NordVPN

5 Best VPNs for Plex That Work in 2017

What is Plex?

Plex is a media player that’s very similar to Kodi. It was developed by altering the source code of an earlier system, called Xbox Media Center (XBMC). Plex’s developers wanted to create a version of XBMC that could run on the Mac OS X operating system. They also developed the Plex media player to run on other operating systems. You can use Plex on PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One and Roku machines. It can also run on mobile devices that have Windows mobile, iOS, or Android operating systems.

In its basic form, Plex organizes all of the media files on your computer. These include music, video, and images. Essentially this system is just a media player, like Windows Media Player or VLC. However, Plex can be expanded by plug-ins to show streaming media from online sources.

No matter which player you use to watch streaming video, you can’t get at that content if the site charges for its entertainment and you don’t have a subscription. Plex can’t get you into paid services for free. Also, like Kodi, your Plex app won’t be able to get you into streaming services that have regional restrictions on them. If you want to access content that is reserved for viewers in another country, you need to appear as though you are in that country. A Virtual Private Network (VPN) can perform that relocation trick for you.

You can learn more about regional restrictions on streaming services and how VPNs get around them further down in this article. For now, let’s take a look at the five best VPNs for Plex.

Quick Links to our 5 best VPNs for Plex

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. VyprVPN
  3. Buffered
  4. NordVPN
  5. IPVanish

Best VPNs for Plex: Summary

*All prices shown in US dollars

Advertiser disclosure

ExpressVPN Homepage

  • ProsPROS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 94 countries
  • Can be loaded on Tomato and DD-WRT routers
  • Fast speeds
  • Gets around all VPN detections systems
  • ConsCONS
  • Only three simultaneous connections allowed
ExpressVPN has an excellent track record for getting into a wide selection of streaming services. This is probably the best VPN service in the world right now. There is just about no VPN detection system that can block it. The detections systems of the Chinese government and those of Sky Go and Netflix are probably the most thorough VPN blocks in operation today. ExpressVPN can get around all of these. When you are streaming content over the internet, you need fast speeds and an unlimited data throughput allowance. ExpressVPN has both of these and can even speed up a slow local internet service, in our experience. It is important to select a VPN server in the same country as the streaming service that you want to get into. This is another reason why ExpressVPN is our top recommendation for Plex, because it has servers in more countries than all of the others on this list.

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VyprVPN Homepage

  • ProsPROS
  • Three-day free trial
  • Servers in 58 countries
  • Allowance of up to five simultaneous connections
  • Proprietary cloaking technology
  • Strict no logs policy
  • ConsCONS
  • Basic plan has weak encryption
VyprVPN is based in Hungary. If you are in the US or the UK, getting a VPN service that is based in another country could be an important benefit for you. This is because some Plex plugins give you access to streaming services that don't pay for the rights to show the content that they have in their libraries. So, you might unwittingly be breaking the law by accessing them. Fortunately, if you use a VPN, no one will know which streaming services you are accessing. No one, that is, except for the VPN company. A key point that you need to look for when choosing a VPN for Plex, therefore, is that it doesn't keep activity logs. That way, if copyright lawyers try to force the VPN company to hand over a record of your connections, there will be no information to give them. VyprVPN keeps no activity logs, and no US or British law firm would go to the expense of trying to navigate through the Hungarian legal system in order to try to force the VPN company to cooperate. This makes VyprVPN an excellent choice for use with Plex.

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Buffered Homepage

  • ProsPROS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Allowance of up to five simultaneous connections
  • Can be loaded onto DD-WRT routers
  • Servers in 37 countries
  • No logs policy
  • ConsCONS
  • Can't get into all streaming services
Buffered is also based in Hungary and has the same strong policy on activity logging. You will be able to hide your activities with this service and be safe from prosecution should you stray onto one of the dodgier Plex plugins. You also get an allowance of five simultaneous connections with Buffered. If you load the client software onto your router, that installation counts as only one of your connection allowance, while providing protection for all of the gadgets in your home. Buffered isn't quite as good at getting past VPN detection systems, so you won't be able to get into Sky Go or Netflix with this service.

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NordVPN Homepage

  • ProsPROS
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in 58 countries
  • No logs policy
  • Allowance of six simultaneous connections
  • Gets into Netflix
  • ConsCONS
  • Customer support can be slow to respond.
NordVPN is based in Panama, which has no data retention laws. The company takes full advantage of the local legal conditions to implement a no logs policy. The service is the cheapest on this list. It gives you an allowance of up to six simultaneous connections. This allowance makes it possible to bring down the cost of using a VPN service even further by sharing an account with friends. Look out for the company's super-cheap, two-year subscription offer. You will have to pay for it upfront, but there is a 30-day money-back guarantee, so you can make sure that the service works well for you before you are fully committed. This service is superb at evading detection and can get into Netflix.

Visit NordVPN »


IPVanish Homepage

  • ProsPROS
  • Seven-day money-back guarantee
  • Servers in more than 60 countries
  • Allowance of five simultaneous connections
  • Fast speeds
  • Unlimited bandwidth
  • ConsCONS
  • Based in the US
IPVanish has a very fast network. When you connect to an overseas streaming service, your ISP passes you on to other networks, because the internet is actually a series of networks linked together. The quality of those networks can vary and a lot of ISPs cut costs by signing agreements with cheaper, slower networks. IPVanish has its own cable backbone and runs its own servers. The company's connection agreements are only with top quality services, so you will find your connection can be a lot faster when you apply the VPN, because all of your traffic will be diverted onto the high-quality, un-congested network of IP Vanish. The company is based in the US, which may present a problem if you get caught out connecting to a pirate streaming service. However, the company states that it keeps no logs at all, so there would be no activity records to hand over to copyright lawyers.

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Regional Streaming Restrictions

Some of the most popular steaming services are associated with real-world TV channels. The BBC in the UK and ABC in the US are two such examples. In other cases, premium cable channels run streaming services as their online versions – like HBO GO and Sky Go. Others don’t have any equivalent TV services at all and simply deliver content over the web. The most well-known of this category is Netflix.

In each case, streaming services have to buy the right to show the entertainment that they stock. In some cases, such as Netflix or the BBC, the owning company of the streaming service is also the production company and owns the show’s rights. An example of this is Game of Thrones, which is owned by HBO. However, even if the streaming company owns the copyright to a show, it still doesn’t want to let everyone in the world access that show from the originator’s website.

Game of Thrones is a great example. HBO has a streaming service, called HBO NOW. You don’t have to subscribe to a home HBO package in order to access this service. However, you do need to subscribe to HBO NOW. There is a catch: you can only subscribe to HBO NOW if you are in the US. This is because HBO sells the rights to show Game of Thrones in other countries. Sky paid HBO for the rights to show it in the UK and Germany, among other locations. Therefore, HBO is obliged to block customers from those locations from watching the show on HBO NOW. Most production companies take this approach to showing and selling the rights to their shows in other countries.

Get Around Local Censorship With a VPN for Plex

Other reasons for regional restrictions lie in local laws and customs. These differ all over the world. Most countries have a national board of censorship. This imposes rules over what type of language and scenes are acceptable for public viewing. When a movie is shown all over the world, its producers have to edit it to comply with these local rules.

Another consideration lies in blasphemy laws, which are closely related to censorship and libel laws. It may be fine to criticize a public figure in one country, but such a criticism may get the production company, broadcasting company and even the actors in legal trouble if viewed in other countries. The legal team of a service has to scour the content of each show to rule out the risk of the company being sued.

The complexities and cost of keeping track of the different laws around the world make it easier for production companies to sell the broadcast rights on a country by country basis. TV channels and streaming services are better equipped to ensure that content is suitable for their own country. This is why restricting access to entertainment on a national basis became the industry standard.

Plex VPN

When you install a VPN, it puts client software on your computer. This is just one half of the whole VPN system. The other half is resident on a remote server. In fact, VPN companies own servers all over the world. When you select a VPN location, the client software and the server work together to hide the traffic that travels between them. Thus, no one can see that you are making a connection to a streaming service until all the messages from that connection are passed between the VPN server and the streaming server.

The VPN server will put its own address on all of the messages that go out to the streaming server. Thus, the streaming server will think that the end client is the VPN server. It doesn’t know about you or where you are. Thus, before you connect to BBC iPlayer to watch a show, you need to set your VPN to use a server in the UK. If you then want to watch CBS, you should switch to a VPN server in the US. In each case, you will appear to be in the home country of the streaming server. This enables you to pass the checks that would otherwise block you from watching the content from abroad.

Internet Throttling

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) don’t like streaming services. They use up a lot of bandwidth and force up costs. Therefore, ISPs selectively reduce the speed of service allocated to specific types of apps. Gaming, streaming, and downloading in particular are subjected to this treatment.

You may wonder why the playback of a movie from a streaming service is so slow, when you have high speeds on your internet service agreement. However, the company will maintain those high speeds for all other applications, thus keeping to its agreements. If you read your contract carefully, you will probably notice that the ISP is not obliged to maintain that level of service for all applications at all times.

This selective slowing of specific types of traffic is called throttling. It is a practice that is difficult for the customer to prove, and your service contract probably permits it. As a VPN masks the true destination of the traffic that comes out of your computer, ISPs are unable to apply the programs that selectively divert streaming traffic onto slower lines. Thus, you will improve the speed of delivery of video over Plex if you use a VPN.

Best VPNs for Plex: Conclusion

There is one more layer of protection that most streaming services employ: VPN blocking. Because of these VPN detection systems, not every VPN service can get you into all of the streaming services that you want to access. The process of evading these detection systems is expensive and time consuming, which means free VPN services don’t have the resources to get you into the media sites you want to visit.

Only the best VPNs have the ability to get around all of the regional restrictions that you will encounter when using your Plex app. The five services listed in this review are the best of the best. Any one of them will serve you well as a VPN for Plex.

*All prices shown in US dollars

Advertiser disclosure


Stephen Cooper Stephen Cooper is a techy geek with a social edge. Downshifting from a successful IT career in Europe, Cooper moved to the Caribbean and now keeps up to speed with Internet technology poolside.

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