Like most people, when you want to relax on the weekend or after a hard day at work or school, you’ll probably be firing up Netflix.
Unfortunately, if you’re based outside the US, there’s one challenge you might nevertheless have to face. You see, it’s not just Netflix you want – it’s the US Netflix library, filled with content beyond your wildest dreams. If you can just reckon with geo-blocking, you’ll have reached your goal!
A couple of years back, Netflix decided to clamp down on VPN services by banning server IPs. This was to be expected – VPNs have been and still remain the primary way of getting around their geo-blocking measures. In the beginning, many VPN providers fought back by increasing server counts, but it wasn’t too long before most came to the realization: “we can’t outlast Netflix.” However, just as any good TV show, this one has its heroes. Some VPNs remain one step ahead of Netflix and are able to give their users a reason to make that popcorn.
One such valiant VPN service is the top pick on our site – let’s see if using ExpressVPN for Netflix is a good idea!
ExpressVPN Netflix field testing
It’s no exaggeration to say that most of the better-known VPN services have had their issues with Netflix. The ones who haven’t are either doing something right or simply not big enough to draw the ire of the streaming giant. ExpressVPN is obviously not in the second category, but is it in the first? Let’s find out.
The most important criterion for determining the ExpressVPN Netflix capabilities is the reliability with which it can get users into Netflix US and other popular libraries.
For our first test, we picked several ExpressVPN US locations at varying distances from Europe and tried watching shows on Netflix. For the most part, there were no issues: of the 5 different locations we tried, 4 allowed us to stream in Ultra HD and without any interruptions or annoying bouts of buffering. Here you can see us enjoying the excellent Stranger Things in glorious detail.
As you may have gathered, 1 of the 5 locations greeted us with the ill-famed “you seem to be using a proxy” error:
Overall, this isn’t that big of a deal, because we were able to find equally-convenient locations from which Netflix worked with no obstructions.
In addition to Netflix US, we also investigated how well ExpressVPN does with other locations – Canada, Japan, Australia, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands. The results were overwhelmingly positive both in terms of access and performance, with the only worry being Japan. Of the two server locations in Japan, 1 was blocked.
If Netflix blocks the only location that works, there won’t be any way to use ExpressVPN for Netflix Japan. Of course, the company is constantly adding servers, so any issues are likely to be temporary.
If you want to stream Ultra HD or even HD video content, you’ll need a good download speed. Many around the world may have issues with that even without a VPN. Using one will significantly slow the speed down even further. On their website, Netflix have specified what the recommended download speeds are in order to stream content of a certain quality. Here are the figures:
Netflix also runs a free online speed test, so you can check how good your connection is specifically for streaming on their platforms. We wanted to see how good the ExpressVPN Netflix combo is, so we gave the speed test a try. They say numbers (if applied correctly) don’t lie!
These results are a little surprising, both in good and in bad ways. When connected to the US server, the download speed (37 Mbps) is more than enough to stream Ultra HD video. Canadian servers, on the other hand (we tried a few), gave us much lower speeds – Toronto was 22 Mbps, which is less than Netflix recommends for Ultra HD.
Unexpectedly, despite being further away from Europe, Japan was faster (33 Mbps) and Australia, although slow, was not terrible and enough for streaming in HD (9.4 Mbps).
We will not elaborate on European locations – none of the servers we tried went much lower than 50 Mbps.
Overall, the Netflix connection speed with various ExpressVPN servers is very good and not many providers can match it. The issue with Canada seems minor when the US servers are so fast.
How to use ExpressVPN for Netflix?
In order to access any Netflix library, you will need two things: a Netflix subscription and (in this case) an ExpressVPN subscription. To get the former, you‘ll have to:
- Go to Netflix.com and click “Join FREE for a month”.
- Choose one of 3 pricing plans: Basic, Standard, or Premium.
- Create an account using your email address
- Enter your payment details
Similarly, you’ll find ExpressVPN downloads and get to choose a pricing plan on Expressvpn.com. Unfortunately, there is no trial version, but the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee. We have tried it for our ExpressVPN Review and got a swift refund.
Once you have the VPN running, it’s time to decide which Netflix library you’d like to access. Most users are mainly interested in Netflix US for the simple reason that the American Netflix has the biggest library and the most quality content. Either way, the process is the same regardless of your country of choice.
Basically, all you have to do is connect to an ExpressVPN server inside the United States and go watch Netflix. To connect to the server, you can:
- Click ‘Choose Location’ on the Home screen, expand ‘United States’ on the ‘Recommended’ tab, click it and press the Connect button.
- If you want to choose a server location that’s not on the Recommended list, open the ‘All’ tab of the Location Chooser, find the United States, and expand the location list.
- Alternatively, you can open the Location Chooser by clicking the ‘Hamburger menu’ on the Home screen and then clicking ‘VPN Locations’.
If you can’t access Netflix US when connected to any particular server – just try a different one. ExpressVPN Netflix access problems are few, so you should get through in the end.
And that’s all there is to it! If you have any issues with the ExpressVPN and Netflix couple, you should contact their customer service, which is available 24/7 via live chat.