“Wait – I thought all VPNs unblock Netflix” we can hear you saying.
Not exactly. Sure, most of them will say they unblock Netflix in their marketing copy, but that doesn’t mean they unblock it 100% of the time. And others might not even be able to unblock it at all.
So to answer your question: no, not all VPNs can unblock Netflix. Only a few of them are able to do that (see the best ones here).
We’ll tell you how Netflix manages to block VPNs, why they do it, and what you can do if you get the Netflix proxy error in this quick guide.
Here’s How Netflix Detects & Blocks VPNs
Netflix never specifically said how they detect VPNs, and there’s no data about this online either. But we speculate they do the following:
- They check for multiple logins from the same IP address. To the site, it would look like tens or hundreds of people are signing into their accounts using just one IP address. Obviously, that means a VPN server is used.
- They work with businesses (like MaxMind or IP2Location, for example) that log IP addresses and provide companies like Netflix with data about them. Data like where the IP addresses are from, whether they are residential or commercial IP addresses, and whether they belong to a proxy.
- Netflix might be programmed to check if your device has tracking cookies from different geographical areas. That’s usually indicative that you’ve been using multiple VPN servers to hide your geo-location.
- Netflix could automatically block traffic routes from data centers, and partner up with ISPs through their Open Connect program to make sure they only get residential traffic paths.
As for how they block VPNs, they likely use automated scripts that blacklist IP addresses that are confirmed to belong to VPN providers or data centers.
Why Does Netflix Bother with Blocking VPNs?
They don’t really have a choice. Netflix doesn’t own the copyright to all the shows on their platform. And the third parties that do already sold the distribution rights in other countries to different streaming sites and TV networks.
That sounds a bit complicated, so here’s a quick breakdown:
- Netflix buys the distribution rights for a certain show from the copyright holder for the US and Canada. They can now stream that content there on their site.
- You’re from the UK, and the copyright holder sold the distribution rights to said show in your country to a local TV network.
- Because Netflix doesn’t have the rights to stream the show in the UK, they geo-block it so it’s only available in the Canadian and US libraries.
They obviously need to focus on detecting and blocking VPNs because they need to comply with the copyright agreements they signed.
What about Netflix Originals?
Most of them are normally available worldwide since Netflix owns the rights to them.
There’s only one exception – if Netflix already sold the distribution rights to another platform or TV network in a country before they launched their platform there. In that case, they can’t stream their own shows in that region until they buy those rights back.
How to Fix the Netflix Proxy Error (6 Solutions)
Before you try any of these tips, we highly recommend switching to a VPN that can actually unblock Netflix. See the best ones here. It’s a comprehensive guide from ProPrivacy that should help you find the right VPN for you.
If you like your current VPN, and just want to fix the Netflix proxy error, try the following six things:
1. Restart the VPN
Both the connection and the app.
First, try disconnecting from the server, wait a few seconds, and reconnect again.
If that didn’t work, disconnect, close the app, wait a few seconds, start it up, and reconnect.
2. Update the App
If your app is outdated, there’s a chance you’re not using the newly refreshed IP addresses. Instead, you’re connecting to Netflix with the old blacklisted addresses.
So run any updates to see if that solves the problem.
3. Try Different Servers
Maybe the server you’re using right now is experiencing problems or has been blacklisted by Netflix. Try connecting to a different one until the problem is fixed.
Some providers have dedicated streaming servers that are optimized for specific sites. So make sure you use them if they’re available.
4. Clear Your Cookies + Use Incognito Mode
If tracking cookies are giving away your real geo-location, make sure you clear all cookies before using Netflix with a VPN.
Even better, use incognito mode too. It doesn’t store cookies and it should ignore all the geo-location data your browser caches, meaning it won’t get leaked to Netflix.
5. Ask Your Provider for a Dedicated IP Address
That way, you’ll be the only one using it, meaning Netflix won’t see hundreds of sign-ins from the IP address you’re using.
Most providers will charge extra for this. So as long as you’re paying, you might as well try getting a residential dedicated IP address. That means the address is from someone’s home, so Netflix will see a residential ISP instead of a data center if they look it up.
6. Contact Support
If dedicated IPs aren’t an option, and none of the other tips worked, it’s time to ask the support team what’s going on.
Maybe the VPN is experiencing temporary issues with Netflix. Or maybe it can’t unblock it anymore. Whatever the reason, they should be able to tell you what the situation is and what they’re doing to fix the problem.
Were You Able to Unblock Netflix with a VPN?
Or did you encounter the dreaded Netflix proxy error? If you did, how did you bypass it? Did you use the tips we mentioned here, or did you try something else?
Please let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to share this article on social media if you found it helpful.