Watching Netflix without using a VPN is like going fishing without using the right bait – you won’t be able to catch the fish you want (i.e. watch the shows you want).
If you don’t get that comparison, please remember that Netflix shows vary from country to country. If you don’t believe us, just use this online tool from ProPrivacy (https://streamcatcher.proprivacy.com) to see for yourself. For example, if you look up Shameless (U.S.) and Dexter, you’ll see they’re only available in the US.
But while using a Netflix VPN can help you unblock tons of awesome shows and movies, will it also get you in trouble with the site? Isn’t using one against Netflix’s ToS?
If you read them, it sure seems that way. Here’s what Netflix says:
- You may view the Netflix content primarily within the country in which you have established your account and only in geographic locations where we offer our service and have licensed such content.”
- “You also agree not to: circumvent, remove, alter, deactivate, degrade or thwart any of the content protections in the Netflix service;”
Sure sounds like using a VPN for Netflix will result in a ban, right?
It seems that way, but the reality is different – Netflix won’t ban you for using a VPN. But it won’t let you off the hook either. We’ll tell you more about that in this quick guide, so stick around.
What Happens If Netflix Catches You Using a VPN
The site won’t blacklist your account or do anything like that. However, it will redirect you to the Netflix proxy error page.
The only way to leave that page and resume using Netflix is to disconnect from the VPN. Of course, that means you won’t be able to unblock the titles you wanted to watch.
How often do VPN users get this error, you ask?
It depends on what VPN you’re using – not all of them can unblock Netflix.
Why Can’t All VPNs Unblock Netflix?
As far as we can tell, it’s because they don’t refresh their IPs often enough. That means they need to lease new IP addresses from the data centers they’re renting servers from. Naturally, the data centers won’t do that for free, so the VPN provider has to allocate a hefty budget for that.
Unfortunately, not all VPNs are able to do that. And since they don’t regularly refresh their IPs, Netflix has an easy time detecting them and redirecting their connections to the proxy error page.
How Does Netflix Detect VPNs?
It’s hard to say since Netflix isn’t exactly open about this. We mostly assume the company is using IP detection services like MaxMind or IP2Location (those are just examples – we have no idea if Netflix is actually working with them or not).
Basically, those companies provide Netflix with databases of proxy and VPN IPs, and scripts that allow the site to redirect said IPs to the proxy error page.
Besides that, there are a few other ways we suspect Netflix is able to detect VPN IPs:
- The site notices multiple sign-ins from the same IP address (like 50-100 people). That’s very indicative of VPN behavior.
- The site checks the tracking cookies on your browser, and sees geo-locations that don’t match your IP. If you use a VPN for other activities, it’s really easy to end up with multiple cookies from different geographical regions on your device.
- They partner up with ISPs to make sure they only get residential traffic, meaning data center traffic routes might get flagged or blocked.
How to Find a VPN That Can Regularly Unblock Netflix
Considering all of the above, how can you be sure you pick a VPN that actually works with Netflix?
Getting subscriptions for different providers, and testing each one for a month or so to see if they have trouble unblocking Netflix doesn’t really sound appealing, now does it?
Well don’t worry – you don’t need to go to such extreme lengths. There’s a very simple way to get a good Netflix VPN – just use StreamCatcher from ProPrivacy (https://streamcatcher.proprivacy.com). It’s a tool that tells you what countries Netflix titles are available in, and also recommends the best Netflix VPNs to unblock them.
And you can trust those recommendations – they’re all based on ProPrivacy’s data, one of the biggest VPN review sites on the web.
Having Trouble with the Netflix Proxy Error? Try This!
If you’re not yet ready to switch VPNs and want to troubleshoot the proxy error issue, here’s what you can try doing:
- Restart the VPN connection or the VPN app. Wait a few seconds before doing that, though.
- Update the VPN app if you haven’t already. An outdated app might use old IP addresses that are still blacklisted by Netflix.
- Use a different VPN server. Maybe the current server’s IP address was flagged by Netflix. If the provider has dedicated streaming servers for Netflix, use them since they might refresh their IPs more often.
- Clear your browser’s cookies and use incognito mode.
- Try getting a dedicated IP from the provider. That way, Netflix doesn’t see multiple sign-ins from the IP you’re using. If you can get a residential IP, even better since Netflix will see that your traffic is coming from a residential ISP, not a data center.
If nothing works, you’ll have to eventually end your current subscription, and switch to a VPN that actually works with Netflix. Otherwise, you’ll have to put up with not being able to unblock Netflix content whenever you want (don’t forget – that’s what you’re paying for).
Did You Ever Have Trouble with the Netflix Proxy Error?
If yes, how did you bypass it? Did using a good Netflix VPN solve the problem, or did you have to try other methods?
Please tell us about your experience in the comments below. Also, if you know other ways Netflix can detect VPNs, don’t forget to mention them.