Ray Walsh

Ray Walsh

July 13, 2018

If Netflix is blocking your VPN, it is probably because Netflix has figured out you are using one. Remember, your internet service provider assigns you a unique public IP address. When a Netflix subscriber connects to their account under normal conditions, they are the only person accessing the service from that IP address. 

When large numbers of people around the world connect from a single IP address, alarm bells start ringing at Netflix HQ. “Why are so many different Netflix accounts logging in from one IP address?” Netflix asks. 

Unless a VPN provider manages its pool of IP addresses effectively, it is likely that hundreds of people will attempt to watch Netflix from the same IP. This makes it too easy for Netflix to spot VPN use and block the questionable IP or pool of IPs.

Most VPN services do not invest enough time or money in keeping their VPN one step ahead of Netflix. For this reason, the vast majority of VPN IP addresses have been discovered and blocked by Netflix. Those VPNs no longer function for the purpose of unblocking Netflix – and haven’t for quite some time.

GeoIP: How Netflix Blocks VPN services

GeoIP databases are another way that Netflix block VPN services. These databases are created by companies such as MaxMind. MaxMind makes it its business to figure out everything it can about IP addresses. It searches for details such as the location of an IP, whether it is a commercial IP or a residential IP, or if it is a proxy or VPN server. 

Those kinds of firms then sell that data to third parties – including Netflix. Netflix is known to use these databases to regularly bolster its efforts to blacklist all known VPN IP addresses. 

My VPN usually unblocks Netflix US – but it has stopped

If your VPN usually provides access to Netflix then there is no need to panic if it stops working. Unblocking Netflix with a VPN has become a game of cat and mouse, but the very best providers are making it their mission to stay one step ahead. Unfortunately, the situation is fluid, and – for the reasons mentioned above – there are bound to be times when your VPN loses access to Netflix.

If you have been using the same server to connect to Netflix for some time (weeks or months) and it suddenly stops working, this means that Netflix has figured out that it belongs to a VPN. Sadly, as soon as that particular IP address is blocked it will no longer work. However, that does not necessarily mean your VPN has lost its battle against Netflix.

In fact, your VPN has probably been preparing for this day – and has likely already set up a number of other IP addresses – that are waiting on standby to unblock Netflix. Some VPN providers are more on the ball when it comes to finding new ways to unblock Netflix than others. 

For VPNs that really have their finger on the pulse when it comes to Netflix, check out our VPNs for unblocking Netflix guide. 

Keep reading to find out some other steps you can try if your VPN has stopped working with Netflix.

What to do: Troubleshooting guide

If your VPN stops unblocking Netflix, the best thing to do is to try another server located in the country where you need it. If your VPN provider has a server that is marked “Netflix” or “streaming” – try that first. If, after attempting to, you still can’t find a server that works you will need to contact customer support directly.

The best Netflix VPNs have 24/7 support agents who are always happy to direct you to a server that works. 

Update your browser’s geo-location data

Another possible problem is that your browser is leaking geo-location data to Netflix. If, for example, your VPN is telling Netflix that you are in Los Angeles – but Chrome is telling Netflix that you are in Dubai – this could cause Netflix to show you the proxy error message.

Thus, if you are connected to a VPN server that your provider says is definitely working – but you still can’t access Netflix – you should try updating your browser’s geo-location data.

Clear your cookies

Another possibility is that there are cookies left on your machine that are telling Netflix where you are. Try clearing your cookies to give your browser a refresh. This will give your VPN the best chance of functioning properly.

Fix your DNS leaks

Another possibility is that you are suffering from DNS leaks. DNS leaks will tell Netflix where you really are, even when you use a VPN to conceal your IP address.

On the whole, VPNs that are known to unblock Netflix do not suffer from DNS leaks. All the best VPNs for Netflix that we recommend have DNS leak protection. However, if you are using a different VPN (that is supposed to work for unblocking Netflix) it is possible that you may need to fix a DNS leak problem.

WebRTC leaks

Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) is a collection of technologies that allows web browsers to communicate directly with each other directly without the need for an intermediate server. This can improve the performance for web apps like video chat, file transfer, and live streaming.

In order for two devices to talk to each other directly via WebRTC, they need to know each other’s real IP addresses. Netflix could, therefore, exploit the WebRTC in your browser to detect your real IP address and block you from their service.

In Firefox, it is very easy to disable WebRTC altogether. In Chrome, plugging a WebRTC leak is as easy as installing an extension called Easy WebRTC Block. Using that extension will stop Chrome from leaking location data to Netflix via the WebRTC leak. If you are worried about WebRTC leaks please be sure to read our guide linked above.

Get a dedicated IP address

Dedicated VPN IPs can actually work in one of two ways. The most common description of a dedicated IP is an IP address that is reserved for use by one customer only. This kind of VPN IP address is usually purchased as an extra or “add-on”.

However, one VPN that provides access to Netflix (PrivateVPN) actually provides dynamic dedicated IPs every time their subscribers connect to a server using the default encryption option (OpenVPN TUN+UDP+1194). This is a fantastic workaround, that explains how Private are often able to stay ahead of Netflix VPN blocks – a testament to their commitment, and the value for money of the service!

The best thing about this kind of dedicated IP address is that – because only you can use it – it appears to be a normal residential IP. This makes it almost impossible for Netflix to detect and block it.

For more information, check out our guide to VPNs with static IPs.

Service “dedicated” IP

Some VPNs also use the term “dedicated IP” to describe an IP address that is dedicated to one task (such as unblocking Netflix). PureVPN, for example, does this (yes it can be a bit confusing). VPNs understand that if too many people use the same IP address, Netflix will figure it out.

For this reason, some VPNs setup a large number of IPs that are “dedicated” to providing access to Netflix. The VPN only hands over each IP to a handful of customers, reducing the number of people accessing Netflix from a single IP address. This method isn’t foolproof, but it increases the VPN’s chance of survival.

Overall, a dedicated IP (for your use only) is going to be the best solution for accessing Netflix from overseas; however, you will need to pay a little extra for this service.

Roll your own server

Another method for getting unrestricted access to a foreign Netflix catalog is to build your own VPN server. This will provide you access to a dedicated IP address (for your use only) in the country where you need it.

This isn’t going to be for everyone, because it is much more involved than simply subscribing to a commercial VPN service. However, if it is something you are interested in please check out our guide to roll your own OpenVPN server on VPS.

Conclusion

On the whole, there is not much you can do client-side about your loss of access to Netflix. so, when Netflix blocks your VPN,  it is up to your VPN provider to restore access.

Your first action should be to try and connect to a different server in the country where you need it. If that fails, you will need to contact your VPN’s customer support directly for a fix.

At BestVPN.com, we test VPNs everyday to ensure they are working with popular streaming services such as Netflix. To see our recommendations for VPNs that can effectively unblock Netflix, check out our Best VPN for Netflix guide.

Title image credit: r.classen/Shutterstock.com

Image credits: Imilian/Shutterstock.com, WEB-DESIGN/Shutterstock.com, Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Ray Walsh
July 18th, 2018

Ray Walsh is one of BestVPN's resident VPN experts. Ray is currently ranked #2 VPN authority in the world by agilience.com. During his time at BestVPN.com Ray has reviewed some of the world's foremost VPNs. Ray is an advocate for digital privacy, with vast experience writing about the political and social aspects of infosec, cybersec, and data privacy. Find him @newsglug on Twitter.

3 responses to “How to stop Netflix blocking your VPN service – Troubleshooting Guide

  1. These are great ideas, Ray. However, well known vpns usually still get blocked pretty fast solely due to the user amount that connects through their servers. I do use one of your advised vpns on my daily basis but the only vpn that always works with netflix for me is surfshark. They don’t have that many users I guess but that solves the issue. Love ’em for that.

    1. Yes, we are aware that the vast majority of VPNs do not work to unblock Netflix. Our 5 best VPNs for Netflix article, however, only includes VPNs that do unblock Netflix. While we understand that the above methods might not work to unblock Netflix in all cases, we have included all possible methods of troubleshooting a Netflix VPN just in case they come in handy for someone. The best bet remains to stick to a recommended Netflix VPN from our best 5 list, as these are known to keep providing access to the US catalog.

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