaming content. This will prevent authorities from catching up with you.
Access to More Content
A VPN will give you express access to both restricted and unrestricted content. If you know a thing or two about Netflix, for instance, you should be aware that the platform’s content catalogs are determined by country. If you sign up with the site, you will be allowed to access content which is exclusive to your country while, at the same time, being blocked from accessing content meant for other countries. Why does the platform have to geo-block content? That is because Netflix does not have rights to provide the content in all countries. Hence, limiting access is a way of abiding by the law.
VPNs give users the power to quickly switch from one IP address to another in order to access geo-blocked content. If you want to stream content restricted to a particular country, all you need to do is choose a server located in that country and connect to it. This way, you can watch any geo-restricted content from a single location, as long as the tool you’re using has the server locations you need.
Faster Content Streaming
If you stream content using a VPN, it means you’ll enjoy a faster streaming experience than if you were not using the tool. If you have experience streaming or even downloading content online, then you may have noticed that there are times when it takes longer than usual for the content to load. Yes, while streaming portals are partly to blame for the delay (some of them want you to opt into a paid subscription for better speeds), the internet service providers have their fair share of the blame. They tend to limit your bandwidth and eventually slow down your connection speed when they realize that you are trying to stream or download content.
You can avoid the said problem by choosing the best VPN for streaming. With the best tool for the job, your internet service provider will never detect whether you are streaming, downloading, or uploading any content. This puts you in the right place to enjoy the best and fastest speeds of your internet connection.
The biggest content streaming sites include Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu, and Twitch.tv, among other platforms.
Netflix: For movie and TV show fans, Netflix, especially American Netflix, is one of the most popular streaming services thanks to its huge content library. With Netflix, more and more people are now turning their back on the conventional cable TV, and with the arrivals of iPad and smart TVs, Netflix is poised to completely eject cable TV from existence.
YouTube: Unlike Netflix, YouTube is a user-generated streaming site which has injected a tremendous wave of change in the internet landscape. The portal mainly focuses on users, allowing them to have a final say on what they want to do with their content. The videos can be shared with other internet users who may take it viral. YouTube also offers a section where users watch catch-up TV from 4OD, Channel 5, etc. There are also plenty of stream music, live TV events, and films to watch on YouTube.
Hulu: A giant streaming site perhaps best known for two unique things. Firstly, the service allows users to join for free, with an option to upgrade to a paid premium service later if they want to. Secondly, the site airs some of the most popular movies and TV shows. Those on the paid subscription can take advantage of the Hulu app for the best streaming sessions.
Amazon Prime Instant Video: Owned and operated by Amazon, this is perhaps Netflix’s arch-rival. It is a sister website to Amazon Prime, which is another giant and popular platform for content streaming. It is the only portal which partners with HBO to offers HBO shows, even though the partnership does not cover the hugely popular Game of Thrones. However, there is one easily noticeable drawback, which is the fact that there is no monthly payment plan. The only plan available requires users to pay on a 12-month basis.
Twitch.tv: Like Amazon Prime Instant Video, Twitch.tv is owned by Amazon. Unlike many other streaming sites, which focus on TV shows and movies, Twitch.tv primarily offers video gaming and gaming-related events, such as e-sports competitions. With this site, you can either view content live or via what is known as Video on demand. The site is mobile-friendly, and it is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Its compatibility also stretches a bit further to cover popular gaming consoles, such as Xbox One, Xbox, and PlayStation 4.
While content streaming is such a popular online activity, it is not immune to problems. In fact, there are times when you may get disappointed, especially when it comes to speed. While there are other factors that may slow down your streaming speed, network congestion and latency are the most common causes. So, how do you deal with these problems to ensure you have a smooth and high-quality streaming experience? Well, for every problem, there is always a solution. Besides using a VPN for the best speeds, other tips which could be of help include the following:
While there is no assurance that the above tips will definitely resolve your problem, most of them tend to have a positive impact on your streaming experience. Reach out to your internet service provider if the tips fail to work. The ISP should be able to trace the cause of your problem and offer a solution.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you in understanding how effective various different VPN solutions are when it comes to streaming. While there are lots of VPNs which support streaming, only a few of them have what it takes to unblock services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Studio, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Besides the power to unblock content, there are many other factors, which go into determining the best VPNs for streaming, with speed and security features standing out. The best VPN for streaming should also offer unlimited bandwidth to ensure you catch all your favorite shows and movies without missing a thing. Based on these factors (and of course others which we don’t need to mention again), the best VPNs for streaming are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, IPVanish, CyberGhost, VyprVPN, and PrivateVPN. So, if you’ve been looking for the best VPN to stream content, all these tools are equal to the task. Although each one of them has got its own drawbacks, such drawbacks have no noticeable impact on the quality of your connection and what you are able to stream with it.