Why should you use a VPN for Netflix
Netflix and VPNs are two words you always see together online. But is using a VPN when watching Netflix worth it? In our opinion, yes – here are three reasons why.
Why should you use a VPN for Netflix?
You’ve probably heard about VPNs by now, and you’ve very likely seen tons of ads for Netflix VPNs or online articles talking about using a VPN for Netflix in your Google searches.
What’s all the fuss about, though? Should you really use a VPN when watching Netflix, or is it all just hype?
Well, that’s completely up to you. But we’ll show you why you might want to use a Netflix VPN in this quick article. Based on our experience, there are three pretty good reasons to do that:
1. Unblock shows & movies
Netflix is full of amazing entertainment, but did you know the number of shows and movies varies depending on what country you are from?
For example, the US, UK, and Canadian libraries have the most content (around 6,000 titles). Compared to them, the Norwegian and Swedish Netflix libraries only have around 3,000 – 3,500 shows.
Why the difference?
Because Netflix uses geo-blocks to enforce copyright agreements. They don’t own all the shows on their platform, so they can’t stream them worldwide. It sounds weird, but here’s the problem – Netflix has to buy distribution rights for the shows it doesn’t own.
And they only get those rights for some countries. That’s because the copyright holders sold the licensing rights to other streaming sites and TV networks in other regions. It’s more profitable for them that way.
If you don’t believe us, no problem – just use StreamCatcher by ProPrivacy to see for yourself. It’s an online tool that shows you which countries a Netflix show or movie is available in. We looked up Parks and Recreation, and the tool accurately told us it’s only available in the US library.
How a VPN helps
A VPN spoofs your geo-location by “hiding” your IP address from Netflix. Basically, it routes your traffic through a VPN server that acts as a middleman between you and the site. Netflix will think your connection requests are coming from the VPN server, so it will only see the server’s IP address.
Don’t forget – your IP address tells everyone what country and city you are from. So hiding it this way makes sure your geo-location isn’t revealed. You just need to use a VPN server in the country where the Netflix content you want to watch is available, and you’re good to go.
For example, if you want to watch Shameless (U.S.), you need to use a US, UK, Canadian, Australian, or Japanese server since the show is only available in those countries.
2. Prevent or stop bandwidth throttling
Bandwidth throttling is when ISPs intentionally lower your online speeds. They usually do that to prevent network congestion, but it can be a not-so-subtle way of “convincing” you to upgrade to a pricier subscription or data plan.
Since ISPs can see your traffic, it’s very easy for them to throttle it. They can analyze your data packets and see your connection requests, so they know exactly which sites or web apps you’re spending so much data on.
So your speeds going down when you binge Netflix the entire weekend might be tied to bandwidth throttling.
How a VPN helps
VPNs encrypt your traffic end-to-end. All the data passing between your device and the VPN server can’t be monitored by your ISP anymore. If they try to sneak a peek, they’ll only see gibberish. For instance, instead of connection requests to “Netflix.com,” they’ll see something like “OFS2sKuBAMlbfFv6gKt6Lw==.”
What’s more, your ISP won’t know what IP addresses you access. They’ll only see the VPN server’s IP address, not Netflix’s address.
Without that information, they won’t be able to selectively slow down your speeds anymore.
3. Unblock Netflix at school or on college campus
Netflix might sometimes be out of reach when you go to school or use the campus WiFi. Why?
Who knows – maybe the administration thinks it’d just distract you when you should be paying attention to class or studying. Though it’s more likely that the school/college has limited bandwidth, and they don’t want it being wasted on Netflix.
Whichever the case, firewalls are the reason you can’t use Netflix. Network admins use them to block all traffic to and from the site.
How a VPN helps
It’s pretty simple – with it, you communicate with Netflix through a new IP address which doesn’t have any firewall restrictions linked to it.
Basically, instead of this route:
Your Device à School/College Network à ISP Network à Netflix
Your traffic would take this path:
Your Device à School/College Network à ISP Network à VPN Server à Netflix
As long as the VPN server’s IP address isn’t targeted by the firewall, you can use it to unblock Netflix as much as you want. And network admins won’t know you’re doing it because your traffic is encrypted, and they can only see you connecting to the VPN server.
Won’t using a VPN result in the Netflix proxy error?
Yes, that can happen. Netflix is able to detect and block VPN IP addresses pretty easily, so you might often get this error message:
The best way to avoid that is to use a VPN that can keep up with Netflix’s detection algorithms (i.e. one that refreshes its IP pool very often). Finding one can be tough, so we recommend using StreamCatcher by ProPrivacy. When you look up a Netflix show or movie, the tool will automatically recommend the best VPNs for it.
If you still end up getting the error, here’s what you can do:
- Restart the VPN app and/or connection.
- Connect to a different server.
- Update the app if you haven’t already.
- Clear your browser’s cookies and use incognito mode.
- Ask the provider for a dedicated IP (preferably a residential one).
- Contact support to see what’s going on.
Do you use VPNs when watching Netflix?
If you do, what’s your experience like? Are you able to unblock all the content you want, or do you encounter issues from time to time? Please let us know in the comments below.