Private Internet Access Netflix Blocked Workaround
“Whoops, something went wrong…Streaming Error. You seem to be using an unblocker or proxy. Please turn off any of these services and try again.”
UGH! This is what you definitely don’t want to see displayed when you’re in the mood to settle in and do a bit of Netflix bingeing.
While a Virtual Private Network (VPN) continues to be a practical way to unblock Netflix, many VPN providers no longer claim Netflix compatibility, due to Netflix blocking their IP addresses.
Private Internet Access (PIA) was previously a reliable way to access Netflix in other countries, but eventually grew tired of the chess game with Netflix and now no longer offers Netflix unblocking. So, what can you do if you’re a PIA user?
How Netflix Blocks a VPN Provider
VPN users make use of their encrypted connections for many reasons, including privacy and for accessing content in other countries. Many users simply keep their VPN turned on whenever they’re online no matter what they’re doing, be it browsing Amazon, checking their bank balances or viewing streaming video from providers, such as Netflix.
When a VPN customer connects to their VPN provider of choice, the user is assigned a new IP address. The VPN-assigned IP address is shared by other customers of the same VPN provider.
IP address-sharing allows for two things: economy of use and protection of your anonymity (due to other users’ activity coming through that same address).
However, that same shared IP address makes it easy for Netflix and other streaming services to detect when a viewer is accessing their servers via a VPN provider. Netflix can then block that particular address from accessing their servers, which results in the VPN’s users no longer being able to access their favorite movies and television show episodes.
Once customers begin to complain about no longer being able to access Netflix via a particular server or servers, the VPN provider checks to make sure the address(es) have been blocked and sets up a group of new IP addresses allowing their users to once again view Netflix content.
Then, Netflix discovers the fresh IP addresses, blocks them, and the whole vicious cycle begins anew.
While this may be aggravating, Netflix is within their rights in doing this. The video-streaming provider has contracts with content providers, such as movie and television studios, which require them to stream the licensed content only in certain geographical areas.
This results in situations where your favorite movie might be available for viewing in the United States, but not in the United Kingdom.
Before January 2016, I’d hazard to say that most VPN services would have done a good job of unblocking geographical restrictions on Netflix’s streaming content.
However, when Netflix began blocking VPN and proxy service customers from accessing their servers, many VPN providers, Private Internet Access included, began to believe they might be fighting a losing battle.
Over the last few years, many VPN providers have pulled their claims of Netflix-unblocking support from the features page of their websites. It makes sense that a bargain-basement provider like Private Internet Access might not have the resources available to continue the chess game between itself and Netflix.
However, there are still some VPN providers that are willing and able to continue waging battle against the Netflix blockade.
Best Blocked-Netflix Workaround: ExpressVPN
One VPN provider that continues to promote and offer reliable access to blocked Netflix content is ExpressVPN.
Global Server Coverage
ExpressVPN has over 1,500 VPN servers located in 94 countries, providing an excellent way to access geo-blocked content - such as that offered by Netflix - around the globe.
In addition to comprehensive global server coverage, ExpressVPN offers top-notch connection speeds, coming in at nearly 84% as fast as my usual ISP speeds. This should provide more than enough horsepower to easily stream Netflix content - even 4K HDR content - to your heart’s content. (Depending on how fast your usual ISP speeds are, of course.)
ExpressVPN also supplies excellent privacy protections, keeping no user activity logs of any kind. The provider never logs browsing history, destinations visited, accessed data content, IP addresses or DNS queries. Therefore, they do not know where you traveled, or what your online activities were while you were connected to their VPN servers.
In addition, this provider accepts Bitcoin as payment for their services. Bitcoin is arguably the most privacy-friendly online payment service available today, completely protecting the identity of the Bitcoin user.
As Netflix is available on most popular computer, mobile device, set-top box and gaming console platforms, multi-platform support is an important consideration for any VPN provider. ExpressVPN provides native apps for the Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and Linux platforms. Plus, the provider allows up to 3 simultaneous connections under one account.
Also available from the provider are browser extensions for the Chrome, Firefox and Safari browser platforms.
Playstation (3 and 4), Xbox (360 and One), Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV owners can make use of ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer service, which enables access to blocked content without the need for a full-blown VPN connection.
Users looking to protect every connected device in their home or small business can also use ExpressVPN with their router, thereby protecting the internet connection of every device that connects to the router.
Router support includes Linksys, Asus, D-Link, TP-Link and a number of other popular router makes and models. In addition, ready-to-go routers can be purchased from FlashRouters.com.
While I wouldn’t wish technical or billing issues on any of my readers, it’s entirely possible you’ll need to contact your VPN provider’s customer support department at one time or another. When an issue does arise, you’ll want to feel confident that you’ll receive a prompt, informed response to your support inquiry.
ExpressVPN offers customer support that is some of the best in the VPN industry. The company offers 3 types of support to its customers, including online support text chat, a trouble ticket submission form and an easy-to-search support library.
I always receive quick and informed responses whenever I have questions, and the support library is an excellent resource for “do-it-yourself” answer searches.
ExpressVPN is definitely not a value-priced VPN provider, but they do offer a high-quality service for the money.
A month-to-month subscription will run you $12.95 per month, but savings can be had with a 6-month or a 12-month subscription commitment, running you $9.99 per month (paid up front at $59.95) or $8.32 per month ($99.95 up front), respectively.
My experience with ExpressVPN in unblocking Netflix’s geographical content was mostly positive. However, it was not trouble-free. Occasionally, a VPN server that worked well in accessing a foreign Netflix streaming server would suddenly stop working (likely due to Netflix having discovered the IP was being used by a VPN provider.)
When I was met with such a failure, I was many times able to simply disconnect and then reconnect to the same server, thereby securing a different virtual IP address, which apparently hadn’t as yet been outed as a VPN address.
In some cases, I needed to select an entirely different VPN server location, but the majority of times, the disconnect-then-reconnect-to-the-same-server trick worked just fine.
There’s no telling how long ExpressVPN will continue to be a reliable way of unblocking Netflix servers, but as of this writing, they are still fighting the good fight and stay firmly engaged in the IP address chess game.