How to Use a VPN to Unblock Netflix

How to Use a VPN to Unblock Netflix

Summary: Being restricted from the entire Netflix catalog is frustrating. You never know if the movie you want to watch is going to be available in your area.  

The best way to unblock Netflix and access every country’s catalog is with a VPN. It allows you to hide your IP address and connect to a server in whatever country you desire, so you can watch the entire Netflix catalog.  

We reviewed 172 VPN providers and tested the top three for pricing, customer service, speed, ease of use and setup. The best VPN to unblock Netflix is ExpressVPN. It’s got the best mix of reasonable prices, fast speeds and helpful customer support, as well as being easy to navigate. 

If you want to unblock Netflix, get ExpressVPN now.  

Table of Contents 

  1. Why You Should Trust Us 
  1. Why You Can’t Unblock Netflix 
  1. How to Watch Netflix with a VPN 
  1. How We Tested VPNs for Netflix 
  1. Which VPN Works with Netflix? 
  1. Top Three VPNs that Unblock Netflix 
  1. Conclusion 

Why You Should Trust Us 

Our team has been featured by many leading organizations, including TechCrunch, Wired and Huffington Post. Plus, the author of this review has been writing about censorship and unblocking Netflix for over five years. For this article, he spent days researching and testing VPNs in preparation, on top of the many years of experience he has had with VPNs as an online censorship, government repression and surveillance writer. 

Why Can’t You Unblock Netflix? 

Being restricted from Netflix is irritating. You might be blocked by your school, company or local government, but we believe it’s wrong. We believe in freedom of entertainment on the web. Netflix itself even blocks your access to their content in certain circumstances. 

Netflix currently boasts a total catalog of 13,500+ titles in 190 countries, but not every country has access to all 13,500+ programs. A map produced by Finder.com shows that the U.S. catalog only includes 5,660 titles. That’s still more than the U.K. (2,967) and Australia (2,044) combined. 

The number of titles available is the least of your problems though. The next time you want to binge-watch your favorite series, you might be frustrated to find that some installments are only available in certain countries.  

For example, if you’re in Australia or Canada, your Netflix catalog includes “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” But if you want to binge-watch all seven Star Wars movies, you’ll have to connect to Netflix in the Netherlands. 
 
 

How to Watch Netflix with a VPN 

The good news is that you don’t have to be restricted from the Netflix content you want. You can get around content blocks set by your school, company, local government and, yes, even Netflix, by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). 

A VPN is a piece of software that you can install on your computer, mobile devices, tablets and even router to change your virtual location. It allows you to connect your device to an offsite, secure server that encrypts your traffic and assigns you a new IP address.  

The right VPN can circumvent all types of internet censorship: firewalls, IP address blocking, DNS filtering, URL filtering, packet filtering, etc. This gives you the freedom to browse the internet uncensored, and that includes unblocking Netflix.  

But these aren’t the only benefits you’ll get from using a VPN. The encryption a VPN provides will also allow you to protect your information and browsing habits from government surveillance.  

Some countries have blocked access to Netflix, as well as to many other entertainment resources they’ve deemed inappropriate. Using a VPN not only gives you access to entertainment, but also to freedom of information and data protection. 

Before you search for and select the first, cheapest VPN you can find, you should know that not all VPN providers were created equal. Some are based in the U.S., which means they’re required by law to keep records of your browsing habits for the last 12 months.  

Others offer a wider selection of servers across many countries. Some offer lightning fast connection speeds, even when streaming, but others buffer at the first sign of a video stream. Some have sub-par encryption, while others offer top-of-the-line, military-grade encryption.  

If you want to be able to unblock Netflix, you’re going to need the right VPN. 

How We Tested VPNs for Netflix 

To make sure you get a VPN that can get around local and global content blocks, we’ve used a three-stage process to narrow down the 170+ VPN providers on the market to find the best VPN for Netflix. 

This information is highly technical, so if you want to skip our testing methodology section and go straight to the recommendations, click here. 

The first stage of our testing process involved eliminating all VPNs that were based in a country whose laws can force the provider to record user information. We focused specifically on the 14 Eyes Zone (more on that later). 

The second stage involved reviewing the remaining VPNs and removing those that did not satisfy our minimum requirements. We identified ten features that we felt were bare-minimum features for a VPN provider. They include: 

  1. OpenVPN support 
  1. Unlimited bandwidth and data transfer 
  1. No data-logging policies 
  1. Official support for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android 
  1. Support for multiple concurrent connections 
  1. First-party DNS servers 
  1. No P2P blocking 
  1. Free trials, refunds or money-back guarantees 
  1. A minimum of one U.S. exit node 
  1. No mandatory SMTP blocking 

The final stage was to read user reviews of the remaining VPNs and eliminate those that had scores under 60 percent, such as a 3/5-star review or a 6/10 rating. We made sure to check at least three user reviews for each VPN and took an average of all their scores. 

Once we were left with a more manageable list of VPN providers, we were able to actively test for five criteria: pricing, setup process, ease of use, speed and customer service. 

Pricing: We compared the monthly, bi-annual and annual pricing structures for each of the contenders to ensure you’re getting the best deal. 

Setup Process: We signed up for, downloaded and installed each VPN to see which was easier to set up on a number of streaming devices, including computers, tablets and phones. 

Ease of Use: We tested the ease of use of the VPN with Netflix, ensuring that we could easily switch between countries and servers when necessary. 

Speed: We ran three speed tests from our server to three separate exit nodes (U.S., U.K. and Australia) to compare the VPNs and ensure we could stream Netflix without having to suffer through long load times and buffering.  

Customer Service: We contacted each customer support team three times: once with a pre-sale question, once with a technical difficulty and once with a payment difficulty. We compared their responsiveness, politeness and helpfulness. 

Which VPN Works with Netflix? 

These are the results of our investigation into the best VPN for Netflix: 

Elimination Round 1 

As mentioned previously, we focused first on eliminating VPNs that are based in one of the countries in the 14 Eyes Zone. The 14 Eyes Zone refers to 14 countries that have signed the UKUSA Agreement, in which they agree to collect, analyze and share intelligence.  

Despite having agreed not to spy on one another as enemies, these governments often spy for each other. For example, while it is illegal for the U.S. government to spy on its citizens, they could ask Netflix to share intelligence on user data gathered abroad.  

What this means for you as a VPN user is that the U.S government could approach a VPN provider in one of these 14 countries and demand access to your data. What’s worse is that they can also order the VPN company not to let its customers know they’re being surveilled. 

Out of the 170+ VPN providers on the market, 123 are based in the 14 Eyes Zone, including Hola!VPN, Hotspot Shield, LiquidVPN, TunnelBear and Unblock-Us. 

Elimination Round 2 

We next identified ten different features necessary to give users the optimal VPN experience. Our second round of testing revealed that not every VPN has these features. We’ll walk you through each one and eliminate the VPNs that don’t offer them. 

OpenVPN Support: VPNs can use various protocols, such as PPTP, IPsec and OpenVPN. OpenVPN is the most secure of these, so we only included providers that offer it. This eliminated VPN providers such as AnonVPN and Betternet.  

Unlimited Bandwidth and Data TransferIf you’re already paying for your broadband connection, you don’t want a VPN that will restrict your data usage. The VPN services that made the cut place no limitations on data transfer volume. This removed CrypticVPN and FoxyProxy. 

No-logging PolicyThough VPN activity logs can help a VPN provider troubleshoot problems, they can also be used to track what you do online. We only included providers that have a strict no-logging policy. This excluded LimeVPN and PureVPN. 

Official support for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android: Generally speaking, this ensures that the VPN providers we recommend are available to most of our readers. Providers offer customer service, instructions and a useable platform for every medium. This eliminated Cloak as it only supports iOS. 

Support for Multiple Concurrent Connections: Most people have a number of devices — computers, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, etc. — and they frequently use more than one at a time. A good VPN provider understands this and will let you use the same account with at least two devices without an extra charge. Unfortunately, not all VPNs offer this, so we eliminated those that didn’t, which included LibertyVPN and WiTopia. 

First-party DNS Servers: Even if a VPN service doesn’t log your data, if they choose to outsource DNS to a third party, they can’t stop that company from keeping records. This defeats the whole purpose of using a VPN for privacy. We eliminated providers who used third-party DNS servers, which removed Zenmate and VikingVPN. 

No P2P BlockingVPNs are used to provide privacy for P2P activities such as torrenting. To reduce bandwidth or for legal reasons, some VPN services block P2P traffic. We believe it should be your choice how you use a subscription you’re paying for, so these providers didn’t make our cut. This excluded UnoTelly and VPNJack. 

Free Trials, Refunds or Money-back GuaranteesYour priorities for a VPN service may be different to ours, so we only recommend VPN providers that allow you to test them. VPNs that don’t offer free trials or refunds were eliminated. Among others, this included Anonine and BTGuard. 

A Minimum of One U.S. Exit Node: An exit node is the server at the other end of the VPN where you’ll appear to be when you connect. Despite not wanting a U.S.-based VPN provider for reasons related to legal jurisdiction and the UKUSA Agreement, having a U.S. exit node ensures that your financial data remains protected. This criterion excluded many services, such as BolehVPN. 

No Mandatory SMTP Blocking: Because some people use a VPN to send spam without any repercussions, many VPNs choose to block all SMTP connections (or outgoing email). Considering you likely transmit valuable data and information via email, we ruled out those for whom SMTP is a nonstarter, which eliminated services such as AceVPN and CyberGhost. 

Elimination Round 3 

With so many VPNs left to test, we turned to reviews from users like you to make our final eliminations. We eliminated all VPN providers that scored an average of below 60 percent in at least three user reviews, such as ChillGlobal and FinchVPN. 

After this final elimination round, we were left with three VPNs. 

Top Three VPNs That Unblock Netflix 

We conducted in-depth tests on the top three VPNs to unblock Netflix, specifically comparing five criteria: pricing, setup process, ease of use, speed and customer service. The results are: 

#1: ExpressVPN  9/10 – Best VPN for Netflix 

ExpressVPN was the clear winner of our speed and customer service tests and also boasted an easy setup process and user experience. While it could be a bit cheaper, you get what you pay for, and ExpressVPN definitely provides the best service for unblocking Netflix. 

ProsExpressVPN’s pricing is in the middle of the three at $12.95/month, but they do offer a discounted rate of $8.32/month when prepaid for 12 months. While not the cheapest, you do get some great features for this rate.  

The setup process for ExpressVPN was very fast and easy. Hands down it was the best of them all. After creating an account on their website, you just download the software for the device you have and away you go. 

ExpressVPN was also super straightforward and easy to use in terms of selecting a country and connecting to a server there. They clearly spent a lot of resources on user experience to make using your VPN as easy as possible.  

When running our speed tests, ExpressVPN had the fastest speed on both the U.S. and U.K. exit nodes. It also came in second on the Australian exit node by only five percent. You shouldn’t have any issues with Netflix buffering while using this VPN. 

Finally, for customer service, ExpressVPN’s response times for the pre-sale, technical and billing questions were all under an hour. The support staff were helpful, polite and were usually able to successfully address our issues within two to three emails.  

ConsAs we mentioned, ExpressVPN could be cheaper. But you get what you pay for. When comparing the price to the results of the speed and customer service tests, this is mostly a non-issue. In this case, as most cases, it’s worth paying a bit more to get the best service.  

While ExpressVPN ranked #1 for both the U.S. and U.K. exit nodes, it only ranked #2 in Australia. It’s possible that this could be due to the time of day it was checked. However, we think ExpressVPN could do more to ensure they’re ranked #1 in Australia too.  

Finally, less than an hour is a great response times to sales, technical and billing questions. However, you can never respond quickly enough. We would like to see ExpressVPN cut their response times, but we are happy overall with the quality of the service provided. 

SummaryEven though there are a few areas where they can improve, ExpressVPN definitely provides the VPN that works best with Netflix. Despite being a bit more expensive than IPVanish, it dominated our speed, customer service, setup process and user experience tests.  

If you’re tired of being restricted and want to unblock Netflix catalogs worldwide, get ExpressVPN now. 

#2: IPVanish – 7/10 – A Step Behind ExpressVPN 

If you’re in a part of the world that doesn’t give you access to ExpressVPN, IPVanish is another option to unblock Netflix. It’s the cheapest VPN on the market and was easy to set up and use, but lacked the speed and support that come with ExpressVPN.   

ProsIPVanish is by far the cheapest VPN at $7.50/month for a one-month subscription or $4.87/month when you buy a 12-month subscription. In saying that, you get what you pay for. This is explained in detail in the Cons section. 

It also has a fast and easy setup process. You just download the software for the device of your choice, log in and you’re all set to unblock Netflix. It works as you would expect from an established corporation such as IPVanish. 

Like ExpressVPN, IPVanish was also quite easy to use. It is a little different to ExpressVPN, but just as easy. User experience was a clear priority for them during development. You’ll have no problem selecting a country and connecting.  

ConsWhere IPVanish fell short was its speed tests. It ranked #2 in the U.S. and the U.K. and #3 in Australia. It was roughly 15 percent slower than ExpressVPN in the U.S. and the U.K. and 22 percent slower in Australia. While these speeds may be okay, they don’t make this the best VPN for Netflix. 

IPVanish also didn’t impress us with their customer support. Their response to the pre-sale support ticket was very fast; they responded within 20 minutes. But their technical and billing enquiries took up to 24 hours to get a reply. It’s clear what they prioritize. 

SummaryDespite being the cheapest VPN on the market, IPVanish just doesn’t compare to ExpressVPN in terms of speed and customer support. To get the best VPN for Netflix, you need to prioritize speed so you can avoid that pesky buffering wheel. 

IExpressVPN isn’t available, you can learn more about IPVanish by clicking here. 

#3: HideMyAss VPN – 5/10 – Not Recommended 

Unfortunately, HideMyAss is not recommended as a VPN that works with Netflix. While it was easy to set up and use, it lacked the price, speed and support that come with ExpressVPN.   

Pros: We had no issues setting up HideMyAss. You just pay, sign up and download the version you need. It’s pretty hard to mess this up.  

HideMyAss was also quite easy to use. While it was somewhat different to ExpressVPN, they clearly paid attention to user experience. You’ll have no problem selecting and connecting to a server in the country of your choice. 

During our speed tests, we learned that HideMyAss ranked #1 in Australia, but only in Australia. This doesn’t even come close to the speed offered by ExpressVPN. We know most of our readers want to unblock Netflix in more places than Australia, too. 

Cons: Unfortunately, HideMyAss is the most expensive of the group, at $16.99/month on a one-month subscription and $9.29/month on a 12-month subscription. Given the lack of connection speed and lagging response times, ExpressVPN is clearly the better deal.  

While HideMyAss ranked #1 in Australia, it only ranked #3 in the U.S. and the U.K. We definitely noticed that these speeds were slow enough to make streaming Netflix frustrating, unlike ExpressVPN’s fast connection speeds. 

Finally, the response time to the customer support questions were all more than three hours. This included the pre-sale question. While IPVanish clearly prioritized sales, we don’t know what HideMyAss prioritized. 

Summary: Despite being the fastest VPN in Australia, HideMyAss just didn’t pass our tests for price, customer service and overall speed. And even though it beat ExpressVPN for speed in Australia, ExpressVPN clearly made up ground in the rest of our testing. 

If you’re uncertain about our results and would like to know more about HideMyAss, you can do your own research on their terms and conditions by clicking here. 

NOTE: Test results may vary based on the tester’s internet connection, computer hardware, location and exit node, as well as the type of activity the tester is trying to perform.  

Conclusion 

Not having access to the entire Netflix catalog because of your location is irritating. You shouldn’t have to travel halfway around the world just to watch your favorite movie or TV show.  

Using a VPN that works with Netflix means you don’t have to. When you sign up for a VPN service and connect to one of their servers, it hides your IP address, gives you a new one for that country and allows you you to unblock Netflix and access the entire catalog.  

After reviewing 172 VPN providers and running in-depth tests on the top three, we determined that the best VPN to unblock Netflix is ExpressVPN. It has fast connection speeds, helpful customer support and reasonable pricing, in addition to an easy setup and user experience. 

If you want to unblock Netflix, get ExpressVPN now.