Last updated January 10, 2017.
If you’ve been left frustrated by the dreaded Netflix proxy error message then your not alone and thankfully there is a workaround. Ever since Netflix implemented its overseas VPN ban–preventing customers from accessing its US, UK, and Canadian show catalogs from abroad–VPN providers and users alike have been scrambling for a solution.
When connected to most VPNs, Netflix gives the following error, accompanied by error code m7111-1331-5059:
“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.”
The battle between Netflix, customers, and VPN providers rages on and viable alternatives are still very much in flux. VPN providers are engaged in a game of cat-and-mouse with Netflix. A server that works today may get blocked tomorrow, while a new servers and IPs are constantly being added.
That said, we’ve come up with a list of VPN providers that offer some means of bypassing Netlix’s proxy error message. Many of them require contacting customer service for a fix. Some only work when watching in a web browser, and not with the native Netflix app. Here are our top picks for the best VPNs to use with Netflix last tested in January 2017.
Our preferred option. Speeds are fast, stable, and every subscription comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it risk free (Update, September 14, 2016: ExpressVPN are offering our readers’ 3 months extra free with 12 month plans in addition to their money back guarantee – details via the link above). ExpressVPN does indeed bypass the Netflix ban on a couple server locations . These servers may change over time and we don’t want to draw undue attention to them, suffice to say they do stream video from US Netflix in good quality from out of country. We recommend subscribers hop on the 24/7 live chat support available on the ExpressVPN website and ask what servers to use. We got a response in about two minutes! Best of all, ExpressVPN is one of only two providers on this list that works with the Netflix iOS and Android apps. That means you can watch US Netflix on an iPhone, iPad, Android smartphone, or Android tablet.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
A test using US servers on Buffered’s network confirms US Netflix does stream from out of country. Some previous angry tweets at the company suggest otherwise, but Buffered seems to be functioning well now. For further peace of mind that Netflix will work, Buffered is currently offering a 30 day money back guarantee here. It’s worth noting that Buffered works well in a web browser but not on mobile devices using the Netflix App.
All but two US servers–Miami and Atlanta–bypass the Netflix proxy error when using StrongVPN. This is a particularly good option for Netflix customers in China, as StrongVPN has long been a top choice among expats there and caters well to them. You can also watch Dutch and UK Netflix using StrongVPN from outside of Holland and the UK, respectively. The only downside is that OpenVPN won’t work. We were instructed to use PPTP, which is not a secure protocol, but SSTP also worked when we tested it. At the time of writing, StrongVPN offers a 5-day money-back guarantee and 41% off their 12 month package as standard, there’s a further 15% saving on all plans here and by applying the discount code ‘SAVE15’ at checkout. If you’re happy accessing Netflix via a web browser and don’t need it on a mobile device StrongVPN is a good choice.
NordVPN has informed us it offers Netflix-optimized servers that do not require any special configuration on the customer’s side. In our testing, even the servers that say they work with Netflix in the app might get blocked, anyway. You can find out which servers work with Netflix on this help page or by contacting customer support. There you’ll find how to use NordVPN to watch US Netflix in a browser, on iOS and Android, and on a router. Update, December 9, 2016: NordVPN is running a deal here, which discounts 2 years’ access by a huge 72%, bringing the cost down to $3.29 per month. The coupon code is automatically added to the bottom of the checkout page with the above link.
VyprVPN now works with US Netflix again after a brief hiatus. We were able to log in and stream without any issues from a US server as we normally would without any configuration changes from the default OpenVPN setup. Not all servers work, but some do. VyprVPN are currently running an offer with a 3 day free trial and 50% off the first month here. VyprVPN works with Netflix in a browser but not with the mobile app. If you want to view Netflix on a mobile or tablet, we recommend ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
LiquidVPN skirted the Netflix firewall without issue when connected to US servers in our testing, even though it doesn’t officially claim to do so. Fast speeds ensure high quality streaming without buffering. The apps are novice-friendly and come packed with some great security features, including both static, dynamic, and modulating IP addresses. Update, November 18, 2016: We’ve had a few comments that LiquidVPN is not working with Netflix, if you contact their customer support they are usually quick at resolving any issues and can direct you to the best servers to use. Some of these issues are due to Netflix only working in a browser and not via the mobile app with LiquidVPN. If you want to view Netflix on a mobile or tablet ExpressVPN is your best bet since this isn’t supported by LiquidVPN.
Read our full review of LiquidVPN here.
VPNs and Smart DNS providers that DO NOT work with Netflix
As of July 5, 2016, like most smart DNS services, IronSocket is now struggling with the Netflix ban and will only work on certain devices, if it all. We recommend opting for one of the VPNs listed above instead.
As of July 5, 2016, Unblock-Us says it will not work on all devices. We’re recommending users go for one of the VPNs listed in this article instead since they have, on the most part, consistently worked during our testing. Update, November 17, 2016: Unblock-Us is now working with Netflix. We have tested this and can confirm that Unblock-Us is evading the Netflix Ban although it won’t work with the Netflix App on mobile devices.
As of July 4, 2016, Unlocator is not working with Netflix anymore. We’ve have official confirmation from the company that Unlocator is blocked by Netflix. We understand a solution is being worked on but were not given a date for when this will be available.
Private Internet Access
PIA has said it does not officially support circumventing geoblocks, and it does not currently work with Netflix.
Users report that HMA is blocked by US Netflix and has not been able to offer a permanent solution.
PureVPN has informed us directly that is does not support unblocking.
IPVanish has recently given up the fight against Netflix and has informed us it no longer can bypass the firewall. IPVanish may not work with Netflix but is a very popular choice for torrenting, due to its fast speeds and zero log policy. With a growing number of customers frustrated by the Netflix VPN ban, more and more are turning to torrenting.
Why do these VPNs work when others don’t?
Netflix usually blocks VPN users by their IP address. Most VPNs use shared IPs, which means hundreds of users are assigned to the same IP. This improves anonymity for users, but makes it pretty apparent to Netflix which IPs belong to VPN servers.
Alternatively, Netflix could have some network monitoring tools in place that detect VPN protocols.
A VPN can bypass Netflix’s firewall for one of two reasons. The first is that the VPN’s subscriber base is relatively small, so Netflix simply ignores its IP addresses. The second is that Netflix cannot detect the VPN due to some sort of obfuscation, which makes VPN traffic look like normal user traffic. The IP of that server might change periodically, which makes it difficult for Netflix to pin down.
Why do we advocate for using a VPN with Netflix?
A VPN is not simply a proxy tool to fool apps and websites into thinking the user is somewhere they are not. VPNs are in everyone’s best interest when it comes to privacy. We wholeheartedly recommend everyone use a VPN, whether they are a Netflix subscriber or not.
Netflix’s VPN ban is a blunt instrument put in place to appease copyright holders. It blocks VPN users no matter where they are located so long as a proxy is detected. This is not a fair policy to paying subscribers. Forcing users to turn off their VPNs could sacrifice privacy, especially those connected on unsecured wifi networks or traveling abroad to surveillance-heavy countries.
You have the right to use the VPN, and Netflix should respect that right by not forcing users to make the choice between privacy and entertainment.
I’m travelling and want to access US Netflix Abroad, which countries will these VPNs work in?
The VPN services listed should allow you to unblock US Netflix in any country you might be traveling to, other than those where media is censored and VPNs are actively blocked by a firewall such as China (see our list of the VPNs working in China and pick one that works there, too). In pretty much every other country, the VPNs in our list will work. In fact, we’ve received comments or emails from people in Canada, the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, France, Israel, Spain, Ireland, South Africa, and Italy telling us they’ve successfully accessed US Netflix!
How to unblock the Netflix app by setting up the VPN on a router
When using a browser such as Chrome or Firefox, any of the VPNs recommended above should allow you to watch American Netflix without any issues. Both traffic and DNS requests are sent through the VPN, preventing Netflix from determining your true location.
When using a Netflix native app, however, the app can override the DNS routing used by a VPN and send requests to your nearest public DNS server. This means Netflix can determine the user’s true location and block them accordingly, even with a VPN app switched on. ExpressVPN and NordVPN have figured out how to overcome this behavior, so they both work with the iOS and Android Netflix apps so this won’t be a problem for if you are using one of these two VPNs.
ExpressVPN and NordVPN will unblock the Netflix app on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. But other devices–Roku, Chromecast, smart TVs, game consoles, Fire TV, etc–do not support any VPNs. As such, even ExpressVPN and NordVPN have no apps for them. For those devices, you need to configure a router or buy a pre-configured one.
For the VPNs that don’t unblock Netflix on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, router configuration is also the best alternative.
The VPN must be set up on the wifi router that your device is connected to. This process varies depending on your router’s firmware, and you may have to flash a new firmware onto the router that supports VPNs (Tomato or DD-WRT). You can usually find router setup instructions and configuration details on your provider’s website.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing all that, ExpressVPN sells pre-configured routers and also offers free router firmware that can be installed on select routers. You can simply buy a router or flash the free firmware onto a compatible router and save yourself the hassle of a complicated procedure. This should unblock Netflix on any device.
Once the VPN is set up, you’ll also need to configure your firewall to forward DNS queries to our DNS servers (or whatever DNS servers the VPN service in question uses to bypass the Netflix ban). Again, look to your provider for instructions on how to accomplish this.
Netflix app vs Netflix in a web browser
A VPN that unblocks Netflix in a web browser might not unblock the Netflix app on your mobile device, set-top box, or smart TV. That’s because a web browser must use the DNS servers specified by the operating system. Most VPN apps take care of this for you and route all DNS requests to their own in-house DNS servers, which ensures that DNS requests match the location of your VPN server.
The Netflix app, however, can override a device’s DNS settings and force DNS requests to be sent to either a public DNS nameserver or the default ISP’s nameserver. This results in a mismatch between where the user’s IP address is located and where their DNS requests come from. That’s a red flag indicating the viewer is using a VPN or some other type of proxy, resulting in the dreaded proxy error message.
Unblocking Netflix on Apple TV
Apple TV does not have built-in support for VPNs, which means you’ll need some other means of routing traffic through the VPN. There are three options we know of:
- Connect to a VPN on your iPhone or iPad, then stream Netflix on your device and cast it to Apple TV using Airplay. This isn’t exactly the same as just watching Netflix on your Apple TV, but it works so long as you’re using one of the two VPNs we’ve confirmed work with the Netflix app: ExpressVPN or NordVPN.
- Use a laptop to configure a virtual router. Connect to a VPN on the laptop, then connect the Apple TV to the laptop’s wifi hotspot. This works with most modern Windows and Mac laptops. You can find more detailed instructions in our tutorial on how to turn your Mac into a VPN-secured router. Windows instructions can be found in this tutorial on how to accomplish the same result with Chromecast, Roku, or FireTV.
- Flash your wifi router with a VPN-compatible firmware and configure the VPN on it. This is the most technically advanced option, so make sure you know what you’re doing. The process varies from router to router, and not all wifi routers are compatible with DD-WRT or Tomato firmware. If you’re not comfortable with replacing the firmware on your home wifi router, you can opt to purchase a preconfigured VPN router from ExpressVPN.
Are the solutions listed here no longer working for you? Do you know of any other VPN services that bypass Netflix’s anti-VPN firewall? Drop us a note in the comments!
Read more: How to hide OpenVPN traffic using Obfsproxy on a Windows PC and Linux EC2 server
“To shreds, you say” by Jeffrey licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0