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ExpressVPN

From our test, we found that ExpressVPN works well with Netflix, with the ease of setup being among one of the simplest based on our comparison. There are only 3 steps to follow when getting your Netflix setup installed and streaming. First things first: setup an ExpressVPN account so that you can download and install the ExpressVPN client. ExpressVPN is available on Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, and Apple iOS, Android, Apple TV, and Fire TV Stick. This makes it a very comprehensive service with a wide range of platforms support.

ExpressVPN offers the option to have 3 devices connected simultaneously on one account, which should be more than enough to keep your family satisfied. All of the US servers seem to work great, and the speeds that were achieved were all quite similar. Ideally, you will want to select the US server that is closest to your current location, but in practice this does not always guarantee the fastest connection. Luckily, it is easy to change servers to another location, so experiment with different ones to see which works best for you.

The general speed requirements for Netflix are: 500kbps for medium quality, 1500kbps for normal quality (360p), 3000 kbps for SD quality (480p), 5000 kbps for HD quality (720p), and 25000 kbps for Ultra HD quality. ExpressVPN has a built-in speed test that will help you to determine what your connection speeds are to each of the different US Netflix servers. You can then tell which server is going to be the best choice for your viewing pleasure. ExpressVPN currently has 9 different US servers situated on both the East and West Coasts of the US.

ExpressVPN takes your security seriously, and as such, they do not log or record any browsing history or DNS queries from your connection. This means that in the event of a data breach or any other security incident at ExpressVPN, then there are no records of your online activities for third parties take steal.

If you run into any issues along the way, ExpressVPN offers 24/7 technical support via chat and email, and they are able to assist you with any connection issues that you may have with your VPN connection to one of their servers. ExpressVPN offers the following VPN protocols: OpenVPN with UDP, OpenVPN with TCP, SSTP, L2TP/IPSec and PPTP, making it highly versatile and capable.

Read ExpressVPN review »

NordVPN

NordVPN was tested for US Netflix, and the good news is that yes, it really does work. NordVPN has a huge presence in the US, with nearly 1200 servers dotted around the map for your convenience and viewing pleasure. If you are curious about which USA server is best for you, Nord will make a suggestion for you based on your latency and internet speeds. This means that getting setup is really easy and requires no technical knowledge at all.

NordVPN takes compatibility up a notch and provides iOS and iPhone support, Android support, a Windows application, a Mac OS application, and browser plugins for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. This lets users connect to the NordVPN service via a web browser for added convenience and ease. NordVPN is aware of Netflix’s ever-changing attempts to cut out VPN services, and as a result, they have resources that are updated whenever a major change occurs with Netflix connectivity. NordVPN has more resources online on their website relating to Netflix, with this handy guide for accessing hidden movie categories especially interesting.

NordVPN does not restrict their users with speed limits, but there is an unavoidable slow down in general when any VPN service is used. This is because the data that is being transferred usually has to take a much longer route to get back to your device that you are connected from. NordVPN has some suggestions to increase your internet speed if you are having issues with buffering and load speeds.

NordVPN allows their users to connect with 6 devices at once on a single account, giving it a lot of appeal for households where nobody can agree on a single show or movie genre to all watch together. The only snag is that only a single protocol type can be used at a time. This means that each device must be configured to connect to a different protocol. Luckily, this isn’t difficult to do, but it does add a layer of complexity to your setup if you are hoping to cater to more than one person’s connection to Netflix at a time.

Read NordVPN review »

VyprVPN

VyprVPN is another service that still works with US Netflix. Many users have found that their existing VPN solution no longer connects properly to US Netflix since the service decided to manually lock their DNS servers. This thwarts attempts made by viewers from outside the country to watch their favorite US Netflix shows. VyprVPN suggests that users try each of their 8 US-based servers until you find one that works.

VyprVPN offers unthrottled and uncapped access to their VPN servers, so you know that your viewing sessions will never be cut short or limited.

No records are kept about users’ browsing habits, and other products are also available such as DNS services that do not sensor or block websites. Protocols that are used with this product are PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, OpenVPN, and their own premium service Chameleon, which is based on an unmodified OpenVPN implementation complete with a 256-bit cypher that is only available to Premium subscriber members. Apps are available for all popular platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows and Mac OS, which will cover most people’s device needs when wanting to securely connect to US Netflix via a VPN connection.

VyprVPN allows users to connect one mobile device and one PC device at the same time on a standard account, while a premium account will let users connect with 5 devices simultaneously. This is more in line with some of the other services presently on offer in the VPN market.

Read VyprVPN review »

CyberGhost

CyberGhost has over 40,000 active connected to over 1,000 VPN servers globally. For US Netflix, we only care about one though: the total US-based VPN servers. The total sits at 231, and the service works very well with US Netflix. GhostVPN shows you in real-time via their webpage how many users are currently active per server. So if you are setting up your connection manually, you can select the right server for you with the least traffic.

Setting up the GhostVPN software is very easy, and you will be connected to your preferred US-based server in no time, allowing you to enjoy premium US Netflix content in no time at all. Users are not tracked, and no logging data is saved, making it an anonymous VPN service. CyberGhost have divided their platform into 6 different profiles, making it even easier for non-technical users to connect to the right service for the application that they intend on using.

All major Netflix platforms are supported, namely Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS, and you can simultaneously connect 5 devices on one account for added convenience and security. Your security is greatly enhanced with a 256-bit AES cypher, making your communications secure and encrypted to everyone except you. CyberGhost comes with an automatic kill-switch, which kills your browsing if your VPN connection goes down due to a technical issue. This helps to keep your identity hidden by removing you from the internet entirely until the secure VPN is back up and running again.

Other security features to keep you safe are DNS and IP Leak Protection, and the protocols used are OpenVPN, L2TP-IPSec and PPTP.

Read CyberGhost review »

VPNs for Netflix

Our top VPN recommendations to use with Netflix are ExpressVPN, NordVPN, VyprVPN, CyberGhost, and PureVPN. Setup is relatively straightforward for each so you can get started right away. We will be looking at these selections in closer detail below, and we’ll show you some other features you get with each VPN.

VPNs that currently don’t work with Netflix

With Netflix aggressively going after VPNs, a lot of VPNs have had their services blocked with regards to Netflix – meaning that if you try and connect to a Netflix library different to the country you are actually residing in, you’ll get an error message saying that the content can’t be accessed. Here are a few VPNs that don’t work with Netflix. We were using Windows 10 for this test, but the general experience translates to other platforms as well. This is because the routing of the VPN traffic is done on the back end of the network, so the OS that you are using should not affect the outcome of the testing.

Hide.me is a great VPN that offers a free plan for users to try out, as well as premium plans as well. They have a zero log policy, which is excellent. But the issue that they are facing, like so many other VPN providers, is that Netflix is actively making their service for non-residents of the USA more difficult to access, and we were unable to get it to work with US Netflix. Our experience is a familiar one though. Bear in mind that this was attempted with a free account; your experience may be different with the premium version, however.

Additional brands that don’t work with Netflix: TunnelBear, Ivacy, PureVPN, Avast Secureline VPN, CactusVPN

Netflix and VPNs: An Arms Race

In January of 2018, Netflix began the year with an announcement that it would soon start blocking VPNs as part of its global strategy to garner more subscribers, but on a region-by-region based content distribution. This means that they no longer want users connecting to their service via VPN, as they have other offerings for specific countries.

This has resulted in discontent from many Netflix users around the world, with online petitions, forums, and other social initiatives starting to take hold in a campaign that has risen out of the discontent of paying customers.

Why does Netflix block VPNs?

This is a good question, and one that many paying customers have trouble understanding. The main crux of the matter leads back to the fact that Netflix, as a relatively new player in Hollywood and movie circles, is trying to show the established movie studios and executives that they take their licensing models very seriously, and they hardly want to rock the boat any more than they already have.

How does Netflix block VPNs?

Netflix is said to employ a wide array of countermeasures to thwart the attempts of TV and movie lovers to gain access to their favorite shows and content, but the following four methods are the most likely way it blocks VPNs:

1. VPN Blacklisting

Most VPNs are issued with a specific range of IP addresses, and these are provisioned to their servers, and in some cases, to specific customers. Over time, as it becomes apparent that the IP addresses belong to specific VPN companies, Netflix blacklists these on the backend system, preventing any access from that particular range of IP addresses.

2. Group IP Blocking

If Netflix and their network engineers detect multiple accounts connecting from the same IP address, they are likely to suspect the work of a VPN service. This IP is then blocked, and all of the users that were catching content through the same tunnel will have the Netflix door shut firmly in their faces.

3. DNS Unblocker Blacklisting

Netflix originally sought to prevent unauthorized regions from connecting to their services by means of a DNS hardcode that was introduced a few years back. Initially, this meant that people using proxies were suddenly unable to connect to the service, which forced them to use VPNs as a way around.

4. Billing Analysis

This is probably the least technical approach, and as such could actually affect legitimate US residents that have international credit cards with international addresses. The theory is that Netflix would do what Apple has done in the past: check that he billing address and information matches with the US account that they are logging in from. If not, then disconnecting this account from that server, and placing it onto the origin of billing would help Netflix to prevent unauthorized viewing from occurring.

How do the VPNs that still work with Netflix manage it?

The VPN companies that still manage to provide VPN services for their subscribers are able to do this by throwing money at the problem. They simply grow their operations continuously by provisioning more servers in different US-based locations, with an ever expanding pool of IP addresses. This is not a game that can be played forever though, as the subscriber base will eventually either flatten out, allowing Netflix to finish blocking all of the new IP addresses, or another, more broad blocking tool will be implemented by Netflix, making the whole exercise redundant.

Using Netflix VPN on Browser, Mobile & Router

One of the most popular techniques at present is to watch Netflix directly from an internet browser, with a VPN plugin running in the background. Although this only offers a single device the opportunity to connect to US Netflix, it is a good way to connect to the service without having to install an additional application.

Another form of video entertainment devices that have risen in popularity in recent years are the Android TV devices that have sprung up, but VPN support is lacking in most instances, with many users online experiencing compatibility issues and degraded performance. Even those that wish to use browser plugins are met with disappointment, as there are not many that work as advertised on these boxes.

A far better alternative is to look at installing a VPN service on your router and having all of your traffic pass through into your VPN service. Some routers will let you split this traffic, so you can tag specific devices that need to have VPN access, instead of sending out all of your data onto the VPN connection. The options are there if you put a little bit of time researching and then configuring your home environment.

ExpressVPN offers a really easy way to install their service onto your router, and many other providers do the same. The only caveat is that you need to use the routers that are supported by your provider, since not all are compatible. Some newer routers have apps that can be installed directly onto the router’s OS, which is a great way to get setup quickly. You can follow ExpressVPN’s router installation guide here.

There are positives and negatives to using the VPN approach. For starters, it means that all traffic connected to that particular router is going to go onto the VPN, and not all of your services might need to utilize such a connection – especially if you are wanting to use local services like internet banking and other financial institutions, where geographic locale is of major importance.

3 examples of routers that are VPN-capable:

Once you have decided if this approach is the right one for your setup, you can start researching how to setup multiple SSID and Wifi routing for your home setup, making a wireless network for VPN traffic and another one for regular traffic. This can be challenging, but the end results are rewarding.

What To Look For In a Netflix VPN?

Merely having support for US-based Netflix content is not always enough to differentiate VPN services from one another. Sometimes additional features will need to sweeten the deal to coax you over to a specific provider. Some of these valuable traits are:

  • High Speed: Connecting to Netflix is one thing, but actually being able to watch the shows that you feel like watching in acceptable quality is another story altogether. Imagine spending all of your hard earned money on a 4K TV, only to discover that the new season of your favorite show can only connect at poor speeds, making the video quality plummet, or worse, buffer and pause as it struggles to play. For this reason, you need to try out a VPN service provider ahead of time before you commit, so you will know what to expect from your US Netflix streaming experience.
  • Server Location: Users must keep in mind that having just a few US-based VPN servers is probably not going to be a workable solution going forward, as Netflix is in the process of actively banning IP address ranges from known VPN providers. Instead, choose a provider with as many US VPN servers as possible, so you can hop to the next servers as they stop working (assuming that this approach works in the first place; there are no guarantees).
  • Unlimited Bandwidth: It doesn’t matter if you have an excellent internet connection at home if your VPN provider has restricted bandwidth policies in place. This will create a bottleneck in the connection, and your connection to that VPN will only be as fast as the limitation that has been imposed on your connection.
  • Privacy/Security: The VPN provider that you choose should not be keeping records of what you are looking at on the internet, as privacy is one of the main benefits of using a VPN in the first place. If your provider cannot assure you that they have a zero logging policy or something similar, then you are not fully protected. Your VPN provider could be hacked, and your information, including your browsing history could be stolen and used in cyber crime.
  • Encryption/Protocols: The level of encryption that your VPN provider uses will determine how likely your communications can be intercepted and monitored. The higher the encryption level, the safer you will be. The gold standard at present is 256-bit AES encryption, so check with your provider to find out if you are fully protected. Protocols will determine how your connection and what popular program types can be used, such as video streaming, peer-to-peer file sharing, etc. Each VPN protocol has its pros and cons, so find out ahead of time before you sign up to avoid disappointment.
  • Kill Switch: Your provider should also have some kind of kill switch functionality in place if you are to be fully protected. What a kill does is detect your connection to a VPN, and then if the connection is lost, all traffic is stopped until the connection is restored. This is done to prevent your public IP from connecting to the same service that you were connected to via VPN, thus revealing your identity and opening you up to security risks.

Netflix and Smart Proxy Ban

This is a method that is used by Netflix to prevent users from connecting to their service from areas outside of the agreed licensing areas. For this reason, Netflix took steps to detect the use of such services and then ban users from connecting. This resulted in users seeking an alternative to connect to the service, and using a VPN allowed users to bypass this limitation completely.

Can You Use a Free VPN to Watch Netflix?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as some free VPN services could in theory still work with Netflix, but the window of opportunity for such services is closing. Free VPN services also have the potential to open their users up to other security vulnerabilities. The fact that the service is free means that they need to make revenue somehow to keep the service running, and they could be profiting from you via targeted advertising.

In addition, free VPN services are also notoriously throttled, limited, and shaped, meaning that any streaming service that you do eventually manage to connect to will offer you a sub optimal streaming experience to begin with. It is always advisable that you pay for your VPN service, as you will then have recourse if you run into privacy and security issues. Because so many people would have already tried to connect to US Netflix, the likelihood that their IP address range has already been blocked by Netflix is highly probable.

Reddit as a Source for Netflix VPNs

In 2018, Reddit should need no introduction to people of the internet. If you have not heard of the service, it is a text-based website that offers insightful information from people within specific areas of interest, which gives it an authentic, real world application and usefulness. Posts are ranked by the community, and useful ones are elevated to the top of the pile, while irrelevant ones are relegated to the bottom, unlikely to be read. It is in these Reddit posts that users can glean nuggets of wisdom from knowledgeable and experienced VPN users, giving away their experience and insights for nothing.

The only real drawback to this format is that it requires a lot of reading and research, but with perseverance and determination, you will learn about the most recent and up to date developments in the VPN world and how the US Netflix services are currently being affected. It is also a good place to get inside information about the best VPN services being offered currently that still work well with Netflix.

Netflix VPN FAQs

Does Netflix know if I use a VPN?

It depends on which service you are using. If you are using a free VPN, or one that has been targeted directly by Netflix, then yes, it will be able to tell that you are using a VPN

Will Netflix cancel my subscription if I use a VPN?

Instances where this has happened are very rare and are usually not a result of merely using a VPN but rather if a user is engaging in any illegal activities as well as using a VPN. Netflix has not been known to ban users for connecting via VPN, as there are legitimate reasons to do so, even if the VPN server is located in the same country that the user is in.

Is it illegal to use a VPN with Netflix?

While this may violate the Netflix terms of use, the act of connecting to Netflix via VPN in itself is not illegal.

What does Reddit have to say about using a VPN for Netflix?

The general attitude towards VPNs on Netflix is one of support, and there are vast resources available to help new VPN users to get them started.

What is the average rate per month for a VPN?

The average pricing for a VPN ranges anywhere from $8 – $15 a month and $2 – $8 dollars per month for an annual or biannual agreement.

Conclusion

Many believe that it’s unfortunate that Netflix has had to take the approach of banning some VPNs, but the legalities that they need to adhere to were put in place by the entertainment industry, so their hands are tied. Netflix offers a rich library of content that is protected under licensing agreements, so it makes sense that they would target VPNs that try to get around these agreements. Using a VPN for privacy and security online is a great use for a VPN, but be sure not to access unlicensed content.

Written by: Graeme Messina

Graeme is an IT professional with a special interest in computer forensics, security, and software. When not building networks and researching the latest software trends, he enjoys writing technical articles and blog posts.

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