If you’re having trouble watching HBO Max with your VPN, don’t panic. There’s a very simple workaround. In this article, we outline the reasons why you’re having trouble watching HBO Max outside the US (with your VPN) and give you the simple steps you need to fix that.
HBO Max detecting VPN: Quick guide
Time needed: 3 minutes.
If you just want a quick fix, and don’t want to learn why HBO Max might not be working with your VPN, follow these steps.
- Delete your cookies
Cookies (sometimes) store information that websites use to determine your location. If HBO Max not working with your VPN is a one-off, deleting your cookies is the first thing you should try.
- Connect to a different server (in the USA)
HBO blocks IP addresses, not VPNs. If deleting cookies didn’t work, then connecting to a different server in the US, with a different IP address, is the next thing you should try.
- Upgrade your VPN
If steps 1 and 2 don’t work it means HBO Max has managed to blacklist all of your current VPN’s server IP addresses. If this is the case, then you only have one option left: you need to upgrade your VPN.
I recommend upgrading to ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) if you can afford it, or Private Internet Access ($2.85/month) if you want to spend a bit less. Both offer 30-day money work with HBO Max and are industry-leaders at unblocking streaming services.
Why has HBO Max stopped working with my VPN?
If you’re VPN has suddenly stopped working with HBO Max, it means that the VPN server and IP address you normally use has been blacklisted by HBO Max (we explain how this happens below). The easiest (and best) workaround you can try is to connect to simply switch servers and try to connect via another one – but below are also some things to try with your current VPN (these are not guaranteed to work though).
Note: If you’re using one of the lower-end VPNs – IPVanish, TunnelBear, HotSpot Shield, Buffered, etc – there’s a strong chance that all of the US server IPs have been blacklisted by HBO Max.
How does HBO Max detect and blacklist VPNs?
Since 2016, online streaming services – Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc -starting actively detecting and blacklisting VPNs.
The way streamers detect and blacklist VPN IP addresses is pretty simple. It’s basically a numbers game.
A normal IP represents a standard residential internet connection. Which means there’s likely to be between 1-8 users connected to the internet at any given time. Which creates the potential for up to nine simultaneous connections to HBO Max (for example). This would be deemed and acceptable.
A VPN Server’s IP address is more likely to be abnormal. This is because there are potentially hundreds/thousands of users connecting to the internet through it. When an abnormal number (8+) of users connect to HBO Max at the same time via the same VPN IP, it gets blacklisted.
It’s as simple as that.
There are a few things you can try if your existing VPN isn’t working with HBO Max:
- Clear cookies
- Start a Live Chat via your VPN’s website and ask if it has specific HBO server
- Switch to a laptop or desktop PC (VPNs perform best on these platforms)
If the above doesn’t work you’re left with no option but to change your VPN provider. I recommend going with ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) because it’s the best service on the mark by a long way. However, if you want to save a few dollars each month, any of the other VPN featured below will get the job done too.
- ExpressVPN ($6.66/month)
- Private Internet Access ($2.85/month)
- Ivacy ($1.16/month)
- NordVPN ($3.49/month)
All four of these VPN-providers are excellent at keeping their Servers and IPs open to all of the major online streaming services. Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon, HBO Max. It supports them all.
The reason for this is twofold. First, they all keep the number of users connected to its server below the blacklisting threshold. NordVPN has 2,000 servers in the US – which makes the job a lot easier.
More importantly, these VPNs play a game of Cat and Mouse with online streamers. The rules are easy. When one of the VPN’s IP addresses is blocked, they react by shutting it down and replacing it with a fresh (unblacklisted) IP address. Simple, but also, really effective.
What’s the Best VPN for HBO Max?
The BEST VPN of 2020!
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
ExpressVPN is the best VPN you can buy. If you can afford the extra few pounds/dollars a month, you won’t regret it.
The first thing you need to know about this VPN is that it’s fast. Really fast! It consistently tops our independent VPN speed tests, with blazingly fast download/upload speeds.
And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video etc.
ExpressVPN is the best VPN on the market at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites. Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites.
Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered.
The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently.
With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevent its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.
ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than the other VPNs. But if you want the most reliable VPN on the market, there’s only one choice. ExpressVPN is the best.
The BEST mid-range VPN for streaming!
Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speeds: >75% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 70 in 48 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
Private Internet Access is one of the leading no-log VPN services with over 1 million paying customers.
This VPN is one of the best in the industry at beating streaming sites’ VPN bans. It provides reliable connections with US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+ Amazon Prime Video, etc. It also allows 10 simultaneous devices to be connected to its servers at the same time, so you can share the account with your close friends.
If, for whatever reason, you’re not happy with Private Internet Access, there’s a 24/7 live chat support available to assist you with your problem. PIA also offers the industry-standard 30-days money-back guarantee.
From my tests (from New Zealand) I was able to get download speeds of 70 Mbps while connected to a UK server using the Private Internet Access VPN (my non-VPN speed is 100 Mbps).
The BEST low-cost VPN
Number of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option.
This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease.
The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer.
For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.
7-DAY TRIAL – $0.99
(30-day money-back guarantee)
A solid all-round VPN option!
Number of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And its easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers.
It’s pretty reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. – but its record isn’t perfect. NordVPN claims that’s all changed now as a result of hiring full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services) and aggressive investment in its network of IP addresses in key locations.
Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunnelling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.
Number of servers: 6,000+ | Speeds: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 200 in 90 countries | Devices supported: 7 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes
CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well.
From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed.
That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either.
Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.
List of VPNs Blacklisted by HBO Max
All VPNs are technically blacklisted by HBO Max. However, the good ones – like ExpressVPN, Private Internet Access, Ivacy and NordVPN – have workarounds in place. The VPNs that don’t will remain blacklisted. From our tests, the following VPNs are currently blacklisted by HBO Max and do not have reliable workarounds in place.
- HotSpot Shield