You settle in for a bit of Netflix, turn on your Smart TV, make sure your router is protected by your VPN provider of choice and click to watch “Finding Dory” for the 63rd time. (You know you love it!)
Instead of a cute, absent-minded regal tang fish, you instead see the following on your television screen: “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.”
Crap! Netflix has blocked your favorite VPN server from accessing their service – again!
VPN users are now, in great numbers, finding that their VPN provider, which did offer reliable access to international Netflix streams, is now failing to do so. Now “finding Dory” is tougher than ever.
While VPN provider TorGuard has done an admirable job of unlocking foreign Netflix content in the past, users are finding that they need to either get a dedicated IP address through the provider (which doesn’t even allow torrenting) or look elsewhere for their Netflix needs.
TorGuard not working with Netflix? Try this...
TorGuard offers a 7-day money-back guarantee, so it’s nice and easy to switch to ExpressVPN (which I think is the best VPN provider for unblocking Netflix).
I’ve tested a lot of VPNs and I find Express reliably works to unblock Netflix US, UK, AUS, CA, FR, IT, JP, DE and others. It’s really fast as well so you can binge in HD without the buffering.
ExpressVPN has a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk-free.
How Netflix Blocks a VPN Provider
For a large number of VPN users, they’ve found that although they may have had one particular use in mind for their VPN subscription, the encrypted connection is good for a number of online uses. This usually leads to automatically connecting to their VPN provider whenever they’re online.
When a VPN user loads the VPN app on their computer or mobile device and presses the “Connect” button, their internet connection is routed through a VPN server.
That server encrypts their connection to hide it from prying eyes, and also give the connection a new IP address. The new IP address makes the user appear to be in another location, be it across town or on the other side of the globe.
VPN providers connect a large number of their customers through the same VPN server, which results in those users sharing the same VPN-provided IP address. This means that a large number of VPN users’ connections all share a much smaller number of IP addresses.
This provides an extra layer of protection for the VPN users, as the online activities of multiple users are all being channeled through the same IP address, making it nigh impossible to trace any online activities back to a single user. However, this same feature makes it easier for online services like Netflix to detect when a user is connecting to their content via a VPN service.
There is a negative side, though. This makes it easier for a content provider like Netflix to detect when their viewers are using a VPN to access their servers.
If Netflix network administrators notice a number of connections coming from the same IP address (and they do notice), they’ll do a bit of investigating. Once Netflix confirms that the multiple connections are coming from an IP address owned by a VPN provider, they will ban that IP from connecting to their service. Your screen goes black.
Once Netflix blocks a VPN server’s IP address, VPN users who made use of that address will need to either search for a new server that works, or they can also complain to their provider’s customer support department.
When enough users complain about a certain IP address no longer allowing access to Netflix, most VPN providers will then set up a new range of IP addresses for the affected server. Users can once again access Netflix – at least until Netflix notices all of the traffic coming from that new address, which they then ban, and the whole vicious cycle starts anew.
Netflix is within its rights to ban users located outside of their normal service areas from accessing their service. The streaming provider has a set of rules it must follow.
Netflix’s contracts with movie and television studios specify that content should only be made available to users that are in areas specifically designated in the contracts. If Netflix doesn’t make an effort to ensure this, they could be in for a legal battle – against movie studio lawyers. EW!
It’s easy to see how some VPN providers, especially smaller providers that don’t have the resources or server numbers to offer large numbers of connections, would give up after playing the game above for awhile.
Luckily, there are VPN providers that keep plugging away, so you can keep looking for Dory. And Nemo, too – has anyone seen Nemo lately?
The Best Alternative When TorGuard Fails
Netflix announced in January 2016 that they would yield to pressure from their content suppliers and begin actively blocking connections from VPN and proxy users. As mentioned earlier, this caused a large number of VPN providers to give up maintaining access to Netflix.
However, many other providers, including the one I’m about to tell you about, continue to fight the good fight, attempting to keep Netflix as a valuable feature of their offerings.
ExpressVPN is still hanging in there, quickly setting up new IP addresses to replace those discovered by Netflix. (For a full review of ExpressVPN, click here.) So, while customers of this VPN service may occasionally need to disconnect and reconnect a few times to grab a new IP address, they can be reasonably sure they’ll find an address that works.
Global Server Coverage
A VPN is a marvelous tool for prying open access to international content that might normally be closed off in your area. With 1,500+ servers located in 94 countries around the globe, this provider is a great way to gain access to streaming music and video, as well as gaming servers that are usually inaccessible to you.
Sure, those 1,500 VPN servers we discussed above make it easy to unlock streaming video and gaming servers, but what good is it if a slow connection keeps you waiting while video buffers, or the connection lags and you get blown away while you’re waiting for the playing field to refresh in a game?
ExpressVPN regularly supplies speeds that come within 16% or so of my usual, ISP-supplied speeds. That’s more than fast enough for me to enjoy 1080p or 4K HDR content with little to no buffering. And when it comes to online gaming, I can react quickly when that sniper tries to pick me off. GOT HIM!
British Virgin Islands-based ExpressVPN takes full advantage of its home country’s privacy-friendly laws relating to user logs (it doesn’t require any to be kept). That means that even if law enforcement or a film studio lawyer came to the door, subpoena in hand, there would be nothing to turn over.
The provider has your privacy covered when it comes to subscription payment options too, as it happily accepts the privacy-friendly Bitcoin cryptocurrency as payment for its services.
I’m fairly certain that Netflix is available on almost every connected device available today. It just might take less time to list the devices it isn’t available on than the devices that it is available on.
ExpressVPN has the majority of the popular Netflix-compatible devices covered, with native apps for the macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android platforms. In addition, they also make available browser extensions for the Safari, Chrome and Firefox browser platforms.
ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer service offers international Netflix streaming to users of PlayStation (3 and 4) and Xbox (360 and One) gaming consoles, as well as Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV viewers.
While the provider allows up to 3 concurrent connections to their service using the same login, you can cover every connected device in your home or small business by using the VPN with a large number of wireless router makes and models. If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, you can buy a pre-configured router from FlashRouters.com.
I hope your VPN-protected travels on the web always go smoothly, with no connection issues or billing problems. However, it’s more likely that you will have to contact your VPN provider’s customer support agents with an occasional support-related inquiry. When that happens, you want to know they’ll be there for you.
ExpressVPN provides excellent support to its users, offering live support chat, a trouble ticket submission form and an easy-to-search support library.
I’ve always had a pleasant experience when contacting ExpressVPN’s support agents, receiving prompt and knowledgeable answers. I also like doing a bit of digging for answers on my own from time to time, and I have always been able to find helpful information in this manner.
While bargain hunters might immediately look elsewhere when they see ExpressVPN’s subscription pricing, it should be noted that the provider offers a top-notch level of service for the price.
Users opting for a month-to-month subscription plan will pay $12.95 per month. A better deal is to be had by those willing to commit to a 6-month or a 12-month subscription. The extended options will run you $9.99 per month ($59.95 every 6 months) or $8.32 per month ($99.95 paid annually), respectively.
A 30-day money-back guarantee offers users a more-than-sufficient time period to decide if ExpressVPN is the service for them.
Plan 9 from Internet Space
When your TorGuard VPN is staggering around like Tor Johnson in “Plan 9 from Outer Space” when it’s looking for a way to access Netflix content in another country, give ExpressVPN a try. The provider offers a reliable way to unblock the geographical barriers erected by Netflix and its content suppliers.
ExpressVPN also provides fast, protected connection speeds and global server coverage sufficient to unblock most other content in the free world. Their privacy protections and customer support are second to none.
There is no guarantee as to how long ExpressVPN will continue to fight the good fight in the IP address game of Whack-a-Mole between it and Netflix, but for now, the VPN service is one of the most reliable ways to access blocked Netflix video streams.