Often, one of the most asked about features when setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is “what can I stream with it?”. As Netflix claims it will begin the process of cracking down on VPNs for streaming purposes, we at VPN Creative thought this was a better time than ever to publish the quintessential guide with everything you need to know about streaming video content over a VPN, what works, what doesn’t, and how you can get the most out of your online watching experience.
Setting Up the VPN
If you missed our guide last week on how to get set up with your first VPN, be sure to get yourself up to speed before diving into getting your streaming VPN set up.
For a quick refresh, the basics of what you need are a computer with a compatible operating system (either Windows, OSX, or a compatible Linux distribution), a solid Internet connection that can average above 5Mbps on its own, and a subscription to the VPN service of your choosing.
Once all these elements are in place, you can begin the process of getting your VPN activated and live for all the streaming video content you can handle.
Why Do I Need a VPN for Streaming?
Despite all the recent rumblings over Netflix “blocking” VPN connections from logging on to its service, even the company’s own chief product officer admits they’re fighting a losing battle:
“It’s likely to always be a cat-and-mouse game,” said CPO Neil Hunt. “[We] continue to rely on blacklists of VPN exit points maintained by companies that make it their job. Once [VPN providers] are on the blacklist unfortunately, it’s trivial for them to move to a new IP address and evade.”
The reason Netflix has been so gung-ho about eradicating VPNs is that when used properly, a VPN connection gives users the opportunity to access locally-blocked content that might otherwise be available in a different country.
Owing to copyright and the agreements in place between Netflix and movie and TV rights holders, the selection of content you might find on Netflix or Amazon Prime can vary drastically depending on where the service detects you’re connecting from.
Say you want to catch up on the backlog of Sherlock episodes that everyone can’t stop talking about. Sherlock, which is produced by the BBC, is only copyrighted to play in certain countries that Netflix has cleared for the rights to watch in that specific region. When Netflix pays the BBC for those rights, the amount is determined by how many people might be able to watch it once it’s uploaded to the site. This means that if you’re in Denmark and want to view content that’s only available to users connecting from either the UK or the US, you’ll have to use a VPN server located in one of those countries in order for Sherlock to pop up in your queue of available shows.
Every country or region has its own unique library, and in order to get access to everything that Netflix has to offer in its archive at once, a VPN is the only way to be sure you can access everything that’s up to stream.
Not All VPNs Are Ready to Adapt
A big caveat to mention is that while Netflix will struggle to squash out every VPN service on the market, they have already begun the process of vetting IPs that connect from some of the larger providers out there like HideMyAss and ExpressVPN.
As such, you’ll need to be careful when deciding which VPN you ultimately want to go with for the singular purpose of streaming. Although we can’t post the entire list results of who still hasn’t been blacklisted in this tutorial, your best bet is going to be finding the VPN that has the most available servers in the country that has the content you want to watch and reading through their news, blogs, or any press releases that might suggest whether or not their service has been shoved off the Netflix-compatible network of IP addresses yet.
Of course, there are still plenty of other streaming services which are open to even the most notable VPNs out there. Both Amazon Prime and Hulu also participate in the practice of region-blocking specific content based on country-by-country copyright laws. If you want to get a VPN running to stream from either of those sites, a standard VPN service (like HideMyAss or ExpressVPN) should be able to handle the job just fine.
So then, at least in the case of Netflix, getting a VPN prepped for streaming may be a little more complicated than it used to be…but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. We have collected a list of recommended VPN services depending on your needs.
We also recommend you visit the VPN provider you plan on signing up with and read their latest blog posts for updates on using their service for streaming.
By following our VPN guide and carefully vetting your potential provider before taking the plunge, you can be sure that you never miss another episode of Sherlock, Orange is the New Black, or House of Cards again!