Once upon a time, it was easy to watch Netflix content wherever you were, whenever you wished. All you needed was a very basic VPN and a Netflix account, and you could view US shows in the Atacama Desert, or British comedies in India. And now you’re looking how to beat Netflix VPN ban.
Back in 2016, news broke about a new blocking system used by Netflix, and everything changed. Since then, a battle has been raging between VPN developers and streaming companies. One side has sought to open up entertainment to everyone, and the other has sought to protect their business model. And ordinary fans have been left in the middle, unsure of how to watch the movies and TV they love.
Whether you’re wondering ‘how does Netflix know I’m using a VPN’ or you want to optimize your streaming speeds, this guide will explain how to get the most out of your online entertainment, and how to work around the blocks that tech monopolies employ.
How Netflix content varies from country to country
You might not be aware of it if you’ve only ever accessed Netflix from a single location, but the TV shows and movies available on the multi-national platform vary depending on where you are. And as we’ll see in a moment, this variation can significantly alter the range of viewing options at users’ disposal.
According to Netflix themselves, the reasons for this diversity are fairly simple. Across the world, every nation has its own copyright laws, and each rights holder (usually the company which produces the content) sells the right to screen their products.
This means that Netflix can’t just buy global rights to a show like Stranger Things, then screen it everywhere. Instead, they need to negotiate a deal in each country. Sometimes, other companies may have secured exclusive rights to carry a series, leaving Netflix out of the picture. And when this happens, subscribers won’t be able to stream it, even though it might be listed on the general Netflix directory.
In other cases, shows might be profitable in one country, but less popular in another. As each show costs money to carry on the Netflix platform, they may not carry that show everywhere, causing problems for a hardcore of dedicated fans.
In any case, the range of shows available to Netflix users is policed by a system of “geoblockers”, which detect where users are based and deliver the right mix of content. And it’s these difficult customers that we need to work around to get access to the full repertoire of Netflix shows.
A quick run down of Netflix content available in various countries
To get a handle on the extent of Netflix’s geoblocking activities, it helps to compare what’s on offer in different jurisdictions.
Firstly, let’s have a look at the number of films on offer:
|Country||Number of films||Compared to US|
And TV shows in different countries:
|Country||Number of TV shows
||Compared to US|
That’s just a small sample to make comparison easier. In fact, the USA doesn’t have the largest movie library (Japan offers a few hundred more). However, these lists do show how much the libraries vary between countries.
That’s purely down to Netflix’s geoblockers. There’s nothing to stop a Portuguese movie lover accessing American Netflix servers, apart from the ability of Netflix to identify IP addresses from Portugal and deny them access. And that’s why it’s so important to know how to beat Netflix VPN ban systems.
Understanding the Netflix VPN ban
When the full extent of how Netflix uses geoblocking became apparent, VPNs stepped in to offer a ready-made solution. After all, if the blockers were simply filtering out users located in certain countries, finding a workaround should have been as simple as adopting a native IP address.
VPNs are ideally suited to this kind of deception because they mask users’ original identities and create the illusion that users are based elsewhere. In theory, they should be very hard for companies like Netflix to beat, and it’s true that the streaming giant has struggled to defeat them.
However, in 2017 multiple VPNs were effectively blocked by Netflix. All over the world thousands of users suddenly found their Netflix VPN not working, when the day before they could watch their favorite content with no problems.
How Netflix detects VPN users
Perhaps it was inevitable, but many VPN users were surprised to find that the platform had developed some efficient ways to detect and neutralize VPNs. So how do these techniques work, and do they mean that you can’t use Netflix with VPN clients any more?
One answer to the question how does Netflix know I’m using a VPN is related to the way VPNs work. Many VPNs route large numbers of users through single servers, using closely related IP addresses to hide users’ identities. Bundling masses of individuals together is a great way to anonymize web usage, but it has one fatal drawback: platforms like Netflix can detect patterns of similar IP addresses and then block ban them, knocking all of a VPN’s servers out of action in one move.
Some specialist companies also collect the IP addresses used by VPNs and sell this information to platforms like Netflix, which makes the task of screening the site’s users much simpler (but isn’t the most precise way to filter traffic).
Sometimes, Netflix simply detect discrepancies which alert them to VPN usage. For instance, if you previously created an account in the USA, but access content via a server in Europe, that could be an indication that you’re trying to work around the site’s geoblockers. When you create a Netflix account, the site will log your IP address as well as your physical address and payment details. So it makes sense to sign up for a separate account if you plan to use VPNs.
However, the ways Netflix detects VPN usage aren’t foolproof. Sometimes they make mistakes and include completely blameless users. Much of the time they fail to detect VPN users. It’s not an exact science, which means that no matter how tough their security measures are, it’s hard to see Netflix blocking VPN services permanently. And that’s great news for entertainment fans.
Can using a VPN help to beat Netflix ISP throttling?
Before we look at how to bypass Netflix VPN block systems, there’s another issue that many VPN users encounter: ISP throttling.
Throttling is a much discussed but often denied phenomenon where internet service providers limit the speeds of certain users, especially users who use relatively high amounts of data. ISPs aren’t supposed to throttle anyone, but the evidence strongly suggests that they do. And Netflix is one of the data hungry sites that appears to prompt ISPs to limit user speeds.
As far as we know, not all ISPs are affected by this, but some major names like Verizon have been implicated. Thankfully, there’s VPNs that offer a simple solution if you think that your Netflix speeds are suffering. By hiding your data and anonymizing your identity, a good VPN will make it almost impossible for Verizon or any other ISP to monitor and throttle your streams.
The only real problem when learning how to beat Netflix VPN ban systems is finding a reliable VPN that won’t let you down. With that in mind, here’s a quick guide to finding and using a VPN with the Netflix streaming platform.
A step by step guide to how to bypass the Netflix VPN block
#1 Choosing a VPN
The first step in learning how to bypass Netflix VPN block systems is to research the current selection of VPNs. Not all VPNs are able to access Netflix outside of your current jurisdiction. In fact, since Netflix blocking VPN was exposed, a huge range of previously popular VPNs have struggled to adjust.
The world of VPNs changes regularly, so it’s not possible to write a definitive list of VPNs that are guaranteed to work around Netflix blockers, but ExpressVPN, NordVPN and PureVPN have a pretty strong track record and haven’t been beaten since the blockers were put in place.
Before you download a VPN client, have a look at their server list as well. Most good VPNs have wide geographic reach, but some are relatively limited. So if you intend to watch European Netflix from a US location, ensure that there are plenty of European servers.
#2 Signing up
Unfortunately, these premium VPNs are not free of charge, so when you download them you’ll have to sign up for a contract. Longer terms tend to come with cheaper per month fees, so if you’re confident that your chosen VPN will remain effective for 12-18 months, they are a cost effective option. However, we know that Netflix constantly try to strengthen their blockers and users can suddenly find their Netflix VPN not working. So shorter term contracts are often recommended.
All of these VPNs work in roughly the same way. Any data you send or receive will be encrypted before it leaves your computer, “wrapped” in another layer of encryption, then re-routed through the server of your choice, effectively hiding your identity and your data.
#3 Using servers
When you’ve got your VPN set up and the client is loaded, you’ll need to select a server. Most clients will automatically select the fastest server, so you’ll need to unflag this option. The fastest server will generally be geographically close to where you are, which isn’t much of a help if you want to access Netflix services in another country.
Choose a server in the target country and route your VPN traffic through it. Now, sign onto Netflix and you should be able to access content which is specific to that region. If the server fails, don’t panic. Switch to another one in the same country and you should be able to continue browsing TV and movies.
#4 Think about a dedicated IP
If you’ve tried a conventional VPN and you still can’t use Netflix with VPN servers, there’s another option to think about. As we noted before, Netflix can detect bundles of IP addresses coming from the same server. But some VPNs offer a service called “dedicated IP addresses” which get around this issue.
A dedicated IP address is essentially a unique address which is solely for your use and isn’t related to anyone else’s. These addresses come with an extra charge, but are a much more reliable way to access streaming services.
Additionally, some VPNs like CyberGhost offer packages which are dedicated to Netflix, and are constantly tweeked to stay ahead of the streaming company’s security measures. They aren’t quite as reliable as a dedicated IP, but are another option to consider when thinking about how to get around Netflix VPN blocksystems.
Does using a VPN slow down Netflix streaming?
Before you download a VPN and start streaming, there’s one other important issue to get out of the way. As you may know, VPNs are often accused of slowing down internet connections. There’s some truth in that, as superimposing an extra layer of encryption inevitably has a cost.
But does this make using Netflix and a VPN impossible? Of course not. Hundreds of thousands of people have responded to Netflix blocking VPN connections by flocking to reputable providers, who have streamlined their software and boosted their server speeds.
Not all servers will be lightning fast (particularly when demand is high), but if you choose a VPN which is reliable and has a large server list, you should find an option which allows you to stream any shows or movies without lagging or image problems.
Use the right VPN to defeat the tech giants
By now you should have a pretty good idea of how to get around Netflix VPN block techniques. Fundamentally, it’s pretty simple. Just find a VPN service which you can rely on to maintain its servers and software, so that it stays a step ahead of Netflix.
That sounds simple, but it’s easy to get stuck with a VPN contract that doesn’t provide Netflix access. And if your VPN does guarantee access, you still need to choose your servers wisely to ensure good speeds and the right selection of content.
But don’t worry. You can beat the Netflix ban, and whatever other blockers and filters the entertainment platform uses. With a thriving community of VPN experts and a mass market for privacy tools, corporations will struggle to limit access permanently, no matter what they do.