Top VPN Comparison: 900 VPNs Compared for Netflix
When we started VPN.com, our company made it our mission to change the way that the VPN industry functions on a fundamental level. For years VPN review sites have been inundated with affiliate offers and barrels of marketing cash in order to promote a select number of specific VPN providers, many of which may not actually carry all the features you’re looking for when you want to stream content or browse in complete privacy.
The relationship between VPN review sites and the providers they’re supposed to be critiquing has gotten a little too cozy recently, so we’ve decided the only way for potential VPN customers to get the most unbiased information possible is to go with the only thing that truly matters at the end of the day: data.
VPN.com has scoured the web, committing thousands of man hours to the process of cataloging and organizing any and all data that’s available for 900+ providers scattered across the internet. Using this process we’ve been able to narrow down the top 145 VPN services which claim to offer Netflix streaming functionality in one form or another.
But what should you know about these providers, and are all their claims really as true as they say they are? Read on in our guide to find out!
Our research process
Whenever we set out to find VPN data on a new portion of the marketplace, it all starts with our research team. We employ a dedicated workforce of dozens of data analysis experts who spend their days trolling the web and pulling any information that a VPN service provides on their website, and incorporates anything they’re able to find publicly into our main spreadsheet.
But what good are huge chunks of raw data if they don’t look good enough to go through once everything is gathered up in one place? That’s where the data visualization wizards at Airtable come in, who provide a stellar service that makes all the information we gather simple to navigate, and beautiful to look at to boot. Using Airtable you can quickly sort through the noise to find the exact VPN service you’ve been looking for, all with just a few clicks of a button.
Finally, once all the data was gathered and cleaned up, we imported it all to our blowout page on the Netflix category which contains every piece of information you would ever need when it comes to the streaming service and its current relationship with the VPN industry as a whole.
VPNs and Netflix: A history
But, even though many VPNs claim that they work with Netflix and promise to provide you with uninterrupted streaming as long as you’re subscribed to their network, oftentimes actually getting the truth out of them can be worse than pulling teeth.
Many of the VPN providers currently operating in the market today first got their start during the boom years of streaming, around 2008-2015. During this time video streaming was quickly becoming the primary way that many people got their entertainment at home, moving away from cable and satellite companies that would charge an arm and a leg just for a couple of channels that people didn’t really watch anyway. Thanks to geo-blocking and region-based copyright restrictions, many international users outside the US and UK found themselves locked out of the libraries that so many millions of users in those countries were able to enjoy at their leisure.
This is where VPNs came in, providing a safe and simple way for the average user to make streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu think that a device was connecting from within the US, while really they could be streaming from anywhere between Russia and Brazil and beyond.
The VPN workaround was an option for every Netflix subscriber for years, but in early 2016 that all changed. Netflix announced it would no longer allow connections from major VPN providers, and would block any streams that detected a proxy tool was being used to reroute a user’s IP from its true location. This sent much of the VPN industry into tailspin, and many previously profitable outfits suddenly found themselves hemorrhaging users by the handful.
But, all was not lost. Soon enough providers figured out the methods that Netflix was using to detect the use of VPNs, and began offering new methods that could circumvent the block without interrupting their user’s streaming experience. If you want to read in full how this system works head on over to our companion article which covers the subject in greater detail, but for now all you need to know is that the current techniques of getting around the Netflix ban are expensive, time-consuming, and don’t always work as advertised.
Be careful of bogus claims
This brings us back to our Netflix VPN comparison found below. Although all 145 of the VPNs listed here do technically claim they’re able to unblock Netflix for their customers, it possible that if you go with a smaller provider that the capability could be lost in a day and might never get turned on again. This is because in order to get around the ban, VPN providers need to constantly be purchasing new IP address blocks in bulk as soon as Netflix’s networking algorithm adds them to what’s known as the “blacklist”.
If a VPN service is added to the blacklist, all of its customers are officially right back where they started - staring down the proxy error and frantically hitting F5 to try and get their favorite shows up and running again. Top VPN companies like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Hotspot Shield can afford the resources necessary to keep up in this rat race, and can oftentimes replace blacklisted IP blocks within minutes of them being banned by Netflix.
Smaller providers though (of which there are at least a hundred on the list below) can’t always do the same. They may have one or two blocks of IP addresses ready to get around the block, but once those are burnt by Netflix the jig is up for good. So, even though a service might claim that it can unblock Netflix on their website, it may only be a matter of days, even hours before that functionality goes up in smoke.
Smaller providers though (of which there are at least a hundred on the list above) can’t always do the same. They may have one or two blocks of IP addresses ready to get around the block, but once those are burnt by Netflix the jig is up for good. So, even though a service might claim that it can unblock Netflix on their website, it may only be a matter of days, even hours before that functionality goes up in smoke.
What to look for in a Netflix VPN
In order to avoid this potential problem, we have a few recommendations that can help you save money and guarantee that you always get exactly what you need out of your new VPN service.
- Subscribe monthly first: The best way to make sure you don’t lose your shirt the next time you buy a VPN is to start small, and only subscribe to a one-month billing period first. This way you can verify that the service actually unblocks Netflix the way the company claims it does, and if it doesn’t you can quickly get your money refunded and move onto another provider to test Netflix again.
- Make sure the VPN unblocks web browsers and apps: Many people like to watch Netflix on more than just their computer or laptop, and will often use the mobile app on their phone or stream directly through their smart TV instead. While many VPN providers work fine on a computer’s web browser, all functionality might go out the window as soon as you want to watch somewhere else. Look for providers that offer a suite of mobile apps, as well as any that let you install their VPN on your home router (or better yet, sell pre-configured routers with the VPN already installed). This will make it so every device in your home will be able to stream Netflix uninterrupted, and allow you to enjoy the service just as freely as you would if there were no VPN in use at all.
- Contact customer support: Finally the most effective way of verifying whether or not the VPN service you want to use is still capable of unblocking Netflix is to ask them yourself! As we’ve mentioned previously, even though a VPN service might say they unblock Netflix, all it takes is one bad day for all their available IPs to get blacklisted. This means what they said yesterday may not be true today, and only a live customer service representative will have the most up to date information on whether or not their network is still flying under Netflix’s radar successfully.
As distributors and studios continue to tighten their grip on territorial content copyright licenses, the need for VPNs that can open up the rest of the world to their favorite movies and television shows will only keep growing by the day.
So whether your old VPN just got blacklisted this morning or you’re dipping your toes into the world of Netflix and VPNs for the first time, VPN.com has everything you need to know about the difference between VPN providers who make big claims and those who are actually able to back them up.
Check out our table below containing the full list of all 145 providers currently claiming Netflix functionality, and find the one that fits your budget best to start your subscription today!