Using a VPN is a great way to unlock a lot more content on Netflix. The only issue is that not all VPNs are the same. In this article, we’ll tell you which VPNs work with Netflix in January 2021.
Before mid-2016 Netflix customers could use any VPN to virtually circumnavigate the globe and unlock all the different Netflix libraries along the way. However, those days are over. Netflix has cracked down on customer’s using VPNs to unlock other nation’s libraries.
Why does Netflix block VPNs?
Netflix is pretty unique. It has a worldwide user base and it serves content to them based on their current location – not where their payments come from. This means a Netflix subscriber in the UK could visit the USA on holiday and while they’re in the States they’ll only be able to watch US library.
The problem is that Netflix’s customers all pay (roughly) the same monthly subscription, regardless of where they are in the world. The amount paid is not reflected in library size or quality. The anomaly, in fact, is that US Netflix customers enjoy the lowest monthly fees and have the biggest content library.
This drives people to VPNs in-order to access better libraries. However, Netflix has different library sizes for a reason: it has to license its content on a country-by-country basis. Let’s use the show Friends as an example. The amount Netflix plays Warner Brothers to add Friends to the US library will be a lot higher than the fee it pays to add the same show to a library where there fewer subscribers.
Netflix can afford to add more shows and films to the American library because it has more customers there. Which means more buying power. Netflix needs to block VPNs and protect its borders to maintain this country-specific model. If Netflix can’t satisfy Warner Brothers (et al) that only American eyeballs are watching the American library it will have to start buying global licenses for content. Which will be a lot more expensive.
The result is the situation we have now. Netflix aggressively blocking VPNs.
Does Netflix ban customers who use VPNs?
No. There are many legitimate reasons a user might be connecting to Netflix using a VPN. Netflix knows this. Plus, Netflix wants next month’s subscription payment from all its users. The only thing customers will experience when connecting from a blacklisted VPN IP is an error message pop-up on screen, saying “Proxy detected”. And the content won’t play. That’s it.
Can you still access different Netflix libraries with VPNs?
Yes. All you need to do is use the right VPN. So make sure you do your research. All the VPNs recommended below have been tested and verified.
Anecdotally, I paid for a two-year subscription to IPVanish back in October 2017. The very next month they removed Netflix-support from its feature lists. The moral? Do your research. And don’t get sucked in.
Which VPNs work with Netflix in
The fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2022Number 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 still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video etc. ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites (apart from BBC iPlayer). 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.
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A very quick and trustworthy VPNNumber 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 the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing 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.
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The great low-cost VPN optionNumber 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.
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5. CyberGhostNumber 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.
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How does Netflix detect and block VPNs?
Imagine a typical household’s IP address (internet connection). It has 1-6 users and of those users, and you can expect 2-3 of them will be connected to Netflix at any given time. In extreme circumstances maybe all six users would be connected to Netflix.
Now imagine a VPN servers IP address. It can have (potentially) thousands of users. And if/when the number of these users connecting to Netflix becomes abnormally large, it will get detected by Netflix’s servers. And blacklisted.
It’s as simple as that.
What are VPNs doing to combat this?
VPNs are playing a long-term game of Cat and Mouse with Netflix. When one of its virtual servers get blacklisted, it closes it and opens a new one. This is the single most important feature in fighting Netflix’s VPN bans. A VPN-provider that is fast to recognise when it’s IPs have been blacklisted and open new IPs is the best attribute you can look for.
VPNs are secure by nature. They use military-grade AES-256 encryption, which makes it near-impossible for services like Netflix to track where the connection is actually coming from.
Next on the list is WebRTC. This is a system that web browsers use to verify your real IP address. It was originally designed to cut third-party servers when two browsers wanted to connect with each other (think Skype). The problem with WebRTC is that your data is now also being shared with a lot of Online services – Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube etc. Which means your real IP is still traceable if you’re using a VPN that doesn’t offer leak-proof WebRTC protection.
All good VPNs will reroute your device through their own DNS system. This is another step that prevents traceability of your true location and is key for watching another nation’s Netflix library. DNS forwarding is now a pretty standard feature of high-end VPNs.