With so many VPN service providers out there, it’s clear there have to be some advantages of using one, right? One of these is the ability to bypass the strict Netflix detection to stream geo-restricted TV shows. But, how does Netflix detect VPN services in the first place? Why is it an issue?

Basically, a VPN is used to:

  • Cloak your connection and encrypt your signal to make your browsing activity anonymous;
  • Manipulate your IP address to make you appear to come from a different country, not to mention a different computer.

No wonder how or why a VPN solution can be used to access censored and geo-blocked content. But do they always succeed? Let’s see what you need to know about VPN services and Netflix.

Accessing Netflix and streaming content outside the USA

Companies such as Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora have copyright agreement preventing the broadcasting of any content outside of the USA. Hence, people in the UK, Canada, Australia, and South America cannot stream Netflix movies. However, they have learned to manipulate IP address using a VPN to allow video streaming on Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix has developed a way to detect VPN users. An API on their system enables your computer to query the real IP address to retrieve ISP and location immediately.

Users from all over the world would use VPN to access Netflix content from their countries. For instance, a user who is living in Germany but wants to watch a show only available in the US would only require to start up the VPN software, connect to the Netflix website and watch movies with ease. However, this method has stopped working for most users. But why? How does Netflix detect VPN?

Crackdown on the use of VPNs

If you’re here, you’ve probably heard of Netflix VPN ban. If not, here it is. Back in 2016, a major media service provider decided to block any attempts to bypass their regional-locked content using a VPN. Of course, Netflix VPN ban makes it difficult to access their content from other countries. This decision was probably settled after copyright holders pressured the corporation. Streaming a movie that is not licensed in your region leaves the copyright holders unpaid for the viewership.

The crackdown on the use of VPNs was intensified by the fact that Netflix is not only a content distributor but also a content creator. Their recent shows such as “Orange is the New Black”, or “House of Cards” have grown enormous viewership. Hence, the corporation took a stricter stance towards privacy and copyright laws.

Eventually, Netflix announced that they intend to provide global access to content. That is, you can watch any content wherever you are in the world. However, this decision will come after a long process of negotiations with copyright holders. We’re unlikely to see a global Netflix any time soon.

So how does Netflix detect VPN services?

Users unaware of the Netflix VPN ban get to the site, browse the content as usual, and get video updates. Nevertheless, you might know that, at first, Netflix opens a website version related to the real geolocation of a user. For instance, a user in the UK will see a UK version of Netflix website. However, when it comes to watching the video, the user gets a proxy error. The system blocks your VPN, and you can’t watch content on Netflix!

How does it happen?

Netflix uses a sophisticated VPN detection. Initially, the site acts as if there is a version of it in your country. Hence, it’s able to read the country code of the upcoming IP address. Apart from the website, Netflix operates another server that hosts the video content. A strict protocol is used to determine whether a user is operating with a VPN before allowing to access the server with video content.

Looking closer: Shared IP addresses on VPNs

Unfortunately, the first thing that VPN detection looks for is a shared IP address. Most VPN service providers use a shared IP address. So, how does Netflix detect VPN services? The system notices dozens of users on the same IP address. Hence, if you’re looking to bypass this ban, try using an individual IP address. VPN providers typically buy up IP address in massive bulk. Therefore, there are a whole lot of servers under similar IP addresses.

Netflix can detect the particular IP address and block it. This means that even those users who don’t use a VPN but whose real geolocation matches the IP address can be blocked. Netflix has already made it hard to use a VPN and access content – even if you’re a Netflix customer, you’ve got to sacrifice your privacy!