What is the Best VPN for Netflix?
ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Netflix — it’s actually the best overall VPN of 2020, period. The VPN is extremely secure, fast, and reliable. It’s compatible with all major platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android and has consistently worked to unblock dozens of Netflix libraries over all our years of testing.
Though it is a fantastic all-round VPN service, ExpressVPN is still limited. If you’re looking for an inexpensive VPN or you need access to as many international Netflix libraries as possible then we recommend installing Windscribe, which provides reliable access to Netflix for a much lower subscription fee.
How to Watch US Netflix From Abroad
Being able to access US Netflix is an essential VPN feature for most users. British and Australian Netflix users are limited to just 2,000 titles, while the US Netflix library has a massive total of 5,665 movies and TV shows.
To watch US Netflix with a VPN:
- Subscribe to a VPN that works with Netflix and download the application.
- Select a server in the United States and connect to the VPN.
- Launch Netflix on whichever device you’re using.
- Contact your VPN provider’s customer support if you’re having any issues.
Whether you’re on holiday or now living somewhere else in the world, you could be missing out on thousands of the movies and TV shows that Netflix has to offer.
The Office & Parks and Recreation can be streamed with a US VPN server.
Using a VPN, you can access American Netflix from anywhere in the world without using an American payment method or purchasing an additional subscription. All you need is an existing Netflix account and a US-registered IP address, which you can get by using a VPN service that successfully unblocks Netflix.
VPN Speeds for Streaming Netflix
By encrypting and tunneling your internet traffic, all VPNs will slow down your internet speeds to some degree. However, the best Netflix VPNs maintain fast internet speeds, ensuring your Netflix streaming is not interrupted by any buffering issues.
Here are the minimum internet speeds Netflix itself says you need for streaming:
- 3Mbps — Recommended for SD quality
- 5Mbps — Recommended for HD quality
- 25Mbps — Recommended for Ultra HD (4K) quality
These recommendations from Netflix align with what we’ve found in our testing — but we recommend aiming slightly higher than the official recommended speeds if you want your Netflix streaming to be as buffer-free as possible.
To check your internet speed, connect to a VPN server and complete a speed test using fast.com. Fast.com is owned by Netflix, so the speed test is completed on the company’s own servers — giving you the most accurate results possible.
By comparison, our research found that other speed testing tools like Ookla overestimate your VPN speed and lead to unrealistic expectations of what streaming quality you can expect.
A sample result from fast.com, an internet speed testing site owned by Netflix.
To optimize and increase your internet speed for streaming Netflix you should connect to the closest VPN server you possibly can. This means your internet connection will not be routed via a far-away server, minimizing any connection speed loss and keeping your streaming interruption-free.
To further speed up your Netflix VPN, make sure to use a VPN encryption protocol that’s optimized for speed. For the very fastest speeds, we recommend connecting to WireGuard if your VPN supports it. Otherwise, connect using OpenVPN UDP or IKEv2.
If you are still experiencing slowdowns with Netflix when connected to a VPN server, try reconnecting to another server in the same country and retest your internet speeds. Some popular server locations can become congested and frustratingly slow. Less popular server locations have fewer active users at a given time, often resulting in dramatically better speeds.
Is it Legal to Use a VPN with Netflix?
It is completely legal to use a VPN with Netflix. There is no law preventing Netflix users from using a VPN to access different international catalogs, so there is no risk that watching Netflix with a VPN will result in any form of legal penalty.
Many users are worried that by bypassing content geo-restrictions they are somehow committing an act of piracy. Piracy is illegal because it allows people to access copyrighted material they have not paid for, but by using a VPN with Netflix you are still paying for your Netflix subscription.
Simply put, using a VPN with Netflix doesn’t allow you to access content for free, it just allows you to bypass licensing restrictions.
As a result, you technically could be banned from Netflix for using a VPN. However, we have not seen a single example case to suggest this has ever been enforced on a user. In practice, you will not be banned from Netflix if you are caught using a VPN. The worst that will happen is that you will not be able to watch the content you’re looking for while using a VPN.
How to Bypass the Netflix Proxy Error
If you’re using a VPN with Netflix and you encounter the “proxy error” message, follow the steps below:
- Use one of the VPNs we recommend – that should be enough to avoid the streaming error message.
- If you’re still having problems with accessing Netflix, connect to a number of different VPN servers in the same country. If you still can’t access Netflix, simply contact the VPN’s customer service. They’ll quickly tell you which servers are working for Netflix.
What is Smart DNS?
Smart DNS is a technology provided by some VPN services that allows you to spoof your location and access region-restricted Netflix libraries on devices that are not VPN-compatible. Smart DNS proxies will work with Apple TV, smart TVs, and game consoles, whereas VPNs do not.
Your ordinary ISP-assigned DNS address contains details that expose your true location, so Smart DNS proxies work by routing your DNS requests through a dedicated DNS server somewhere else in the world. This is what allows you to access Netflix content in regions outside of your own.
Smart DNS is complicated technology that requires a lot of overhead, so only a select few VPN providers include it in your subscription. These providers are ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost. Our tests found ExpressVPN’s Smart DNS to be the most reliable.
Unlike a VPN, Smart DNS technology does not encrypt your online traffic — leaving your activity exposed to your ISP and other third-parties. This is fine if you’re just using Smart DNS for accessing Netflix libraries, but make sure to connect to a full VPN service for everything else.
Smart DNS services do not allow you to unblock as many Netflix catalogs as full VPNs, either. This is because Smart DNS is a relatively complicated technology, so VPN providers typically only configure their Smart DNS service to unblock American Netflix.
CyberGhost’s Smart DNS service unblocks the most Netflix libraries, but this still only allows you to stream the UK and US Netflix. On the other hand, Windscribe’s full VPN allows you to access over 40 Netflix libraries.
As a result, you should always use a VPN app over Smart DNS whenever you can. This will allow you to secure your internet connection while accessing as many geo-restricted Netflix libraries as possible. However, if you just want to watch US Netflix on an Apple TV or games console, Smart DNS is a legitimate tool for conveniently bypassing Netflix’s geo-blocks.
To find out how to set up Smart DNS, look for the instructions for your specific device on your chosen VPN provider’s website or contact its support team.
How to Watch Studio Ghibli on Netflix in the US
After 34 years, the Studio Ghibli movies, directed by Hayao Miyazaki, are finally available on Netflix.
But there’s a catch — they aren’t available on Netflix in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Japan.
How do you watch Studio Ghibli Movies on Netflix in the US? Just follow these instructions.
Use a VPN
Using a VPN is the best way to access the Studio Ghibli movies on Netflix. No doubt about it.
This is because Netflix effectively detects other circumvention tools, like web proxies, giving you the dreaded proxy error screen and blocking you from accessing geo-restricted content.
This block is so effective, in fact, that even most VPNs don’t work with Netflix.
All of our five recommendations do work to unblock Netflix, though, so make sure to only stick with these providers.
What Is the Best VPN Server Location to Unblock Studio Ghibli?
The best countries to connect to watch Studio Ghibli movies on Netflix in the US and Canada are:
- Costa Rica
Screenshot from Browserleaks.com showing a Costa Rica IP address, despite connecting from London, UK.
These are the closest countries to the US and Canada with Netflix libraries that have access to Studio Ghibli movies.
The benefit of connecting to a nearby VPN server is that your internet speeds stay as fast as possible.
This is essential to keep your Studio Ghibli movies buffer-free and in the highest possible definition — a good VPN on a good internet connection will be able to stream Studio Ghibli Netflix content in HD.
When Are the Studio Ghibli Movies Released on Netflix?
All of the Studio Ghibli films are available now on Netflix. These include:
- Spirited Away
- My Neighbor Totoro
- Kiki’s Delivery Service
- Howl’s Moving Castle
So once you connect to a VPN server in a country like the UK or Panama, all the Studio Ghibli movies will be available immediately to stream.
Can I Watch Studio Ghibli Movies in the US Without a VPN?
If you have the budget, there is another way to get your hands on the Studio Ghibli films in the US.
All 21 of the films are available on HBO Max, the WarnerMedia streaming service. But, sadly for fans of Miyazaki, HBO Max costs a pricey $15 a month, making it the most expensive streaming service on the market.
Alternatively, you can purchase the films individually, but for $15 each. This means having to splash out $315 for the full catalog.
How to Unblock Netflix on Apple TV
Apple doesn’t allow VPN apps on its Apple TV App Store, so the simplest way to unblock Netflix on Apple TV is to set up a Smart DNS proxy. Smart DNS allows you to stream geo-blocked content directly on your Apple TV.
Of our recommendations, only ExpressVPN, Surfshark, and CyberGhost allow you to unblock Netflix on Apple TV using Smart DNS. After signing up for one of these VPN services, you will be given a unique DNS address. All you have to do is replace your Apple TV’s DNS address with the new one from your VPN provider.
There is one drawback, though: Smart DNS can only unblock US and UK Netflix.
This should get you access to most of the Netflix movies and TV shows you need, but if you crave even more on your Apple TV, you’ll have to either install a VPN on your existing router or set up a virtual router. You can read more on router configuration in the section below.
While other publications still suggest that the best way to unblock Netflix on your Apple TV is to use the content-beaming AirPlay functionality on your iOS device, these instructions are now useless as Netflix has blocked this functionality for over a year.
Can I unblock Netflix by setting up the VPN on a router?
Yes, configuring your router with a VPN is a very effective method to unblock Netflix. This will allow you to stream Netflix on devices that do not support VPNs, like a Chromecast or PS4.
Installing a VPN on your router is trickier than on other devices, though, and most routers do not support VPN software. You can find detailed instructions on how to install a VPN on your router in our step-by-step tutorial.
However, because of the difficulty involved, all five of our recommended Netflix VPNs sell pre-configured routers. These routers are expensive, but they save you the hassle of a complicated set up process and will allow you to unblock Netflix on all of your devices.
Some VPN services, such as ExpressVPN, even come with a router app that has a graphical interface, making changing VPN router settings and server locations easy.
ExpressVPN’s app for routers allows you to unblock Netflix on all of your devices.
If this sounds too difficult or too expensive, you can also set up a virtual router or mobile hotspot using a desktop or laptop computer.
Virtual routers and mobile hotspots can be set up on both Windows and Mac devices and are a lot simpler than configuring a physical router with a VPN.
Simply, this method involves setting up a virtual router on your computer before connecting to a VPN in the usual way. You then share your computer’s VPN-enabled connection with all of your other devices, allowing you to unblock Netflix everywhere.
To learn how to set up a virtual router on your Windows or Mac device, read our beginner-friendly guide.