If a streaming service is blocking your VPN, start by choosing a new server location. Then try some alternative VPN protocols and consider getting a dedicated VPN. Note that these steps require a premium VPN service — a cheap or free option will not suffice.
We use VPN services to stream geo-restricted content and protect our privacy. However, some streaming services, notably Netflix, make deliberate efforts to block VPNs. Luckily, there are several simple steps you can take to bypass VPN blocking.
Before a streaming service can block your VPN, it must detect that you’re using a VPN. And that’s rarely a difficult task. Most VPN providers only have a handful of servers shared by hundreds or thousands of users. Detection is often done simply by looking at IP addresses.
Of course, changing your VPN server (and therefore your IP address) may not be enough to break a ban. Streaming companies can take some dramatic steps to identify a VPN connection, and advanced prevention methods are often backed by fraud prevention services such as B. reached IPQualityScore.
Here are some ways streaming services can detect a VPN connection:
- Basic IP blocking: If a website sees a ridiculous amount of traffic from a single IP address, it can assume that IP address is associated with a VPN.
- VPN port blocking: Some websites use a firewall to block the UPD and TCP ports commonly used by VPNs.
- Deep Packet Inspection (DPI): An app or website can use DPI to observe data as it travels through a network. A VPN encrypts your data to prevent DPI spying. However, DPI can still identify the protocol used by your VPN (WireGuard, OpenVPN, etc.).
- location tracking: If your GPS location doesn’t match your IP address, a website or app can detect that you’re using a VPN. However, not all streaming platforms require GPS location data.
Most of these detection methods are fairly simple (and relatively easy to circumvent). But deep packet inspection can be a bit tricky. Premium VPN providers are best at bypassing these detection methods.
I should make it clear that blocking VPNs is usually a security issue. Websites can block VPNs to prevent malicious actors from appearing DOS attacks or anonymously hijack other people’s accounts. But streaming services are also concerned about their relationships with studios, distributors, and internet service providers. These industries want to monitor your web activity and don’t want you spoofing your location to bypass geo-restricted content.
Believe it or not, premium VPN services cost money because they are good. Cheap and free VPN providers offer you a good level of privacy, but are rarely equipped to handle more complex tasks. For example, they typically don’t allow customers to choose a VPN location and don’t always take the necessary steps to avoid being blocked.
Most of the suggestions I make in this article require a premium VPN service, which can cost anywhere from $3 to $20 per month. Before proceeding, I strongly encourage you to read our list the best VPN services. If you don’t feel like reading our list, just know that Express VPN is toughest when it comes to streaming access.
I should also note that VPN providers need to make money. Otherwise, they cannot own or operate their servers. If you don’t pay your VPN provider in cash, there’s a good chance they’ll sell your data. For this reason, I don’t recommend using a free VPN unless it’s bundled with something you’ve paid for (e.g. a Google One subscription).
In most cases, identifying a VPN is as simple as blocking suspicious IP addresses. If a hundred users visit a website from the same IP address, it is safe to assume that the IP address is associated with a VPN.
A good VPN provider regularly updates the IP addresses of their servers. And it can use multiple IP addresses for a single server location, reducing the number of people at each address. However, cheap and free VPN providers do not always take these measures. Not to mention that popular server locations always have a large number of users and are therefore always reasonably easy to identify.
So if a website is blocking your VPN, your first step is simple: change the location of your VPN server. Cheap and free VPN providers do not always offer this functionality, but most paid VPN services do. If you’re trying to access geo-restricted content, this is an essential feature.
However, keep in mind that popular VPN servers are often the easiest to identify as they have the largest number of users. Since the distance to a VPN server affects your speed, most people connect to a server closer to home. As such, you may need to avoid servers located in densely populated areas or coastal cities like Atlanta or New York.
In addition to IP blocking, streaming services can also block the UPD and TCP ports commonly used by VPN providers. Most VPN providers will automatically select yours VPN protocol (and therefore your port) to avoid such problems and ensure the best possible speeds. Still, manually selecting a VPN protocol can help you bypass a VPN block.
Premium VPN providers usually allow you to choose your protocol, but this feature is not guaranteed with free or cheap options. Manually selecting a protocol shouldn’t take more than a few seconds – just open your VPN app, go to settings and select the protocol you want to use.
I suggest you try WireGuard first. From there, select OpenVPN, IKEv2 and L2TP. If you use ExpressVPN, you should also try the Lightway protocol, and NordVPN has the NordLynx protocol. (Avoid the PPTP protocol completely, or at least don’t use it when performing private or confidential tasks.)
If you continue to have problems after changing your server location and VPN protocol, it may be due to Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Websites and ISPs use DPI to inspect your web activity, and while a standard VPN server encrypts your data (to prevent actual spying), only an obfuscated server can hide the telltale signs of a VPN from your data stream (although it won ). (this doesn’t always work).
There are obfuscated servers designed to help people bypass hardcore firewalls (such as those used by governments, schools, and sometimes streaming services). Using an obfuscated server will slow down the web and increase CPU usage. However, if your VPN provider offers obfuscated servers and you can’t bypass a streaming service’s VPN block, it’s worth a try.
If all else fails, you can try using a dedicated VPN server. Instead of sharing a VPN server and IP address with many people, you get something more private, which reduces discoverability.
The problem with a dedicated server is that it can compromise your online privacy. Because fewer people are using the IP address, websites have a better chance of associating it with your online habits and accounts. (Of course, if you’re just using a VPN to spoof your location and watch Netflix, privacy isn’t the biggest concern.)
In any case, a dedicated VPN server (also called a static IP address) is reserved exclusively for a single user. Some VPN providers like Surfshark offer static IPs for free. However, NordVPN and others charge a monthly fee for dedicated access. (ExpressVPN, which we recommended previously, doesn’t offer dedicated servers).
You can also create a personal VPN server for yourself, but this option is usually not worth the hassle. Not only do you have to pay for server space and a static IP, you also have to set everything up yourself. It is cheaper and easier to pay a VPN provider for their service.