The VPN has become one of the most popular online services to subscribe to in the last few years and one of the many reasons is Netflix. The way Netflix runs its business has created a unique quirk which means using a VPN can vastly increase the value you can get from it.
The logistical nightmare of managing global content licenses has meant that Netflix offers different content in each of the 190 countries it's available in. Obviously there are plenty of crossovers – Netflix Original shows and movies are available exclusively on every version of Netflix in any territory – but inevitably whichever country you log in from you'll find a range different content available to you.
The way these content licenses work means that if you're from the UK and went on holiday to Australia, you might expect that you'd be able to take your UK account with you and still watch the same stuff. But Netflix might not have those licenses in Australia. That means that if you log in from Australia, no matter where your account is registered to, you'll see the same content as anyone subscribing in Australia.
Netflix has promised to ensure in the future that you can take your proper account with you but for the time being that's not possible. The way around this is that you can use a VPN to change your IP address, making Netflix servers think you're in another country and thus access that country's Netflix content.
How to use a VPN for Netflix
To use your VPN for watching Netflix, simply open the app on the device you're going to watch from – whether that's your Fire TV Stick, laptop, Mac, phone, tablet or games console – and select a server in the country you want to 'watch from'. Sometimes this can be hit and miss so if it doesn't work first time, you should try another server in the same country.
The truth is that Netflix would probably happy to simply allow this to happen but the content licence holders and publishers absolutely do not want you to be able to do this and so Netflix is being forced to wage a bit of a war on VPN use.
Every now and then, once a VPN server or IP address has been identified, it'll be impossible to 'trick' the Netflix servers by using it. This not only makes VPNs for Netflix less useful and more frustrating than they used to be, it also means that if you're going to sign up to a VPN for Netflix you need to make sure you sign up to the right one.
What that means in practise is signing up to one of the big services which can afford to constantly set up new servers, cycle and refresh IP addresses and generally thwart any efforts to neutralise their effectiveness. So going for one of the cheapo VPN services isn't advised for this use, then – so with that in mind, here are our top recommendations for the best VPN services for use with Netflix.
Express VPN is the best all-round VPN service and great for Netflix
Reasons to buy
ExpressVPN is our top recommendation as the best VPN for Netflix in 2018. It's the Apple of VPN services – that is, it's premium and has deep pockets! That means it can afford to duel with those people at Netflix who would deny you the ability to hop between locations. When we tested, for example, we found that the some locations were recognised and 'blocked' while others work - luckily Express VPN has 24/7 customer support so they will always be on hand to point you towards the best method. But the Washington servers worked just fine – so sometimes there is a bit of trial and error. But the good thing is that the VPN services are motivated to keep things fresh so you're able to do what you want, otherwise you wouldn't keep subscribing. ExpressVPN allows you three live connections at a time, as well, which means you could have one person watching Netflix US, one watching Netflix Canada and another watching Netflix UK all at the same time using the same account. The apps are also super easy to use so you won't find yourself confused at any point – it really is very straightforward. ExpressVPN offers a 30-day money back guarantee so you can give it a try and cancel, no questions asked, if you have second thoughts or if you aren't happy with the service.
The most secure VPN for watching Netflix
Reasons to buy
NordVPN is one of the very best overall VPN services in 2018. Not only is it probably the most secure VPN out there but comes with an automatic kill switch, dedicated IP addresses, strong DNS leak protection and the ability to pay in Bitcoin. It'll also allow you to connect up to six devices at a time which is great for a student house or a family of international Netflix addicts.
A reliable VPN service that works great with Netflix
Reasons to buy
VyprVPN only guarantees it'll work for dialling in to Netflix US from other countries but as with all the VPN services in this list you'll almost always have more luck than that. In our test we were able to hop between Netflix destinations pretty easily but the fact that only the US is guaranteed does mean that could change in the future. The good news is that Vypr VPN has a three day trial which means you can easily get access to it and give it a trial run to make sure it's going to do the job you want. It's also really great value – particularly if you pay for a year in advance.