It sounds like a weird question — after all, we know VPNs as nifty servers that allow us access to just about any site in the world without any fear of safety issues. So why should Netflix be any different?
Well, that’s because Netflix has taken it upon itself to be the sworn enemy of all VPNs, actively attempting to block out all VPN access to its servers since 2016. From that time, what ensued was a to-and-fro battle that saw a lot of VPN services being completely unable to access Netflix.
The Why and How of the Netflix VPN ban
We already know that Netflix delivers various content to viewers depending on where they are geographically located. This limitation isn’t because Netflix doesn’t like sharing Japan’s local content to the US and vice versa — it’s a legal issue, since despite international treaties there are still differences in the copyright laws of various countries. Lest its laxness becomes an issue that will make it complicit in piracy, the streaming giant’s crackdown on VPNs is a necessary move.
Netflix has developed an ingenious way to catch VPN users, using the way VPNs work against them. Because VPNs are only a few servers (relatively speaking) receiving and protecting the connections of millions of users around the world, Netflix has developed an algorithm to detect similar IP addresses coming from these VPN connections. These addresses are then blocked, and the Netflix accounts behind them banned. The streaming giant also makes use of third-party services, which collate information on VPN servers, thus making the screening of connections easier and more efficient.
VPNs Strike Back
Now, the first salvo of Netflix’s offensive shot down all VPNs… but it wasn’t long before a few companies found loopholes in the system the streaming service implements. Finding loopholes and taking care of them, after all, are what VPN companies do best.
Being able to roll with Netflix’s blows, however, takes quite a lot of resources. Even after years, there are only a handful of VPN companies able to completely bypass Netflix’s blocks (and those of the other streaming services that cropped up after).
Given the level of sophistication required to remove VPN restrictions from streaming sites, our reviews decidedly favor those companies whose services can get through Netflix and its peers. This ability means the companies invest not only in upgrading their services, but also in keeping up with any technical issues that affect its customers’ experience. Remember that Netflix is also continually upgrading its defences, and to think that some VPN companies have turned the tug of war in their favor is pretty impressive.
Going The Distance
Some VPN providers offer something even better than just unobstructed Netflix access — they offer a permanent way to be protected from the streaming service’s ever improving security protocols. Remember how Netflix searches for connections that come from specific bunches of IP addresses (that of VPNs)? What if you’re using a VPN but still registering a unique IP address that is all your own, unrelated to anyone else using the same VPN?
A few VPN providers offer dedicated IP addresses that are unique to the subscriber, hence making them essentially immune from Netflix blocks. These IP addresses come at an extra cost, but that these companies have the infrastructure to provide them in the first place speaks to the robustness of their services.
Those that cannot offer dedicated IPs may offer an analogous service, which are subscription packages dedicated to Netflix and streaming. While not as secure as a unique IP address, these subscriptions keep users one step ahead of Netflix’s algorithms to ensure uninterrupted access.