Chances are that you use Netflix, the streaming site that lets you watch all kinds of content for one single monthly price. What you may not know is that Netflix has even more content than what you can see when browsing the main page. The way to access this extra content is also the way you get around blocks that keep you from accessing the site in the first place.
Why Unblock Netflix?
You probably know that Netflix is a large company with customers all over the world. However, not everybody gets to choose from the same content. The Netflix library changes depending on the country you’re in, sometimes even drastically. For example, Netflix in the United States has a much larger selection of TV shows than other countries have.
By the same token, other countries will have shows specific to that country, or have shows that run on another streaming service in the U.S. The offering of movies especially can change a lot between countries, with the U.K. and EU countries generally offering a lot more than U.S. Netflix does.
The reason for this geographical splintering of libraries is mainly due to licensing agreements. The company publishing a movie or TV show may have a deal with Netflix to show it in the U.S., Canada, and Germany, say, but have a deal with another streaming service or network for the viewing rights in France or Spain.
It could very well be that a movie you’ve been burning to watch is on Netflix, just not in your country. This can be a bit frustrating: instead of using the Netflix subscription you’ve already paid for, you may need to pay money to another service instead.
When You Can’t Even Access Netflix
Another issue is that, on some networks, you can’t even access Netflix at all. One good example is if you try to watch it from work or, a bit more serious if you’re stuck behind the Great Firewall of China. In those cases, chances are you won’t even get a look at the site, all you see is an error code from your network administrator.
In the case of your workplace or school, these blocks are in place to keep you from wasting time—even if you just want to finish an episode on your lunch break. In the case of China and other countries without Netflix (not many of those), it’s less about wasting time and more about maintaining ideological purity. Luckily, there is a very good way around any kind of block, namely VPNs.
Using a VPN to Unblock Netflix
Virtual private networks are the best—and in practical terms, the only—way to get through to other countries’ Netflix libraries or to get around blocks. In short, what a VPN does is make it look like you’re accessing a site like Netflix from a different location than the one you’re in. For example, if you’re in France and want to watch U.S. Netflix, you’d use your VPN to make it appear like you’re somewhere in the States.
As a bonus, a VPN will also secure the connection at the same time. Not only can you crack different Netflix regions, you will also be able to browse without having to worry about being tracked by marketers or anybody else interested in what you’re doing online.
Using a VPN is easy: you just start up the program, pick a server from a long list of locations across the world, and that’s pretty much it. Whichever site you’re visiting will think you’re accessing it from the location you picked. Check out our beginner’s guide to NordVPN to get an idea of how it works.
As for getting started, a VPN is an online service like any other: you pick one you like, pay a subscription fee, and you can use it for as long as the subscription lasts. Different VPNs offer different features, prices, and interfaces, so it pays to shop around; we have a full guide on how to choose the best VPN for your needs.
Picking a VPN for Netflix
However, if unblocking Netflix is your main reason to purchase a VPN subscription, there is a catch: not all VPNs work equally well with Netflix. This is because Netflix doesn’t like people accessing the libraries of regions other than their own and has some advanced VPN detection systems in place.
As a result, some VPN services will not get through to Netflix at all, some will only work part of the time, while others will get through quite often. That said, no VPN will always work with Netflix, it really depends on the server in the location you picked. Some servers will do better than others, meaning you may need to cycle through several locations before you find one that works.
Don’t worry about getting in trouble for using a VPN, either: if you’re detected, Netflix will just push you to a page that only features its own shows. You’re free to try again or even just switch the VPN off without any repercussions.
Another issue is that VPNs generally aren’t free—or at least the ones that work with Netflix aren’t. The best VPNs can set you back as much as $100 per year, though some smart shopping may net you a deal of half that—or even less. You could also try out decentralized VPNs, they seem to be pretty successful at cracking Netflix, though they’re harder to use than regular VPNs.
For our money, though, we like ExpressVPN a lot for getting through to Netflix as well as a number of other reasons. If making the most of your streaming subscription is your top priority, we recommend you make use of the 30-day money-back guarantee to see if you like it.