Streaming services like Netflix routinely tighten their restrictions on VPNs and proxies. That’s why you may have recently encountered a “proxy error” on Netflix. The good news is that while you’re traveling abroad, you may still be able to access Netflix by using a VPN or smart DNS proxy. And while it might be slightly more complicated, it remains feasible.
A Smart DNS Proxy is a service that routes all DNS requests made by your device to a private DNS server in lieu of your ISP’s default DNS servers. DNS requests are used to determine which domain names (for example, “netflix.com”) are associated with which servers. If it detects a Netflix DNS request, it routes all browser web traffic for that request through the server to an American Netflix server, changing both your public IP address and DNS server.
Why isn’t Smart DNS Proxy working with Netflix?
Smart DNS proxies like Unotelly, Overplay, and Unblock-US were a blip in Netflix’s proxy battle. Many users had to resort to these services after Netflix blocked connections from most VPNs back in 2016. Since then, Netflix has cracked down on smart DNS providers and blocked most of their users.
That said, there are a few possible reasons why Smart DNS Proxy no longer works with Netflix. In some cases, it’s a minor issue that can usually be fixed in a minute or two.
Here’s why Smart DNS isn’t working with Netflix:
- Netflix still remembers your previous IP address (and subsequently your location) due to a cookie stored on your device.
- The new IP address assigned to you is known and has been blacklisted by Netflix as a result.
- You’re not connected to a server in a location in which the title you’re attempting to stream is available.
- Your device’s GPS location and IP address don’t match.
- Your real IP address is leaking and revealing your location.
So how are you supposed to know which of the above is causing your issue? And how do you go about fixing it?
How to fix Smart DNS not working with Netflix
It’s pretty hard for us to say why your Smart DNS Proxy only works occasionally with Netflix, as this can be challenging to diagnose. However, we’ve tried and tested a good number of fixes to help you get up and running.
Here’s what to do if Smart DNS Proxy is not working with Netflix:
Ensure you’re connected to the right server
You can’t access a Netflix library specific to a country like the US if you’re connecting to a server in a different location like the UK. Smart DNS proxies are usually configured to route you to popular Netflix libraries like the US.
Clear your browser cache and cookies
Whenever you visit Netflix, your browser or app stores cookie data or a cache version of the page you’re on to ensure it loads faster next time. Clearing your cache and cookies will help you get rid of logs of your blocked visits to Netflix.
Switch to a different browser
Netflix may block Smart DNS Proxy on one browser, but it could still work on another that hasn’t stored cookies of your restricted visits. Curiously, Netflix may have access to your geo-location in one browser and not the other. Therefore, switching to Firefox if Chrome is giving you problems is worth a shot.
Use Netflix web instead of the app
Try accessing Netflix through the web platform rather than the mobile app and see if it fixes the issue. Remember, you may get the proxy error on the Netflix mobile app and not the web version.
Disable location services
Netflix’s VPN detection algorithm can verify your virtual IP address against your true GPS location, allowing it to block your connection if it identifies a mismatch. To keep this from happening, switch off your location services and clear your browser history before trying to connect again.
On the off chance that Smart DNS still can’t access Netflix, try contacting the provider’s customer support.
Smart DNS Proxy alternatives
While Netflix has an extensive library, most of its content is limited to certain geographical areas due to copyright agreements. You can only watch select movies and TV shows depending on your location. If you’ve traveled abroad, you’ll need a trusty VPN that can securely access your usual home streaming services such as Netflix.
If you’ve tried all the above workarounds but are still unable to access Netflix with Smart DNS, your best bet would be to look for alternatives. For Netflix, you might want to use a reputable VPN service with a proven track record when it comes to streaming.
After thoroughly researching which VPNs work best to safely stream Netflix, we’ve compiled a list of the top VPNs for the job. According to our team’s analysis of more than 5,000 internal test results from 59 VPNs in 30 regions, the seasoned VPN providers in this article can reliably access the streaming service from anywhere.
We’ll only suggest a handful of Netflix VPNs with a proven track record of fixing the proxy error. We simply cannot recommend any VPNs that might only work today and fail tomorrow.
Here’s a roundup of the top VPNs that work with Netflix:
- NordVPN: Our top Smart DNS proxy alternative. 5,600+ fast servers. Excellent security and privacy credentials. Comes with a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: Budget-friendly provider with no connection limits. Works great with Netflix and similar services. Good speeds and great security.
- ExpressVPN: A well-established VPN known for its high speeds, powerful security features, and exceptional versatility.
- CyberGhost: High-speed servers for streaming Netflix. Secure VPN with encryption and a strict no-logs policy. Connect up to seven devices at once. Includes 24/7 live support.
- IPVanish: Fixes the Netflix proxy error. Also works with BBC iPlayer and Hulu. Very fast servers for buffer and lag-free streaming. User-friendly apps and a no-logs policy.
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Netflix VPN FAQs
How do I use a VPN with Netflix?
Reputable VPNs work more reliably with Netflix than smart DNS. Provided your VPN service supports Netflix, setting it up is easy. Once you’ve signed up for any of the recommended VPN services above, here’s how to use a VPN to watch Netflix:
- Choose a VPN that can safely access Netflix. We recommend NordVPN because it’s fast, secure, and reliable. Alternatively, you can try Surfshark, which works very well despite being slightly cheaper. ExpressVPN is another great option. Although it’s a touch pricey, it is a fantastic all-rounder.
- Follow one of the links above to navigate to the VPN’s website. Using our link will get you your preferred VPN at the lowest possible price thanks to our exclusive discount coupon.
- Subscribe to your Netflix VPN of choice and download the app. Our recommendations have apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android meaning you can stream Netflix on any of your mobile devices.
- Install the VPN app for your device and log in.
- Connect to a VPN server in the US and launch Netflix in your browser or in the app.
As soon as your VPN connects, you should be able to start watching your Netflix account from abroad. If you have any problems streaming, we recommend you use the troubleshooting tips above to get it working as quickly as possible.
Can I use a free VPN to fix the Netflix proxy error?
Unfortunately, we do not recommend using free VPNs. While you might find various free VPNs on the market, they’re just not fit for streaming.
TunnelBear is the only VPN with a free tier that you can rely on to securely access Netflix. But even so, it only offers 500 MB monthly data, which may only be enough for one episode of your favorite show.
Other free VPNs don’t work consistently with Netflix because they simply lack the necessary resources for the job. Most have incredibly limited servers that are highly congested, leading to slow speeds, lag, and frequent buffering. Worse still, because they only have a few servers, Netflix has an easy time blocking their IP addresses.
Additionally, we strongly advise against using free VPNs on serious security grounds. Most of them lack encryption and suffer from DNS and IP leaks, besides having invasive privacy policies. This allows them to freely mine and sell your data to various third parties such as marketing companies and data brokers.
If you’re on a budget and don’t want to risk the security of your data and devices, you can try any of the secure VPNs we’ve recommended in this guide. What’s more, they all have a money-back guarantee that lets you test their service and stream Netflix from anywhere, risk-free.
Does Smart DNS Proxy support split tunneling?
Smart DNS Proxy does not support split tunneling at the time of writing. Split tunneling allows you to selectively route your traffic through either the VPN or through your default ISP connection.
So you can, for example, send your P2P traffic through the VPN while sending the rest of your traffic out via your ISP connection. Alternatively, you could send everything through the VPN, except your Netflix traffic or anything in between.
Split tunneling is quite convenient and can accommodate pretty much any scenario.
For more information on split tunneling, check out our recommended VPNs for split tunneling.
Why does Netflix ban most VPNs?
Sadly, Netflix doesn't explicitly distinguish between users who reside in other nations and those who have just gone for a trip abroad and wish to utilize their home streaming services.
Even if you're using a VPN for legitimate purposes such as increasing privacy, Netflix still views this as a means of getting around territorial licensing restrictions. From their position, allowing users unfettered access to movies and TV series in nations where they lack a license to stream would be a violation of licensing rules.
Why do we advise utilizing a VPN when watching Netflix?
When it comes to online security and privacy, VPNs are an excellent choice for everyone. That’s because a VPN is far more than a simple proxy tool to trick streaming services and websites into thinking users are somewhere they aren't. Therefore, whether or not a person uses Netflix, we heartily advise them to sign up for a reliable VPN service.
What issues might a VPN cause when watching Netflix?
When attempting to access Netflix using a VPN, the following issues occur frequently:
- VPN or proxy error message
- Location related error
- Inability to view a certain network
- Long buffering periods
- Poor playback of videos
What can I watch on Netflix?
Netflix has a vast amount of content, and a lot of it is its own original programming. However, here’s a list of some of the most popular original content you can watch on Netflix:
- Squid Game
- The Witcher
- Cowboy Bebop
- Midnight Mass
- I Think You Should Leave
- Money Heist
- The Chair
- Lost in Space