Can You Unblock Netflix With a VPN?
Netflix is full of awesome shows and movies, and its user-friendly design makes binging them extremely fun. It’s just too bad that some of the content on the site is geo-blocked. Basically, you can only watch it in some countries.
Don’t just take our word for it, though – use StreamCatcher from ProPrivacy to see where Netflix titles are available. For example, if you look up Shameless (U.S.), you’ll see it’s only available in the US (staying true to its name, funny enough).
Would you be able to unblock that kind of content with a VPN, though? Since there are so many online articles talking about using Netflix VPNs. Not to mention how much VPN providers brag about unblocking Netflix in their marketing copy.
We’ll answer those questions (and more) in this quick article.
So Can a VPN Unblock Netflix?
Well, it depends.
Yes, a VPN should be able to help you unblock Netflix since it’s an online service that spoofs your geo-location. Here’s how it does that:
- You use a VPN app to connect to a VPN server. The server has to be in the same country as the Netflix title you want to unblock.
- The app and the server establish an encrypted connection.
- When you visit Netflix, the VPN server acts as a middleman between it and your device. Basically, it intercepts your connection requests, and forwards them to Netflix.
- Connection requests contain your IP address, which reveals your geo-location. Since Netflix thinks the requests are coming from the VPN server, it will only see the server’s IP address.
But here’s the problem – Netflix is really good at detecting VPN IP addresses. If you use a VPN that doesn’t refresh its IPs very often, you’ll likely end up seeing the Netflix proxy error.
The best way to find a VPN that actually unblocks Netflix 24/7 is to use StreamCatcher from ProPrivacy. Besides showing you which countries have a Netflix show or movie, it also recommends the top three VPN services that should help you unblock it.
And the suggestions are really accurate. They’re backed by ProPrivacy’s data, one of the biggest VPN review sites on the web.
How Else Can You Unblock Netflix?
If you’d like to check out more unblocking methods before making a decision, here are two more services that can help you unblock Netflix:
A proxy is really similar to a VPN – it’s also an online tool that routes your traffic through a server before it reaches Netflix. So the site will only see the proxy server’s IP address.
Proxies also have one “bonus” feature – they can save content on their local cache (like a specific Netflix web page). If you request that content, the proxy can just retrieve it from its cache. That means it doesn’t need to forward your requests to Netflix, so you get faster load times.
- Smart DNS
These are online services that hide your geo-location by doing the following:
- They change your DNS settings so that you’re not using your ISP’s DNS server.
- They route your traffic through different proxy servers.
- And finally, they intercept your DNS queries and remove any metadata that can leak your geo-location. Next, the Smart DNS replaces it with new data that is linked to a whitelisted geo-location (the US for US-only content, for instance).
Some people argue that Smart DNS services are more efficient at unblocking Netflix because the site doesn’t focus so much on detecting them as it does with VPNs and proxies. In our tests, they all worked equally well (except free VPNs, proxies, and Smart DNSs), so we can’t say how true that claim is.
VPN vs. Proxy vs. Smart DNS – Which One Is Better?
They can all help you unblock Netflix (if you pick the right provider), but we personally prefer VPNs.
Because they offer great security through end-to-end encryption. Basically, nobody can spy on the data traveling between your device and the VPN server. That’s really helpful when binging Netflix because it prevents bandwidth throttling (when your ISP slows down your speeds). Since they can’t see your traffic anymore, they can’t selectively throttle your Netflix connections.
Neither proxies nor Smart DNS services offer encryption. True, that means you get smoother speeds, but also less privacy + you can’t stop bandwidth throttling.
But in the end, it comes down to your personal preferences. Though, if you’re interested in getting a Smart DNS, consider using a VPN that offers it as a built-in option (like Surfshark or NordVPN do). That way, you get two services for the price of one. And if one stops unblocking Netflix, you have a backup.
Can You Unblock Netflix with Tor?
In our experience, no. We were never able to unblock different libraries. That’s not really surprising considering that Tor documentation states that Netflix can detect Tor.
But let’s say you actually manage to do this. It is a possibility since we saw people on Reddit saying they did it. Even then, using Tor for Netflix isn’t worth it.
Because the speeds will be atrociously low. In our tests, we usually averaged around 1-2 Mbps when using Tor. For reference, our ISP speeds average around 70-80 Mbps. Even when using a VPN with OpenVPN (the most resource-intensive protocol), we still got 50-60 Mbps speeds.
Don’t forget – to stream Netflix in Ultra HD, you need at least 25 Mbps. So Tor speeds just aren’t enough.
If you want to know why Tor is so slow, it’s probably because:
- It encrypts and decrypts your traffic at least three times.
- There are around 6,000 Tor servers and over two million Tor users. There’s definitely not enough bandwidth to go around.
What’s Your Favorite Way to Unblock Netflix?
Do you use VPNs, proxies, or were you actually able to unblock the site with Tor and get decent speeds? Please let us know in the comments below or on social media.
Also, if you know other ways to unblock Netflix, please mention them. And if you use any specific online tools, don’t forget to include links!