When it comes to online entertainment, streaming is king. And the most popular streaming service by far is Netflix. Netflix has an estimated 203.67 million paid subscribers across the globe. It offers its users a huge amount of content, including the latest TV shows and the hottest movies, documentaries, anime, and more. However, although the Netflix library is huge, the selection of the content you can access differs greatly depending on where in the world you are accessing the services from. Strict copyright agreements mean that a Netflix user in the USA will have a different set of content options to choose from compared to a Netflix user in Germany or the United Kingdom.
While this arrangement is fine for most people, what happens if you are a frequent traveller, or you have relocated overseas, or you are on vacation? How can you watch your favourite Netflix shows if you are in a different country? The solution to the problem is to use a Virtual Private Network, also known as a VPN. In this article, we will give you all the information you need on what a VPN is, how they work, what choices of VPN are out there, and how you can use a VPN to catch up with all the latest streaming entertainment no matter where you are.
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Table of Contents
What is a VPN?
If you are thinking of using a VPN, the first thing you need to know is what a VPN is and how it works. People use VPNs to create a highly secure internet connection with networks across the globe. Using a VPN will upgrade your security and privacy when using the internet. When you are connected to a VPN, it is much harder for websites, government agencies, or hackers to track or monitor your activity.
So how do they work? Basically, a VPN moves your internet connection from your home country to a network of encrypted servers across the world. By bouncing your connection from your physical location to another location, VPNs obscure your IP (Internet Protocol) address. Doing so means that your internet activity cannot be traced back to you. VPNs were originally designed purely for business use, but have now become standard for private users due to the enhanced security they offer users.
Let’s say you are connecting to a VPN from your home in California. The VPN server could be situated anywhere in the world, let’s say Norway, just for fun. So now if anyone is monitoring your internet use, it will appear as if you are in Norway, and not California. Some VPNs will bounce your connection through multiple servers, giving you added layers of protection.
By using this system, VPNs can allow you to bypass geographical restrictions placed on streaming content. They are also useful if you are accessing the internet using unsecured or public Wi-Fi connections. It has been estimated that approximately 26% of internet users use a VPN to access online content.
How you can use a VPN to watch Netflix
Using a VPN to access your favourite Netflix shows is simple. It is actually more difficult to choose a VPN, but we’ll go into that process next. For now, we’ll assume you have chosen the VPN you want to use. Firstly, you will need to go to the VPN website and sign up for the service. You may have to provide personal information and your banking details.
Next, you will need to download all the necessary software to get the VPN on your chosen device. Fire up your VPN and make sure you choose a network in the relevant country. If you are in the UK and want to watch Netflix content that is only available in the USA, you will need to choose a network in the USA. Launch Netflix and start watching. If you encounter any issues, you may need to clear your cache or change IPv6 or DNS settings. Your VPN’s customer service department should be able to quickly sort out any issues you are having. Simple!
What to look for when choosing a VPN to watch Netflix
VPNs are not created equally. They won’t all have the same degree of speed or security. You need to be well-informed of how the VPN you have in mind works before making a choice. There are literally hundreds of VPNs available online, many of them for free. But don’t be fooled by ‘too good to be true offers. Many free VPNs are unreliable, and some are outright scams.
If your intent is to use your VPN to watch Netflix, the first thing you need to do is make certain your chosen VPN has not been blocked by Netflix. Make sure your VPN’s software is compatible with your device and that it offers you the best encryption levels. A VPN with 256-bit AES encryption is always the best option.
VPNs also offer other features such as a Kill Switch or leak protection. A Kill Switch will stop all internet traffic if your VPN is interrupted. Leak protection stops your IP address from being leaked by browser extensions or software installed on your device. These features increase your protection while using the VPN.
Look for a VPN with a ‘no logs’ policy. This means that the VPN will not log any of your activity while you are connected to it. Lastly, you should try to use a VPN that has fast speeds. It is true that VPNs can slow your internet connection down, so choosing a high-speed VPN will ensure you always have smooth streaming without buffering or lags.
What VPNs can I use to watch Netflix?
Not all VPNs can be used to access Netflix content. Netflix also periodically upgrades its software to block VPNs. Users need to keep in mind that Netflix and the VPN providers are constantly at loggerheads. Despite this ongoing battle, we have selected five of the best VPNs you can use to access Netflix.
NordVPN is one of the most popular VPNs with a massive network of more than 5,500 servers in over 60 countries. It is renowned for its speed and its ability to provide reliable access to Netflix libraries. If NordVPN can’t unblock the Netflix version you are looking for it will automatically redirect you to the US Netflix site. NordVPN provides users with top-notch security. It features a double encryption option, automatic kill switch, 256-bit encryption, and has a zero logs policy. The NordVPN Cyber Sec app can also be used to stop unwanted advertising, trackers, and malware. NordVPN is affordable and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. Server connection times can be longer than for other VPNs, but that’s really a minor consideration.
When you want to unblock Netflix for the whole family, Surfshark VPN is the way to go. Despite not having a huge array of servers — it has only 1,700 servers throughout 63 countries — Surfshark VPN still offers fast speeds that provide crystal clear HD streaming. The big plus of using Surfshark VPN though is the fact that users can connect to this VPN using any number of devices. Most VPNs will limit the number of devices that can be connected at one time, but not Surfshark VPN. This makes it a great choice for families or large groups.
Surfshark VPN is no slouch in the security department either, with 256-bit encryption and a zero logs policy. Additional features such as Camouflage Mode and NoBorders Mode provide extra protection and allow you to use the VPN in restricted regions. There is also a MultiHop setting that will bounce your connection via multiple servers. Occasionally users may experience slow speeds and there have been reports of less than stellar customer service, but they seem to be the only downsides to Surfshark VPN.
ExpressVPN is simple to use, incredibly fast, and even has a dedicated Netflix page. It provides users with access to server locations that have been proven to be able to reliably unblock Netflix libraries. Users should note that these locations can change, so it’s recommended to ask customer support for the best option. ExpressVPN uses patented TrustedServer technology that ensures all its servers have up-to-date software. Security is not a concern since ExpressVPN has military-grade 256-bit encryption and provides a zero-logs policy. As an added bonus, the MediaStreamer smart DNS proxy can be used to watch Netflix on devices that don’t support VPNs, like the PS4, Apple TV, and Xbox One. ExpressVPN is a little on the pricey side and lacks some advanced configuration options, but it is still a solid choice.
If you are not all that confident with your ability to use a VPN, then CyberGhost VPN is a great choice. Newbies love CyberGhost VPN because it is easy and fast to set up, and has a simple interface. What makes this VPN a good pick is that it lists its servers not just by their physical location, but also by what they can unblock. So new users can easily see at a glance if their chosen connection can actually do what they want it to do. Additionally, users can rate any individual server with a thumbs up or thumbs down. If you click on a server, and it doesn’t unblock Netflix, give it a big thumbs down!
CyberGhost VPN has approximately 6,400 servers spread across 89 countries. It uses the industry-standard 256-bit encryption, has a no-logs policy, and features an automatic kill switch. Users should note that at the time of writing, CyberGhost VPN will not work when being accessed in China. It is also more expensive than other VPNs but does offer a 45-day money-back guarantee.
For top-level security, it is hard to go past Swiss-based ProtonVPN. ProtonVPN was originally created by a group of scientists to provide activists and journalists with protection from hostile states around the world. The same group is responsible for developing the popular ProtonMail end-to-end encryption service. ProtonVPN boasts 1,061 servers spread across 54 countries and uses top-level AES-256 encryption. Users can choose to enable ProtonVPN’s Secure Core feature, which will bounce your VPN connection via multiple servers for extra security and privacy.
Connection speeds will depend on the plan that you have chosen, with the Basic plan being faster than the Free version and Plus being faster than Basic. It must be pointed out that if you want to watch Netflix using ProtonVPN, then you will have to go for the Plus plan option. ProtonVPN does provide high-quality HD streaming if you opt for this plan. ProtonVPN is not the cheapest option out there, but some users may be willing to pay for its enhanced security features. It should also be noted that users have had some difficulty in accessing Netflix with ProtonVPN. Dropouts and slow connections have been reported.
Frequently asked questions about watching Netflix with a VPN
Which VPNs will not work with Netflix?
It must be said that the majority of VPNs will not work with Netflix. Netflix is continually updating its software to block VPNs, and many smaller VPN companies simply cannot keep up. The options we have listed in this article are, at the time of writing, able to be used to access Netflix. We still must recommend that users check for themselves before signing up for any VPN plans as the situation between VPNs and Netflix changes constantly.
Why does Netflix block VPNs?
Netflix blocks users from accessing content via a VPN because of the copyright agreements Netflix has with content creators. If a country does not have the rights to stream a certain movie or television show, then Netflix cannot give you access to that show while you are in that particular country. Unfortunately, Netflix does not make any distinctions between people who live in a certain country and those who are visiting or have relocated there temporarily.
Is it legal to use a VPN to watch Netflix outside the USA?
VPN use is completely legal in the majority of countries throughout the world. More than 95% of countries allow the use of a VPN. Users need to exercise care, however, since VPNs are illegal or restricted in China, Russia, Belarus, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. As yet, no international visitors have reported any consequences arising from using a VPN in these countries. Despite this, we must recommend not using a VPN in these places and being extremely cautious if you choose to do so. Although Netflix looks down on VPN use and uses aggressive methods to actively block VPNs, it is not technically illegal to watch Netflix using a VPN.
Can Netflix tell if I am using a VPN?
Sometimes Netflix can see that you are using a VPN to access the content. Netflix’s software will check your IP address against a list of known VPN servers. If they match, Netflix will log you as a VPN user, and you will be blocked. This is why many of the most reliable VPNs regularly update and change their VPN addresses. This keeps them one step ahead of Netflix’s software.
Can I watch Netflix via a VPN on my Phone?
Yes, generally you can watch Netflix via a VPN on your mobile device. Most reputable VPN services offer a desktop and a mobile app. It is a simple process to install a VPN on your phone and watch what you want, wherever you are! Users need to check that the VPN plan they are on allows for multiple device connections and how many devices you can connect simultaneously.
Which country has the biggest Netflix content library?
Netflix doesn’t make public the breakdown of exactly what is available in each country’s library of content. So, it is hard to accurately gauge which country has the biggest range of content available. Many users state that the US Netflix service has the largest range of available titles. However, according to the website Statista, as of January 2021, Ireland has the biggest library with 6,379 titles available. Ireland is followed by Malaysia with 6,361, Indonesia with 6,264 and the Philippines which has 6,192 available titles. Users need to bear in mind though, that many of these titles will be local content.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Evan Stockton - Author
Evan Stockton is the proud publisher and founder of Securifer.com where he mainly manages publishing, editing and fact-checking. Evan is an expert Cybersecurity-researcher, and has written many articles for several large IT-centered publications.