Netflix is one of the most popular content platforms in the world. Unfortunately, you get access to different content depending on the country you’re from. And, sometimes, your country’s library can be pretty boring. Or it might not have all the shows and movies you want to watch.
What’s your option in that case? Put up with the limited content or switch to a different streaming platform (so spend more money, basically).
How about unblocking the Netflix library you want to binge instead? We’re talking about getting access to any series and movie you want, no matter where you are in the world.
We’ll show four ways you can do that in this article, and we’ll also discuss which method is the best. Besides that, we’ll also answer any other questions you might have.
4 Ways to Unblock Netflix
We did the research and ran the tests. According to our findings, these are the only ways you can unblock Netflix:
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is an online service that hides your IP address and encrypts your traffic. The “hides your IP address” part is what should interest you because that’s how VPNs help you unblock Netflix content.
Because your IP address reveals your geo-location to any site you visit. It lets it know what country and city you are from, who your ISP is, and – sometimes – what your ZIP code is.
The whole process can seem like it’s very complicated, but it’s actually pretty simple. Here’s a quick explanation of how it works:
- First, you use a VPN app to connect to a VPN server. The server has to be in a country where the Netflix content you want to watch is available. So to unblock shows and movies from Canada, you need a Canadian VPN server.
- Once you do that, the VPN app and the VPN server negotiate and establish a connection between them.
- From then on, whenever you visit Netflix, your connection requests will go to it through the VPN server. Basically, the server will act as a middleman between you and Netflix.
- Because of that, Netflix will think your connection requests are sent by the VPN server, not your device. So the site will only see the VPN server’s IP address.
If you’re still confused, here’s an image that should help you visualize how a VPN hides your IP address from Netflix:
To find the best VPNs for Netflix, click here. It’s a very helpful guide from ProPrivacy that lists top VPN providers whose services can actually unblock Netflix. The list also has useful information about the speeds you can expect to get.
Also known simple as “proxies,” these tools work just like VPNs – they hide your IP address from Netflix to help you get around its geo-blocks. Just like a VPN server, a proxy server also acts as a middleman between you and the sites you visit.
Unlike VPNs, though, proxies don’t offer strong encryption. Also, they have one bonus feature – a local caching ability. That lets the proxy server save requested web pages on its local cache. That way, when you request saved content, the proxy can retrieve it for you without having to forward your connection requests to Netflix.
What does that mean for you?
That you’ll get faster load times, basically. It’s not always a very noticeable boost, but it’s a perk that can sometimes be convenient.
This is an online service that hides your geo-location from the websites you browse. Unlike a proxy or a VPN, it doesn’t do that by hiding your IP address. Instead, it does the following:
- It tweaks your DNS address settings. Essentially, it hides it since it can also reveal your geo-location.
- It routes your traffic through different proxy servers around the world. That way, Netflix will think your connection requests are coming from different geographical regions.
- Lastly, the Smart DNS intercepts and tweaks your DNS requests. When it does that, it replaces any data that reveals your real geo-location with new information that points to a whitelisted region (so where the Netflix content you want to watch is available).
A VPS is a virtual server you rent from a data center and then use to unblock Netflix. There’s not much to say about it since it pretty much works like VPN servers (at least when it comes to unblocking Netflix). In fact, many VPN providers use virtual private servers. It’s how they can afford to have huge networks of thousands of servers.
Instead of using an app to run your connection, you’ll use VMs (virtual machines) to install an operating system on the server. Once you configure everything, you’ll use the server to browse Netflix.
Obviously, to unblock the Netflix library you want, you’d have to rent a VPS from the country where that content is available in. If you want to unblock content from different regions, you’ll need to rent multiple servers.
What’s the Best Way to Unblock Netflix?
Now that we took a look at how you can unblock Netflix, let’s see what’s the best option is. We’ll take a look at each unblocking method’s advantages and disadvantages, and include a verdict at the end.
- A very efficient and user-friendly way to unblock Netflix. When running tests, we had the easiest time unblocking Netflix with a VPN. All it takes is a few clicks or taps.
- Most providers have large networks, so you can quickly switch between server locations to unblock content from different countries.
- VPNs encrypt your traffic end-to-end, so nobody can spy on it. It’s a good way to stop ISPs from selling your Netflix preferences to advertisers.
- Because VPNs encrypt your data, your ISP can’t throttle your bandwidth anymore (slow down your speeds, basically) whenever you binge Netflix.
- Many VPNs configure their servers to double as proxies, and offer Smart DNSs as extra services. So you often get a three-in-one deal with them.
- VPN apps can work on multiple operating systems. Devices with no native support for VPN apps can still use VPN connections if you set up the VPN on your router.
- VPNs will always slow down your original speeds. It’s not always by a lot, but it can sometimes be noticeable.
- Not all VPNs can successfully unblock Netflix, resulting in users seeing the Netflix proxy error.
- A pretty simple way to unblock Netflix.
- Really user-friendly. You either use an app on your device or a web app.
- Local caching delivers faster load times.
- Work on most platforms.
- Weak encryption means you don’t get any privacy. Also, you can’t stop bandwidth throttling.
- The local caching feature can sometimes deliver outdated content.
- Many proxies are free to use, so they can’t afford to offer decent infrastructure (stable connections, for example). They also get overcrowded fast, meaning you’ll deal with slow speeds.
- Netflix is pretty good at detecting and blocking proxy servers.
- Simple to get the hang of and use.
- Very cross-platform compatible.
- Smart DNS services don’t use encryption, so your original speeds shouldn’t be affected at all.
- No encryption also means you don’t get any security, and you can’t bypass bandwidth throttling.
- Smart DNS providers have to manually unblock a site before you can browse it. If they didn’t unblock Netflix or the Netflix library you want to binge, you won’t be able to get around the site’s geo-restrictions.
- Smart DNS services don’t hide your IP address, so you can’t stop sites and advertisers from tracking you online. Also, you can’t unblock Netflix at school or work because you can’t bypass the firewall.
- It’s a DIY solution that can feel immensely satisfying for anyone passionate about IT.
- A customizable option that gives you more control over your connection.
- While you can unblock Netflix with a VPS, it won’t be easy or convenient. You need to install an operating system on the server and get used to relying on virtual machine software to browse Netflix.
- Unless you set up VPN protocols on the server, you won’t get any encryption. Obviously, doing that isn’t easy at all.
- Improper configuration could result in IP leaks, meaning Netflix will know what your real geo-location is.
- Not a very cheap option. VPS prices tend to start around $5-$10, but can easily go over $20 if you need extra CPU cores, RAM memory, and bandwidth.
- With one VPS, you can only unblock one Netflix library. If you want to unblock multiple regions, you’ll need to rent servers from all of them. That all adds up, making the VPS solution even more expensive.
- Overall, not a suitable option for anyone who isn’t an IT expert.
The Bottom Line – VPNs Are the Clear Winner
They’re simply the easiest and most efficient way to unblock Netflix. Plus, you get tons of extra perks too (like no bandwidth throttling, simultaneous connections, and increased privacy).
What’s more, many VPNs have servers that double as proxies and built-in Smart DNS features. So there’s really no reason to rely on proxies or Smart DNS services when you can already use them with a VPN.
And for all they offer, VPNs come with a budget-friendly price tag. On average, you’ll spend around $5 per month on a VPN (or $60 annually). If you get a longer plan (like a yearly subscription) you’ll also get pretty big discounts.
Just make sure you use a VPN that’s actually able to unblock Netflix 24/7. The best way to find such a provider is to click here and use ProPrivacy’s guide.
Why Isn’t All Netflix Content Available Worldwide?
As much as Netflix would love to stream everything worldwide, itcan’t do that due to rights agreements. Simply put, Netflix doesn’t own all the content on its site. The majority of the content available belongs to third parties, with Netflix purchasing the license to air certain TV shows and movies per country.
That sounds a bit complicated, so let’s simplify it with an example:
Let’s say you’re in France, and the show you want to watch is only available in the US and Canada. That’s because Netflix only bought the distribution rights for those two countries. They didn’t buy them for France, and the copyright holder likely sold the rights to a local TV network or a different streaming platform there.
So Netflix can’t legally stream that show in your country. To avoid getting into trouble, they use geo-blocks to stop anyone from France from accessing the Canadian or US library to see the content.
What about Netflix Originals?
Netflix owns the copyright to those shows, right?
Yes, they do. And, usually, Netflix Originals are available worldwide. There is one exception, though: if Netflix sold the distribution rights for their shows to other networks before launching their service in a specific country.
In that case, they can’t stream their original shows there. To do that, they’d need to wait for the contract to expire, and try to buy back the rights. However, the network they sold the rights to could ask for absurd prices, and there might not be any sure way to guarantee a decent ROI for that investment.
So, Netflix has no choice but to geo-block their own shows in those countries.
Can You Unblock Netflix with Tor?
Tor also hides your IP address and it’s also free, so you should be able to unblock Netflix content easily, right?
In theory, you should. But in practice, not really. If you check this list of services that block Tor, you’ll see Netflix there. If you use Tor to visit Netflix, you’ll just see this error: “Proxy error (code S7111-1331-5059).”
And our tests back that up. When we tried to unblock Netflix content with Tor, we weren’t able to do it.
Even if you were able to unblock Netflix with Tor, we wouldn’t recommend doing it.
Because you’d very likely get extremely slow speeds. Tor is very popular, but doesn’t have enough network infrastructure to support that popularity. According to statistics, there are over two million people who use Tor, and only a little over 6,000 servers to accommodate them.
And if we use the performance chart from Tor, we can see that it takes anywhere between two seconds and ten seconds to download 1 MiB (1.04858 MB, so roughly 1 MB). The average seems to sit around five seconds.
Converted, 1 MB/s is around 8 Mbps. That’s already low, but don’t forget – it’s Megabyte per second. The average for Tor is five seconds, so that’d mean we’re dealing with speeds of around 0.2 MB/s. Converted, that’s approximately 2 Mbps.
So yeah, you’d get a painfully slow experience trying to binge Netflix using Tor.
Can You Unblock Netflix with Free DNS Codes?
DNS codes are DNS addresses you find online. The idea is simple – you set them up on your router or device, and you should be able to unblock Netflix.
So basically they’re the free version of Smart DNS services.
Do they work?
Not really. Here’s why:
- The connections will be extremely unstable. The free DNS servers are rarely prepared to handle a huge influx of traffic.
- Most DNS codes will stop working after a short period. There’s no monetary incentive for the people running them to keep up with Netflix’s blocking.
- You usually find free DNS codes on shady websites. So there’s a chance whoever runs the server will log your traffic. Even worse, they could redirect it to phishing sites.
Can You Unblock Netflix with Free VPNs?
You might be able to do it for a short period, but the free VPN will stop working soon after.
Here’s the problem – since they’re free, they don’t have the financial resources to keep up with Netflix’s blocking methods. Basically, they don’t have enough money to keep refreshing their IP addresses 24/7.
Besides that, using a free VPN also means:
- Dealing with slow and unstable connections.
- Dealing with capped bandwidth.
- Exposing yourself to tons of ads (some of which might be malicious).
- Using an app that might infect your device with malware.
- Letting the provider log and sell your data to advertisers.
How Can Netflix Detect Unblocking Tools?
There’s no information about this online. So we can only speculate what Netflix does.
We mainly believe Netflix works with companies like MaxMind and IP2Location – online services that gather data about IP addresses, and share it with businesses like Netflix. For example, IP2Location has a proxy detection database that offers access to IP addresses used by VPNs.
Those companies can also provide Netflix with automated scripts that detect and block VPN server IP addresses (like this one, for instance).
Besides that, here’s how else we think Netflix detects unblocking tools:
- They spot multiple sign-ins from the same IP address. That means they notice tens or hundreds of people are signing into their accounts from one IP address (the VPN server’s address).
- They partner up with residential ISPs through their Open Connect program. They do that to make sure they only accept traffic from “legitimate” sources, not data centers.
- The site checks your browser’s tracking cookies. If it detects cookies from multiple geographical areas, it will likely assume you’re using a VPN.
VPNs & the Netflix Proxy Error (How to Fix It)
Unfortunately, you might sometimes get the Netflix proxy error even when you use a paid VPN service. Don’t worry, though – that’s completely normal. Here are some quick things you can try to solve the problem:
Restart the VPN Connection & App
Sometimes, this is the easiest fix. Just disconnect from the server, wait a few seconds, and reconnect again.
If that doesn’t work, disconnect from the server, shut down the app, wait a few seconds, start it up again, and reconnect.
Use Netflix-Dedicated Servers
Some providers have dedicated streaming servers. Basically, they optimize them for a certain streaming site (like Netflix). That might mean the dedicated servers refresh their IP addresses more often than other servers keep up with Netflix’s bans.
For example, CyberGhost has dedicated streaming servers for specific platforms and devices.
If the provider doesn’t have dedicated streaming servers, try connecting to a different regular server instead. The one you’re currently using might have had its IP blacklisted by Netflix.
Update the VPN App
An outdate app can sometimes leak your IP address, or it might use outdated IP addresses which are blacklisted by Netflix.
So if you have any update notifications in the app, go ahead and run them right now.
Clear Browser Cookies & Use Incognito Mode
Tracking cookies can cause your browser to leak your geo-location, so we recommend clearing them before visiting Netflix.
You should also use incognito mode. It should ignore cookies and stop your geo-location from being leaked to Netflix.
Get a Dedicated IP Address
With a dedicated IP address, Netflix won’t see dozens of sign-ins from the IP address you’re using. What’s more, if you get a dedicated residential IP address, it will look like your IP address is from a legitimate residential ISP.
Not all VPNs offer dedicated IPs, so you should ask your provider if they do. Just keep in mind you’ll probably have to pay extra for it.
If nothing worked, it’s time to contact your provider’s support team. They should be able to tell you what the problem is, what they’re doing to fix it, and how long it should take.
Is Netflix Slow with a VPN for You? Here’s How to Optimize the Speeds
VPNs are excellent unblocking tools, but they do have one annoying drawback – they tend to lower your speeds.
If the slowdown you experience is too noticeable, here’s what you can try to optimize the VPN speeds you’re getting:
Connect to a Nearby Server
The bigger the distance between you and the VPN server, the more it takes data packets to travel between the VPN app on your device and the server. That results in you getting slower speeds. Also, a large distance can cause packets to be lost in transit, causing your connection to drop.
So try connecting to a server that’s physically closer to you. That can be a little tricky with Netflix, true, since you’re dealing with geo-blocks.
If you’re from Italy, you can’t use a server in Germany to unblock the US library, for example.However, you can use Google Maps to see which US server is closer to your location. Instead of connecting to one that’s in San Francisco or Seattle, you should use servers in cities like Boston, New York, or Philadelphia (or any city on the East Coast).
Similarly, if you’re from Japan and want to unblock the UK library, try connecting to servers in Belfast or Liverpool. They’re a bit closer to your country than servers in London. Not by a lot, sure, but it might be enough to make a difference.
Use Dedicated Servers
We talked about these servers when we mentioned how to get around the Netflix proxy error.
Well, dedicated streaming servers are an ideal pick if you’re looking to enjoy smooth speeds too. If the VPN has Netflix-dedicated servers for your platform, make sure you use them instead of other servers.
Use a Lightweight Protocol
VPN protocols are responsible for negotiating and establishing the VPN connection between the app and the server. By default, most providers use OpenVPN. Don’t get us wrong – it’s an excellent protocol when it comes to security. But it’s pretty lacking in terms of speed.
Because OpenVPN is very resource-intensive. It’s mostly due to its code base which ranges from 70,000 lines to 600,000 when combined with OpenSSL. Because of that, it will have a pretty big impact on your speeds.
In our tests, we saw OpenVPN lowering our speeds to 40-50 Mbps from 500 Mbps. Obviously, the slowdown was a bit noticeable.
Luckily, OpenVPN isn’t the only VPN protocol. There plenty of other lightweight alternatives:
We got very decent speeds with IKEv2 and WireGuard in particular when watching Netflix. They hovered around 200-300 Mbps, which was more than enough to bine the shows and movies we wanted without dealing with interruptions.
IMPORTANT: PPTP is also extremely fast, but we don’t recommend using it. It has very, very poor security. In fact, the NSA has already cracked PPTP encryption. If you really insist on using it, don’t do any sensitive stuff like online banking and logging into social media accounts. Also, use a different protocol (OpenVPN, ideally) when logging into your Netflix account to keep your credentials secure.
Use OpenVPN Over UDP
Maybe you don’t want to use other VPN protocols. Or maybe your VPN provider only offers OpenVPN for your device.
If that’s the case, you should configure OpenVPN to run over UDP instead of TCP. While TCP is more stable, it’s also more “heavy,” so you get slower speeds.
In our tests, using OpenVPN over UDP took our speeds from 40-50 Mbps (with OpenVPN over TCP) to 100-110 Mbps. So a pretty cool 54-60% boost in speeds.
You can normally switch between TCP and UDP in the app’s connection settings. If you’re not sure how to do it, check your provider’s tutorials or ask their support reps.
Try a Wired Connection Instead of WiFi
Using WiFi to watch Netflix anywhere in your home is very convenient and relaxing. But here’s the problem – the strength of the WiFi signal will affect your VPN speeds. If it’s too weak, your speeds will take a serious hit.
For example, we got 100 Mbps speeds while using an OpenVPN connection and being in the same room as the router. But when we went to a different room, our speeds went down to about 10-11 Mbps.
Ouch, a pretty nasty 90% speed loss!
So if you’re getting a low WiFi signal, try connecting your device directly to the router through an ethernet cable. That way, the signal won’t interfere with your speeds anymore. If that’s not possible, try this:
- Watch Netflix on your device in the same room as the router.
- Place the router in the middle of your home so that the WiFi signal is equally strong in all rooms.
- Get a WiFi range extender that rebroadcasts your signal to make it stronger. TP-Link has some excellent options. We have been using this range extender, and have been getting great results in a 1000 square-feet apartment.
Use Split Tunneling
This is a feature that lets you decide which traffic is encrypted by the VPN and which isn’t. Since there’s less data to encrypt and decrypt, it will obviously make your VPN connection faster.
To use this feature correctly, just set it to only encrypt traffic from the browser you’re using to watch Netflix. Of course, you should make sure there are no extra tabs open (especially if you’re using a Chromium browser). They can be real memory hogs.
And if you’re using the Netflix app, use split tunneling to make the VPN only encrypt its traffic.
In our tests, we saw an overall speed increase of 30-40 Mbps when using split tunneling, which is not bad.
Tweak Your Firewall/Antivirus Settings
Sometimes, the antivirus program or operating system firewall can interfere with your VPN connections, slowing them down in the process. Make sure you add the VPN app as an exception in your firewall and antivirus program.
IMPORTANT: Do not turn off your antivirus like some people recommend doing. Only configure it to whitelist the VPN app. A VPN can’t protect you from malware infections, so you really, really need antivirus protection alongside it.
Turn Off Background Applications
If your system doesn’t have enough RAM memory, or it has an older CPU model that’s not too powerful, your VPN speeds will likely go down.
If that’s the case, make sure you turn off any background application you’re not using. For example, you don’t need Steam or your torrent client running in the background while you watch the latest shows on the Netflix app.
Restart Your Modem/Router
Modems and routers are prone to developing memory leaks over time. Those are essentially pointless memory allocations that slow down your online speeds (and, of course, your VPN speeds).
While detecting memory leaks is possible, we say it’s easier to just assume you’re dealing with them. Detecting these leaks involves doing a lot of tech-related stuff (like handling command lines).
Plus, the solution is really simple – just restart the modem or router. We didn’t see any speed improvement on our end when we did that, but we have heard from people who managed to increase their VPN speeds this way. So if none of the tips until now worked for you, give this a try.
While Netflix is an amazing content platform, some of its shows and movies aren’t available in certain countries. Luckily, there’s a very easy way to unblock any Netflix content you want – VPNs. They hide your IP address to hide your real geo-location from Netflix.
ProPrivacy has an excellent guide to the best Netflix VPNs on the market. Click here to find the right one for you.
If you know other ways to unblock Netflix, please tell us about them in the comments.