Surfshark not working with Max

If you’ve been using Surfshark to watch Max outside the US and it’s stopped working, it’s most likely because HBO has managed to block the IP address Surfshark has given you.

This has happened because HBO is constantly trying to block IP addresses provided by VPNs. In order for a VPN to stay one step ahead of these blocks they need to implement measures to win this cat and mouse game. Surfshark either doesn’t have these sorts of measures in place, or the measures it does have are no longer working.

The good news is there are a number of potential fixes you can try to resolve this issue.

This article will explain how you can fix Surfshark not working with Max. You can also read on to the end to find out how to prevent Max not working with VPN from happening again in the future.

How to fix Surfshark not working with Max

Total Time: 5 minutes

  1. Check if your VPN works on another device

    Surfshark not working with Max

    This is the easiest thing you can do to figure out what you need to do next. If Surfshark works with Max on your smartphone, but not your computer, then you know your VPN isn’t the problem. If your VPN does work on one device, jump to Step 3 below.

  2. Contact Surfshark’s live chat service

    Surfshark not working with Max

    This is another easy one. Cycle through your VPN’s available servers. If you only have a few options available to you, go to Surfshark’s website and find the Live Chat feature (if they have one) and ask for a specific server number that works with Max.

    This is the single most effective way to diagnose if Surfshark is the problem or not. If they can’t point you towards a server that works with Max then you know, without doubt, that Surfshark is the problem.

  3. Delete your cookies

    Surfshark not working with Max

    Deleting your cookies can potentially fix Surfshark issues. Accumulated or corrupted cookies in a browser might interfere with the way websites and online services function, especially when using a VPN.

    Clearing these cookies removes any old or problematic data, thereby ensuring a cleaner slate for your VPN connection to operate. This can help in establishing a more stable connection and resolving conflicts between Surfshark and certain web services like Max.

  4. Connect to a different US server

    Surfshark not working with Max

    If Surfshark has suddenly stopped working with Max, it might be because the IP address your VPN has given you has been identified and blocked by the streaming service.

    Changing to a different US server will give you a different US IP address, and if that one hasn’t been blocked, your VPN will work with Max again.

  5. Reinstall or update Surfshark

    Surfshark not working with Max

    Think of this as the classic “turn it on and off again” tactic. Removing Surfshark, and its settings, from your device and starting again is a good way to get the most up-to-date settings configured on your devices without much effort.

    If you don’t want to reinstall the software, you can always check to see if there’s an update available to download any fixes your service may have introduced.

  6. Switch VPN protocols

    Surfshark not working with Max

    VPN protocols are the beating heart of a VPN. They determine how the VPN works. When you use a VPN the protocol is responsible for hiding your data and rerouting it via VPN servers.

    If Max isn’t working with Surfshark, it might be because the protocol you’re using is no longer working with the service.

    Surfshark offers three different protocols WireGuard, OpenVPN and IKEv2. Try changing between these to see if that fixes the issue. Take a look at our VPN protocols article to discover more about which technology might be best for you.

  7. Upgrade your VPN

    Surfshark not working with Max

    If all of the above fails, you should consider upgrading to a high-end VPN. I recommend ExpressVPN ($6.66/month) or NordVPN ($3.79/month) for Max.

    For more information, check out our VPN list below to see which VPN suits your needs and budget.

Why does Max block Surfshark?

Max (formerly known as HBO Max) may block VPNs like Surfshark for a few primary reasons, all of which are tied to licensing agreements and efforts to enforce geographical content restrictions:

  1. Licensing Agreements: Max, like other streaming services, enters into licensing agreements that allow it to show content in specific geographical locations. These agreements often prohibit the service from showing certain content outside these regions. VPNs like Surfshark allow users to circumvent these geographical restrictions, potentially putting Max in violation of its licensing agreements.
  2. Content Piracy Concerns: By enabling users to bypass geographical restrictions, VPNs can facilitate access to content in regions where Max does not have distribution rights. This can lead to concerns about content piracy, prompting Max to block VPNs to protect its content and adhere to copyright laws.
  3. Enforcing Service Policies: Max’s terms of service likely include clauses that restrict the use of technologies or methods to bypass geographical restrictions. Blocking VPNs like Surfshark is a way for Max to enforce these policies and ensure users access the service within the intended regions.

How does Max block Surfshark?

Max employs several strategies to block VPNs like Surfshark, aiming to enforce its geographic restrictions and licensing agreements. Here’s how they typically manage to detect and block VPN usage:

  1. IP Address Detection: Max maintains a list of IP addresses known to belong to VPN services, including Surfshark. Since VPNs route multiple users’ traffic through a single IP address, these IP addresses can exhibit unusual activity patterns (like a high volume of traffic coming from the same IP), making them identifiable as VPN servers.
  2. VPN Traffic Patterns: Streaming services can analyze internet traffic for patterns that are characteristic of VPN usage. Encryption methods, data packet sizes, and even the timing of data transmission can indicate VPN use. Once detected, Max can block these connections.
  3. DNS Filtering: When a device uses a VPN, but its DNS requests reveal a different geographic location than the IP address provided by the VPN, it can signal the use of a VPN. Max can use such mismatches to identify and block VPN users.
  4. Port and Protocol Blocking: VPNs use specific ports and protocols to encrypt data and establish secure connections. By monitoring for known VPN protocols and the ports they commonly use, Max can block these encrypted connections.
  5. Blacklisting VPN Data Centers: Max can also block IP ranges known to be associated with data centers that host VPN servers. Since most VPNs rent server space in these data centers, identifying and blocking these ranges can effectively prevent VPN users from accessing the service.

Does Max still work with VPNs?

Max can still be accessed with some VPNs, although the effectiveness greatly varies across different VPN services. This variance is due to the ongoing efforts by streaming platforms like Max to enforce geographic restrictions and block VPN use, countered by the sophisticated methods employed by VPN providers to bypass these restrictions.

Premium VPN providers frequently update their IP addresses to dodge blacklists maintained by streaming services. They also employ advanced obfuscation techniques that disguise VPN traffic as regular internet traffic, making it harder for streaming services to detect and block them. Some VPNs offer dedicated IP addresses, which are less likely to be identified as part of a VPN network because they are not shared among multiple users.

Additionally, certain VPNs optimise their servers specifically for streaming, ensuring high speeds and stable connections, which not only improves the streaming experience but also reduces the chances of detection.

The best VPNs for Max when Surfshark stops working

1. ExpressVPN

The fastest and most reliable VPN of 2024

  • Physical servers in 104 countries
  • Brilliant for unblocking streaming services
  • Very high-speed Lightway protocol
  • Available on almost any device
  • Very secure
  • Pricey
  • Only 8 simultaneous devices
  • No addons
ExpressVPN

Streaming: ExpressVPN stands out for its ability to bypass Max’s VPN blocks due to its proprietary Lightway protocol, which ensures fast and secure connections, along with a vast network of servers in 94 countries that are frequently updated to avoid detection.

Servers: ExpressVPN enhances access to Max with its vast array of over 3,000 servers across 104 countries, including many in the US where Max is based, ensuring robust options for bypassing geo-restrictions with high-speed connections ideal for streaming.

Privacy: ExpressVPN’s privacy measures include passing independent audits by cybersecurity firms like Cure53 and F-Secure, ensuring a strong level of security and no significant weaknesses in its macOS, Linux, and Windows apps. More details can be found in the audit reports available online.

Price: ExpressVPN offers three payment plans: a 1-month option at $12.95/month, a 6-month option at $9.99/month, and a 12-month option at $6.67/month. Payment methods include major credit cards, PayPal, Bitcoin, and other systems, accommodating a wide range of users.

Speeds: ExpressVPN maintains high download speeds with minimal drop-off, ensuring efficient performance. Tests showed a slight decrease in upload speeds, but download speeds remained fast across various server locations, including the US, UK, and Vietnam.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
VPN off937.07520.93
ExpressVPN US server824.626.96
ExpressVPN UK server794.953.70
ExpressVPN Vietnam server761.903.81

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

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2. NordVPN

An excellent, affordable, and fast VPN option for 2024

  • Affordable pricing
  • Effective streaming access
  • Diverse server types
  • Solid speeds
  • Useful add-ons
  • Strong security
  • Limited server locations
  • No virtual servers
NordVPN

Streaming: NordVPN is highly effective with Max thanks to its obfuscated servers that disguise VPN traffic as regular internet traffic and its SmartPlay technology, which automatically selects the best server for streaming.

Servers: NordVPN’s network of over 5,400 servers in 59 countries, coupled with technology like SmartPlay, is designed to seamlessly navigate around Max’s blocks, offering users a reliable streaming experience through a diverse range of server locations

Privacy: NordVPN’s secure connection and no-logs policy have been verified via three independent audits, including one by Deloitte. The audits have confirmed NordVPN’s adherence to its no-logs policy, ensuring user privacy.

Price: NordVPN offers three pricing plans: Complete, Plus, and Standard. The 2-year plan for the Standard package is priced at $3.19/month, the 1-year plan at $4.99/month, and the monthly plan at $12.99/month. It accepts major credit cards and various payment systems.

Speeds: Below is a table showing the speeds tested for NordVPN. From our tests in New Zealand, NordVPN displayed very good speeds, although slightly behind ExpressVPN, but significantly faster than many other VPNs on the market.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)937.07520.93
NordVPN US server710.906.98
NordVPN UK server531.123.73

Read our full NordVPN review.

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3. Private Internet Access

Affordable and secure VPN with wide device compatibility

  • Affordable pricing plans
  • Unlimited simultaneous devices
  • Extra features like ad blocker and email protection
  • Verified no-log policy
  • Compatible with streaming services like Netflix and Hulu
  • High use of virtual servers
  • Not as fast as top-tier VPNs
  • Lacks proprietary protocol options
PIA

Streaming: Private Internet Access (PIA) offers a large volume of servers, over 35,000 worldwide, enhancing its capability to find unblocked paths to Max, coupled with strong encryption methods that preserve user privacy while streaming.

Servers: Private Internet Access (PIA) brings to the table an impressive server count of over 35,000 globally, with a significant presence in the US, providing numerous pathways to access Max content while maintaining high privacy standards.

Privacy: PIA’s app is open-source, inviting third-party scrutiny and verification. It has also passed an independent no-log policy audit conducted by Deloitte, affirming its commitment to privacy.

Price: PIA offers three subscription options: 1-month at $11.95/month, 1-year at $3.33/month (upfront cost $39.95), and 3-year at $2.03/month (upfront fee $79). Payment methods include credit cards, PayPal, cryptocurrencies, and Amazon payments.

Speeds: Speed tests for PIA showed significant drops in download speeds across various servers. While using WireGuard protocol, speeds were faster than OpenVPN but still slower compared to top-tier VPNs like ExpressVPN.

OpenVPN Download Speeds (Mbps)OpenVPN Upload Speeds (Mbps)WireGuard Download Speeds (Mbps)WireGuard Upload Speeds (Mbps)
VPN off (New Zealand)930516
PIA US server238.527.17300.658.65
PIA UK server2453.77315.787.23
PIA Vietnam server4456.554898.24

Read our full Private Internet Access review.

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4. PureVPN

A mid-range VPN that balances performance and price

  • Affordable
  • Unblocks major streaming services
  • Use on up to 10 devices simultaneously
  • Streamlined user interface
  • No log audit verified by KPMG
  • Several free add-ons
  • Buffering on BBC iPlayer at peak times
  • Past concerns with “no log” policy
PureVPN

Streaming: PureVPN is distinguished by its streaming-optimized servers and the feature to switch between different security protocols, allowing for a tailored approach to bypassing Max’s content restrictions efficiently.

Servers: PureVPN operates with over 6,500 servers in more than 140 countries, with dedicated streaming servers that ensure smooth access to Max, optimizing connections for a buffer-free streaming experience from anywhere in the world.

Privacy: PureVPN has faced criticism in the past for its privacy policies. However, it has recently undergone a no-log audit verified by KPMG in the past 12 months, aiming to reassure users about its commitment to privacy.

Price: PureVPN offers three payment options: a 1-month plan at $10.95/month, a 1-year plan at $3.74/month, and a 2-year plan at $1.96/month. PureVPN accepts all major credit cards, PayPal, and a variety of other digital payment options.

Speeds: Below is a table that gives you an idea of the speed performance you can expect when using PureVPN. The VPN has shown variable download speeds across different streaming servers, with some experiencing significant drop-offs during peak times.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN189.44139.82
PureVPN UK Server24.3198.99
PureVPN US Server49.83106.52

Read our full PureVPN review.

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5. CyberGhost

Affordable and secure VPN with extensive server coverage

  • Features NoSpy servers, a Killswitch, and split tunnelling
  • Attractive pricing for long-term subscriptions
  • Over 9,000 servers in 91 countries
  • Independent audit confirms no-logs policy
  • 7-device coverage
  • Not optimal for streaming due to speed issues
  • Majority of servers are virtual
  • Lacks a proprietary protocol
Cyberghost

Streaming: CyberGhost provides dedicated streaming profiles for Max, ensuring users connect to servers that are specifically optimized for speed and reliability, alongside regular IP address updates to evade VPN blocks.

Servers: CyberGhost specializes in streaming with over 7,000 servers in 91 countries, offering optimized servers for Max to ensure users can enjoy their favorite shows with minimal buffering and high-quality speeds.

Privacy: CyberGhost has a no-logs policy that has been independently audited by Deloitte, ensuring user privacy and security. This audit confirms that CyberGhost does not keep records of users’ online activities while using the VPN.

Price: CyberGhost offers three payment options: a 1-month subscription at $12.99/month, a 6-month subscription at $6.99/month, and a 2-year subscription at $2.19/month, which includes an extra two months for free.

Speeds: Speed tests conducted in New Zealand showed significant drops in both download and upload speeds across various servers when using CyberGhost, indicating a performance issue in terms of speed.

Download Speeds (Mbps)Upload Speeds (Mbps)
No VPN (New Zealand)930516
CyberGhost US server192.292.63
CyberGhost UK server139.191.90
CyberGhost Vietnam server232.244.32

Read our full CyberGhost review.

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Surfshark not working with Max: FAQs

Q: Why can’t I access Max with Surfshark?

Answer: Sometimes Surfshark might not work with Max due to the streaming service identifying and blocking the IP addresses used by the VPN. Surfshark continually updates its IP addresses and employs obfuscation techniques to overcome these blocks, so trying a different server or waiting for an IP update can often resolve the issue.

Q: What should I do if Surfshark is detected by Max?

Answer: If Max detects Surfshark, you should disconnect and connect to a different server. Surfshark has a large number of servers in the US, which increases your chances of finding one that isn’t blocked. Additionally, clearing your browser’s cookies and cache can help, as these can store information about your location.

Q: Can changing protocols in Surfshark help access Max?

Answer: Yes, changing the connection protocol in Surfshark’s settings can help bypass blocks by Max. Different protocols have varying levels of encryption and speed, which can affect the VPN’s ability to unblock content. Trying options like OpenVPN or WireGuard® might improve your access.

Q: Why does Max block VPNs like Surfshark?

Answer: Max blocks VPNs to comply with licensing agreements that restrict content to certain geographic regions. By blocking VPNs, Max aims to prevent users from accessing content outside these regions. VPNs like Surfshark work to navigate these restrictions by hiding your real location.

Q: Is there a way to ensure Surfshark always works with Max?

Answer: While no VPN can guarantee 100% effectiveness due to the dynamic nature of streaming services’ VPN detection methods, using Surfshark’s obfuscation features and regularly checking for software updates can improve reliability. Surfshark’s customer support can also provide assistance and advice on the best servers to use for accessing Max.

Patch Bowen
Patch Bowen is an accomplished technology journalist with a solid academic foundation, holding a degree from Auckland University. His expertise spans across a range of tech topics, with a notable focus on product reviews, industry trends, and the impact of technology on society. With his work featured on major New Zealand websites like Stuff.co.nz, thebit.nz, and The Press, Patch has established himself as a credible voice in technology media. His articles are known for their detailed analysis and practical insights, particularly in making complex technological concepts understandable for a broad audience. At ReviewsFire, Patch is renowned for his thorough evaluations and clear, informative writing style. He has a knack for identifying and explaining the nuances of the latest gadgets and digital trends, earning him a reputation as a trusted source for tech advice and information.

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