Best VPNs for Netflix – VPN’s that Work with Netflix
If you are a fellow Netflix lover, you may have had the following experience. You are on a business trip overseas. After a gruelling day of travel and work, you finally make it back to the hotel for some rest. The ideal opportunity to make headway on that show you’ve been watching. You fire up Netflix, login, and unfortunately, the show is gone! You search frantically, but can’t find a single season or episode. Where is your show? The answer is that Netflix only offers that show in specific countries, and you are no longer located in one of them. If you have actually ever been locked out of Netflix content while travelling, or seek to access content from another country, you have probably realised how vexing the problem can be. But fear not! This guide is here to help. It will explain the background behind Netflix’s policy of geographic restrictions and the solution; access via VPN. A detailed comparison of the top five Netflix-enabled VPN’s will give you everything you need to make an informed choice.
6 Best VPNs For Netflix
- Over 5000 servers that work in 60 countries
- Military level encryption
- Untraceable browsing is enabled
- Offers its customers a money-back guarantee for 30 days
- Free 3-day trial
- 170 different locations
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Easy to use and neat interface
- 31 Day Money Back Guarantee
- Supports Xbox and Playstation
- Versatile additional features
- Fairly affordable VPN service
- An impressive number of advanced features
- Works with Netflix
- Possibility to pay only 1€/month per location
- OpenVPN, IKEv2, SOCKS5
Why Does Netflix Have Geographic Restrictions?
Netflix licenses a majority of the content it offers on its service. Each country where Netflix operates has its own set of copyright laws, and therefore its own set of copyright holders. This means that the company which owns the rights to a show in the US, may not own the rights in France, Germany, or Japan. So, every time Netflix wants to provide access to specific content in a new country, it has to negotiate licensing rights with the owners in that country. Sometimes, there are issues. For example, rights holders in one country might want to withhold granting a license to Netflix, because they want to make the content available on a proprietary streaming service. In another country, the license might be issued. The result is that Netflix offers different content in different countries. Users are granted access to content depending on their physical location. That is why you may be surprised to find that the show you’ve been watching for months in the US, disappeared when you got to Germany. Netflix has said that they aim to provide all of their content globally at some point. In the meantime, unfortunately, we are left with this messy country-specific configuration.
Netflix IP Geo-Location
How does Netflix know where you are when you log on? Are they spying on you? Definitely not! Every device which accesses the internet is granted an IP (Internet Protocol) address. This number (which looks something like 123.456.78.90) is attached to every request your computer sends over the internet. It is the way internet servers know which device to send responses to. But here’s the thing; the IP address, is also a physical address. Each number can be correlated to the servers of your ISP (Internet Service Provider). Sometimes, your IP address can be used to track your location with a frightening degree of accuracy (search “IP location” in Google). When you access any website on the internet, your computer identifies itself with its IP address, and therefore also its location (at least the country). This is how Netflix filters content by location. Whenever you log on, the site gets your location information from your IP address and serves you the version of the service appropriate for that location.
Enter Our Saviour; the VPN
So if Netflix always knows where I am, how can I possibly hope to access my beloved show? The solution is to trick the site into thinking you are somewhere that you’re not, by accessing it through a foreign IP address. This is done with a VPN or virtual private network. A VPN acts as a buffer between your device and the servers of the site you are trying to access. When you actually connect to a VPN, all of your internet requests are sent to its servers. These servers then reach out to the site you are trying to access and relay the response back to your device. This is useful for security purposes since it masks the identity of your device as you access the internet. The setup is also helpful in bypassing things such as Netflix’s geographic restrictions, depending on where the VPN’s servers are located. To illustrate; imagine you are in Azerbaijan and you log in to a VPN whose servers are in the US. When you try to access Netflix, the request is sent from your machine to the server in the US, then from there to Netflix using the US server’s US IP address. Since the request is coming from a US address, Netflix serves the US version of the site. This gets sent back to the VPN server, which then gets sent back to you. Hooray! Now you can access the US, or any other country’s, version of Netflix, as long as your VPN has a server located in that country.
The Great VPN Crackdown
This seems like a great solution for accessing non-local Netflix content, and it was, before 2016. Until then, Netflix had been fairly relaxed about people sneaking around its geographic restrictions. The VPN solution is a nice one, but it’s not a huge innovation. Anyone with basic IT knowledge would think of it, and you can bet Netflix did as well. But as Netflix gained popularity across the globe, and started producing its own content, pressure mounted to protect copyright holders in different countries. In 2016, Netflix announced its intention to crack down on VPN access to its content. It did this by adding a layer of VPN detecting software to the servers which serve the actual video content. All of a sudden, when you accessed Netflix through your reliable VPN, the site itself would appear as normal. But when you tried to open an actual video, you would get this message: “Streaming Error: You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.” No one knows Netflix’s precise methods for detecting which IPs are from VPNs and which are genuine. However, certain things are dead giveaways. For example, VPNs will often have only a handful of IP addresses per server. Netflix’s algorithms probably pick up on large numbers of requests coming from a single IP address and flag it as a VPN. Alternatively, VPNs sometimes use blocks of consecutive IP addresses. These can be flagged as well.
Netflix-VPN Arms Race
Netflix’s efforts to shut down VPN access were largely successful. A vast majority of VPNs can no longer access Netflix content. However, the number of VPNs doubled down and responded to the ban by coming up with even craftier ways of evading Netflix’s algorithms. Their goal was to continue providing non-local Netflix access as a key service to their customers. The result has created a game of cat-and-mouse. Netflix improves its filters and blocks out VPN servers, and the VPNs fight back with new tactics. The speed with which this game plays out means that Netflix-enabled VPNs are shutdown and pop up constantly. This means a fair amount of frustration for anyone who is trying to find a consistent Netflix-enabled solution. We have done this work for you. Below you will find a useful comparison list of the top Netflix-enabled VPNs which, at least at the time of writing, have been providing consistent access to Netflix content in several countries. We have compared these providers based on a series of factors; price, streaming speed, security, and consistency of Netflix access. Speed is an important factor in finding a good Netflix-enabled VPN. If you can access videos, but don’t have enough bandwidth to watch them, then you haven’t really found a working solution. We have rated the services in terms of ultimate usability.
A Note About Apps
The attempt to fool the Netflix servers into thinking that you are in a different location faces a further level of complication when using apps to access the service, as opposed to an internet browser. This is because of another component of internet access called DNS: Domain Name Servers. These are servers used to match up the names of websites (i.e. “www.netflix.com”) with the IP address associated with them. DNS servers also have a physical location. Typically, the server you use is provided by an ISP and is located in your own country. The DNS server used to connect to a website is also made known to that site. This means the site can compare the location encoded in an IP address and the location of the DNS server. If these don’t match, it indicates that something is amiss. If you try to access Netflix with an IP/DNS mismatch, you guessed it, you will be blocked. If you are using a VPN through a browser, this is not a problem. The VPNs have their own DNS servers which they use to prevent mismatches. But if you are using Netflix on a particular device, the app may force it to use the local DNS server. What this actually means is, that even if you a find a VPN which will allow you to access non-local Netflix through your internet browser, this doesn’t mean that you will be able to use Netflix apps over that VPN. There are technologies available, called smart DNS proxies, which can overcome this obstacle as well, but not all VPNs offer them. So, if having app access to non-local Netflix is a must, you need to confirm that the VPN service supports it. This is especially true for devices such as smart TVs and gaming consoles. All of the services on this list support Android and iOS Netflix, but not all of them support further devices. This has been indicated as needed.
Topping the list is ExpressVPN. This service has dedicated a lot of effort to allowing customers non-local Netflix access. At any one time, they have over 3000 servers in 160 locations worldwide and use 30000 IP addresses.
- Consistency of Access: The sheer number of servers means that Netflix cannot keep up and block them all. The result is consistent access to Netflix in the US, UK, and Canada.
- Speed: ExpressVPN provides blazing fast speeds. The service can be used to stream even HD content from servers across the globe.
- Security and Privacy: This VPN uses 256-bit AES encryption, which means your data will be totally safe even as it passes through the series of VPN servers. ExpressVPN also has a no-logging policy, which means none of your data is stored anywhere in their system. This means your privacy is protected.
- Netflix App Support?: Yes! ExpressVPN comes with its own smart DNS proxy called MediaStreamer, which allows unblocking Netflix on virtually all devices including tablets, smart TVs, and gaming consoles.
- Other Perks: ExpressVPN offers 24-hour live customer support. This is useful because it means you will not have to experiment with servers to find which one will allow you to access Netflix. A quick chat with the service representative will have you ready to watch. The service also has a 30-day money-back guarantee. Each subscription allows for five simultaneous connections.
- Price: The downside to all of the great features of ExpressVPN is the price tag. At $6.67/month it is the most expensive service on this list. But, you get what you pay for.
Coming a close second is NordVPN. Based in Panama, this service’s overall emphasis is security and privacy. Part of privacy means being able to access any site on the internet discreetly and anonymously, which means getting around geographical blocks such as Netflix’s. NordVPN runs over 5000 servers in over 60 locations.
- Consistency of Access: NordVPN’s server count allows for consistent access to Netflix worldwide. There is support for access in the US, the UK, Netherlands, Canada, France, and more.
- Speed: The biggest downside to using NordVPN is the speed. Generally, the connections are high-speed and have no problem supporting HD streaming. However, many users have reported occasional lags on some of the servers. Practically, this means that once in a while, you may have to fish around for a faster connection. This is not a serious issue, but it is something to consider.
- Security and Privacy: As mentioned, NordVPN is serious about security. They offer 2048-bit encryption and a no-logging policy. Your data will be safe, and you can be sure of private access. The service also comes with a whole host of other security features.
- Netflix App Support?: Yes! NordVPN has apps which run on Android and iOS, which allow you to use the Netflix apps on those devices. This is not as comprehensive as ExpressVPN’s system. It will not allow for access via gaming consoles, for example.
- Other Perks: Live chat support. 30-day money-back guarantee. The extra security features, such as double VPN may be useful for certain users. Six simultaneous connections per subscription are included.
- Price: At $2.99/month NordVPN offers attractive pricing. In terms of usability, we have chosen to place it second to ExpressVPN, but for the budget-minded user, it may be the better option.
SurfShark is undoubtedly a relatively new player in the VPN market, and, frankly, that’s the only reason it isn’t higher up on this list. The service currently has over 800 servers in 50 countries, but this number is constantly growing.
- Consistency of Access: SurfShark puts an emphasis on getting around things such as the Netflix block. As a result, all of its servers can access Netflix. Many of them redirect to the US version of the service. However, there is also access to Netflix UK, France, Japan, and beyond.
- Speed: Speeds on SurfShark’s servers are fast enough to compete with other heavy-weight VPNs. The connections are certainly fast enough to stream HD video. However, connection speeds are inconsistent and seem to depend on different times of the day.
- Security and Privacy: SurfShark uses 256-bit AES encryption and has a strict no-logging policy. It also makes use of the latest VPN protocols IKEv2/IPSec to ensure safe and secure access.
- Netflix App Support?: Yes! Surfshark runs on Android and iOS, so you can access Netflix through the app. It also runs on game consoles and smart TVs.
- Other Perks: 24/7 live chat support is available. SurfShark also allows for unlimited connections with each subscription, which means you can share one subscription with a whole family (or beyond). You also get a 30-day money-back guarantee on the 24-month plan. The service comes with a friendly user interface, which is simple to use.
- Price: For 24 months, the cost comes down to $1.99. A great price for this level of service!
CyberGhost is a VPN service running out of Romania which has been around for a relatively long time. While there were some concerns about the level of security provided by the service in the past, these seem to have cleared up in recent years. The changes are likely due to new management put in place after the company was recently acquired. The service has also become specifically video streaming focused, and offers a targeted user interface for accessing streaming services. CyberGhost has increased its number of servers in recent years and now has close to 4000 in 60 different countries.
- Consistency of Access:CyberGhost has servers in the US dedicated specifically for Netflix traffic, for guaranteed and easy access. Netflix can be accessed in other countries as well, including the UK, Germany, and France. Access in other countries may not be available.
- Speed: CyberGhost’s speeds are variable. Some servers, such as the dedicated Netflix one, will provide high-speed connections. With others, you can be stuck with much slower connection speeds which may have an effect on video playback. The unreliable speeds on some servers are the main downside to choosing this service.
- Security and Privacy: CyberGhost prides itself on security. It provides 256-bit AES encryption and has a no-logging policy. Since the company is located in Romania, it also means that your data will not be subject to snooping from global law enforcement agencies (if, for some reason, that’s important to you).
- Netflix App Support?: Yes! There are CyberGhost apps for Android and iOS, which allow for Netflix app access.
- Other Perks: One of the exciting things about CyberGhost is its dedicated streaming-focused user interface. The application presents you with a series of servers which can be used to access different services (such as Netflix) in different countries. This prevents the hassle of trying to connect to different servers in different countries at random to find the ones that provide access. There is a 45-day money-back guarantee for subscriptions of over six months and a 14 day limit for shorter subscriptions. You get seven simultaneous connections per subscription.
- Price: The price varies based on length of the subscription. You can get as low as $2.65/month on a three-year plan.
A smaller, but still serious contender in the VPN market is Sweden’s PrivateVPN. This network boasts over 150 servers in 60 countries. This doesn’t match the volume and diversity of locations achieved by some of the other entries on this list, but it is still sufficient to provide a high standard of service.
- Consistency of Access:PrivateVPN’s servers provide consistent access to Netflix in the US, UK, Canada, Germany, and beyond. However, one of the unfortunate risks of using a service with a small network size is that some future updates to Netflix’s blocking software could wipe out much of the access.
- Speed: PrivateVPN advertises high-speed connections, but with a network this small, you know that you are definitely going to hit some slow patches. This is exactly the case. When the network isn’t overloaded speeds are easily high enough to stream HD content. However, there are slow periods which can bring down the connection speeds enough to affect video streaming altogether.
- Security and Privacy: PrivateVPN uses top-of-the-line 2048-bit encryption on connections to its servers. It uses all the up-to-date VPN protocols (OpenVPN, IKEv2, IPSec, etc.), so there is no question that connections are secure, but are they private? PrivateVPN claims they don’t keep logs of user data. However, they are located in Sweden which is part of an international alliance of countries known as the 14 Eyes. These countries require VPN companies to record and report certain elements of user data. So IP addresses and cookies are likely being recorded.
- Netflix App Support?: Yes! PrivateVPN runs on Android and iOS, but it will not allow access from smart TVs or gaming consoles.
- Other Perks: PrivateVPN does not have live chat support, but you can have a support worker who resolves issues on your machine via remote assistance. The software is straightforward to install and use. There is also a seven-day free trial. Six connections are allowed at a time.
- Price: A 13 month plan comes out to $3.82/month.
There are a lot of options for quality VPNs out there. This list details only five, which we consider the very best. Here are some runners-up which you can definitely check out:
Stay Away – Not working with Netflix
There were many popular VPN services which were used to bypass Netflix blocks before 2016, which no longer work. Other VPNs successfully bypass the block, but whose speeds are too slow for effective streaming. Here is a list of services to avoid:
- Private Internet Access
- Opera VPN
If you dig around online enough, you will find VPNs which offer their services for free. If so, why pay for a monthly service? Firstly, most of these services are not of high quality. This means that they are likely not Netflix-enabled and have low-speed connections. Even if you find a free VPN which will get you access to Netflix and/or related services, the biggest concern is security. Getting free VPN service sounds too good to be true because it is. Running a VPN is expensive. It involves maintaining quite a bit of infrastructure. People also don’t run VPNs as a public service, they are looking to make a profit. If the service is being provided for free, then where is all of this money coming from? The answer is the consumer. By their nature, VPNs require users to funnel all of their internet data through the system. The VPN administrators have access to all this information. Free networks monetise themselves by repackaging and selling user data. From a privacy and security standpoint, this is a disaster. For this reason, despite the temptations of free service, we strongly recommend steering clear of any free VPN.
We hope that one day soon, services such as Netflix will offer all of their content globally. Until that time, though, the cat-and-mouse game of Netflix blocking VPNs and the VPNs outsmarting those blocks will continue. Consumers interested in accessing non-local Netflix services will need to choose a VPN service carefully. This guide has tried to clarify the technical issues surrounding geographic restrictions and detail some of the best VPN services available. However, the playing field is constantly changing, so consumers need to stay updated and informed.