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Best VPN for Streaming in 2020

Streaming laptop.
Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio

The best VPN for streaming will unblock all video content from anywhere in the world. A VPN vastly increases the number of shows and movies you can watch.

After extensively testing and analyzing 70 VPN services, we found ExpressVPN to be the best at unblocking US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and much more.

However, all of our five best VPNs for streaming will give you reliable and buffer-free access to geo-blocked video content from any location.

The best VPNs for streaming in September 2020 are:

  1. ExpressVPN: The #1 streaming VPN that unblocks every service, including US Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. Read summary
  2. CyberGhost: A fast budget VPN with dedicated streaming servers for easy worldwide streaming. Read summary
  3. PrivateVPN: One of the cheapest VPNs that unlocks over 30 Netflix libraries. Read summary
  4. NordVPN: Very fast VPN that works with many popular streaming platforms. Read summary
  5. Surfshark: An affordable and easy to use VPN with access to 15 Netflix libraries. Read summary

All these VPNs are fast, safe and have native apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Fire TV. ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, NordVPN, and Surfshark also come with SmartDNS functionality, which is essential for Apple TV, PS4 and Xbox users.

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See How We Review VPNs.

5 Best VPNs for Unrestricted Streaming

1. ExpressVPN

Ranked #1 out of 70 VPNs for Streaming

  1. Unblocks Netflix & iPlayer with ease
  2. Impressive & reliable VPN speeds
  3. Native Amazon Fire TV app
  4. Range of simple custom apps, instant setup
  5. Minimal logging
  6. VPN servers in 94 countries
  1. Fairly expensive on shorter plans
  2. BBC iPlayer not always available within the UK
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    94 countries, 3,000+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

ExpressVPN is without a doubt the best VPN around – and that includes streaming.

This Panama-based VPN service allows you to access Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more from wherever you are with ease.

When it comes to speed, ExpressVPN is the most consistent and reliable VPN we’ve ever tested.

ExpressVPN is very fast on both short-distance and long-distance VPN connections, with no interference or connection drops.

This unrivaled level of performance is ideal for buffer-free streaming. You’ll be able to watch all your favorite TV shows in HD – or even 4K.

ExpressVPN isn’t only speedy, but safe and private, too. It maintains a privacy-first logging policy, with no personally identifiable logs, and we’ve never experienced any IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks during our tests.

There is one drawback, though.

While watching BBC iPlayer is simple for users located outside the UK, ExpressVPN is less reliable for iPlayer access within the UK.

Users in the UK can use the split tunneling tool to route iPlayer traffic outside the VPN, but remember that this traffic won’t be protected.

Our second best VPN for streaming might be better suited to UK users who want to watch BBC iPlayer privately – if that describes you then read on.

For a more in-depth look, read our full ExpressVPN review.

2. CyberGhost

Ranked #2 out of 70 VPNs for Streaming

  1. Easy access to Netflix, iPlayer & other popular sites
  2. Very fast VPN speeds
  3. Amazon Fire TV Stick app available
  4. Simple setup on most popular devices
  5. No-logs policy
  6. VPN servers in 90 countries
  1. No P2P or Kodi on Fire TV Stick
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    87Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 6,400+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

CyberGhost comes a close second for the best VPN for streaming.

Dedicated servers make accessing TV shows and movies on specific streaming platforms hassle-free, and you can set up the VPN on your Fire TV Stick quickly and easily.

CyberGhost is a fast VPN, but it can’t compete with ExpressVPN’s level of reliability.

While it may be faster on some same-country connections, CyberGhost’s speeds lag behind ExpressVPN over longer distance VPN connections.

With an ever-growing VPN server network – you can currently connect to a total of 90 countries – you’ll be able to watch loads of geo-specific content wherever you are in the world.

CyberGhost’s custom VPN apps are easy to use, good-looking, and, most importantly, safe.

A no-logs policy will ensure your online activities remain private, and CyberGhost has never leaked our IP address or DNS requests during any of our tests.

If you ever run into any issues when streaming with CyberGhost you can contact a member of the customer support team via live chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Unfortunately, you can’t use Kodi alongside CyberGhost’s Fire TV Stick app, and there are some slight restrictions on P2P traffic. If that’s your #1 priority, ExpressVPN is your best option.

For a more in-depth look, read our full CyberGhost review.

3. PrivateVPN

Ranked #3 out of 70 VPNs for Streaming

  1. Servers labeled for accessing Netflix & iPlayer
  2. Impressive VPN speeds
  3. Custom app for Amazon Fire TV
  4. Easy setup on various popular platforms
  5. Strict no-logs policy
  6. VPN servers in 59 countries
  1. Small number of individual servers
  2. Live chat feature available intermittently
  • Best Price

    $1.89/mo over 24 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    86Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    60 countries, 150+ servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

PrivateVPN is a budget-friendly VPN that makes streaming simple by labeling the servers that unlock certain services, like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more.

Unlike CyberGhost, you don’t have to commit to two or more years of service to access the big discounts.

But don’t let its low price affect your expectations – PrivateVPN is top quality.

With super fast speeds, intuitive apps, and a privacy-friendly no-logs policy, PrivateVPN is the ideal VPN service for those who love streaming without compromising their online privacy.

You can install PrivateVPN on your Amazon Fire TV Stick in minutes with its effective native app, and it works well with Kodi, too.

Our only gripes are PrivateVPN’s fairly small VPN server network (with just 150 individual servers worldwide) and its inconsistent live chat support.

Nevertheless, PrivateVPN’s small VPN server network hasn’t affected its speeds yet, and the apps are so simple to use that you shouldn’t need to contact customer support.

For a more in-depth look, read our full PrivateVPN review.

4. NordVPN

Ranked #4 out of 70 VPNs for Streaming

  1. High speed access to Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+ & more
  2. Consistently fast VPN speeds
  3. Easy setup on wide range of devices
  4. No-logs policy
  5. VPN servers in 59 countries
  1. Netflix & other services not supported on Fire TV Stick
  2. Responded poorly to server breach
  • Best Price

    $3.71/mo over 24 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    93Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    59 countries, 5,394 servers

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

NordVPN is one of the best VPNs on the market and it’s a great choice for streaming, too – that is unless you want to watch via a streaming device.

While NordVPN works well with the most popular streaming services (including Disney+) through its desktop and mobile apps, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and the like are currently blocked on the Fire TV Stick app and router connections.

NordVPN’s customer support team has told us that its engineers are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

Despite that flaw, NordVPN is one of the fastest VPNs you can buy, so you shouldn’t have any troubles streaming in HD or 4K on your computer or smartphone.

It’s also a very safe and private VPN with a no-logs policy and no IP, DNS, or WebRTC leaks.

However, we feel it’s important to make you aware of a security incident involving NordVPN. In October 2019 it came to light that a NordVPN server had been breached by a hacker.

No user information was taken, no data was logged, and the VPN encrypted tunnel wasn’t compromised. That said, it exploited a worryingly simple vulnerability, and we were disappointed by NordVPN’s delayed response.

NordVPN is still a very good VPN, but it’s something to consider before you buy.

For a more in-depth look, read our full NordVPN review.

5. Surfshark

Ranked #5 out of 70 VPNs for Streaming

  1. Watch Netflix hassle-free
  2. Fast speeds on nearby VPN servers
  3. No logging
  4. User-friendly VPN app for Fire TV Stick
  5. Easy to set up on range of popular devices
  6. VPN servers in 61 countries
  1. Not quite as fast as our top VPN picks
  2. Access to BBC iPlayer inconsistent
  • Best Price

    $2.49/mo over two-years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    66 countries

  • Compatible with

    • Windows logoWindows
    • Mac logoMac
    • iOS logoiOS
    • Android logoAndroid
    • Linux logoLinux

The Bottom Line

Surfshark is a newcomer to the VPN industry but it’s already one of the best VPNs around for streaming.

You can watch 15 different Netflix libraries through Surfshark’s VPN servers. You can also watch the newly released Disney+ through Surfshark’s US servers too.

Surfshark is a fairly quick VPN service, too, even if it still has some way to go before it can compete with our other VPN recommendations on this page.

Access to BBC iPlayer has been inconsistent, but you can usually watch it through the browser extension. This doesn’t provide the same privacy levels as the VPN apps themselves, though.

In addition to the intuitive custom VPN apps for desktop and mobile devices, Surfshark also comes with an effective VPN app for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.

Founded in 2018, Surfshark may be new, but it does privacy right with a no-logs policy and plenty of security extras.

If you need help to set up or uses the apps to stream your favorite shows the Surfshark customer support team is on hand 24/7 via live chat.

For a more in-depth look, read our full Surfshark review.

VPNs for Streaming FAQ

Do You Need a VPN for Streaming?

If you use the internet, you need a VPN. It’s as simple as that.

Keeping your online activities private is one of the main reasons for using a VPN, but the benefits don’t stop there, particularly when it comes to streaming.

Using a VPN can greatly improve your streaming experience. Here’s how:

1Accessing geo-restricted content.

Did you know that there are different Netflix libraries, and the number of shows and movies available to you depends on your geographical location?

For example, US Netflix has over 5,500 titles whereas Australia only has 2,000.

You can use a VPN to unlock the world’s content.

If you’re a US sports fan you’ll know all about blackouts, and it can be frustrating when you can’t see your team playing because of where you live.

You can use a VPN to get around those blocks. Just make sure to connect to a server in the state or location where the stream is available to watch.

2Bypassing censorship.

Some countries (or institutions like schools) block access to certain streaming content and platforms.

Using a VPN is the best and safest way to beat government and institutional censorship.

If you need a VPN for a particularly strict regime take a look at the following guides:

3Preventing ISP throttling.

In some countries ISPs can deliberately slow down your internet speeds when you try to perform certain tasks like streaming and torrenting. This is called throttling.

The way ISPs know what you’re doing online is by inspecting your data, but when you use a VPN they can’t tell what you’re doing as the software encrypts all of your internet traffic.

This means less buffering and faster speeds next time you go to watch your favorite show.

Of course, the most important reason for using a VPN is still to protect your online privacy from snooping ISPs and government bodies, and stop third parties or hackers from stealing your personal data.

Best VPN for HBO Max

Image of the HBO Max brand logo.

The best VPNs for HBO Max are:

  1. ExpressVPN
  2. NordVPN
  3. Surfshark
  4. CyberGhost
  5. PrivateVPN

Based on our extensive testing, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for HBO Max. ExpressVPN unblocked HBO Max and allowed us to stream content like Spirited Away, Friends, and Game of Thrones in HD from outside the US.

HBO Max is a new streaming service from WarnerMedia and has been introduced as a premium alternative to HBO Now and HBO Go, which are the company’s existing services.

HBO Max provides all the TV shows and movies from HBO’s other streaming services but also includes content from the full WarnerMedia library, along with licensed content from third-parties. You can read more on the TV shows and movies you can stream on HBO Max with a VPN in the section below.

All of our best VPNs for streaming work with HBO Max, but some fared worse than others. Our tests found that VPNs with dedicated HBO streaming servers, like CyberGhost and PrivateVPN, were significantly slower than VPNs with no dedicated server. As a result, we were unable to stream any HBO content in HD when using these VPN services.

This poor speed performance is a result of server congestion, where there are too many users connected to a single server at one time. VPN services that unblock HBO Max without a dedicated server, like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark, are preferable as they are able to balance server load over a wider range of servers — resulting in dramatic speed and performance improvements.

What to Watch on HBO Max?

All of the following TV shows and movies are available on HBO Max:

  • Chernobyl
  • Doctor Who
  • Friends
  • Game of Thrones
  • Gossip Girl
  • Harry Potter
  • Looney Tunes Cartoons
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Rick & Morty
  • South Park
  • Spirited Away
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • The Office
  • The Sopranos
  • The Studio Ghibli Movies
  • Top Gear
  • Westworld
  • Zack Synder’s Justice League (coming 2021)

What’s the Best Free VPN for Streaming?

In general, free VPNs aren’t good for streaming.

They rarely work to unlock Netflix and other streaming services, and often come with restrictive data and speed caps.

Sometimes that means you can only watch a couple of hours of shows in standard definition before your data allowance runs out.

We’ve tested loads of free VPNs, and some of the unsafe VPNs work with Netflix, but it’s not worth risking your online security and privacy just to watch a show.

There’s only one safe free VPN we’ve found that works with Netflix and that’s Windscribe Free. It comes with a 10GB monthly data limit, but works surprisingly well for a free VPN. You can read more about Windscribe Free in our guide to the top free VPNs for Netflix.

Alternatively, you can also try out some premium VPNs risk-free before you commit to a lengthy subscription. Follow the links to read our guides on how to try out some of the best VPNs for free:

What to Do if Your VPN Doesn’t Work for Streaming

Streaming services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer have ways of blocking content for users connecting through a VPN.

The way the streaming services do this is by blocking IP addresses that they believe belong to VPN servers.

This may happen when large numbers of users are trying to access the service using the same IP address, which raises suspicion.

The crackdowns come in waves, and sometimes it’s near impossible to watch your favorite shows while using a VPN, but all the VPN services on our list of recommendations work hard to get around the blocks, even if it is like a game of cat and mouse.

You’ll know when content has been blocked because you’re using an IP when you she the annoying proxy error message:

“Oops, something went wrong…”

Screenshot of Netflix error message

Here are some ways you can troubleshoot this issue:

  1. Run a leak test to see if your VPN is leaking your IP address or DNS requests. If it is, get in touch with the customer support to resolve the issue or change providers. You should enable leak protection from within the VPN app if it comes with those settings.
  2. Clear your cache and cookies, flush your DNS cache, and then relaunch Netflix (or the relevant streaming service).
  3. Try connecting to a different VPN server and repeat solution #2. If there are no dedicated streaming servers, you should contact your VPN provider’s customer support team to find out which VPN servers are currently working with your chosen streaming service.
  4. Try accessing the streaming service using a different browser. Sometimes you can access a certain service through Mozilla Firefox even if it’s not working on Google Chrome, for instance.
  5. Disable GPS and location services on your computer, smartphone, or browser.
  6. Disable IPv6 at a device-level.
  7. If you’ve been trying to access your chosen service through an app, try again via web browser.

If all of these solutions fail you’ll likely need to try a different VPN service.

The VPN providers recommended in this guide are the most reliable VPNs for streaming that we’ve tested.

Are Free VPNs Safe?

There are loads of free VPNs available, but not all of them are safe to use.

In fact, some free VPNs are dangerous.

We’ve investigated what actually goes on behind the scenes at free VPN companies, and the results are concerning.

Over half of the most popular free VPN apps we looked into have links to China, and many feature excessive permissions or functions with potential for privacy abuses.

If you aren’t ready to purchase a VPN yet take a look at our list of the best free VPNs here, which are all safe to use.

Which VPNs Work with Disney+?

We tested 20 of our top-rated VPN services with Disney+ and the results were pretty definitive.

Walt Disney’s streaming platform is actively blocking many VPN users from signing up for an account and viewing content.

But fear not, it’s still possible to watch your favorite Disney shows and films with these five VPNs:

However, you’ll need to sign up using a payment method registered to a country where Disney Plus is available.

Read our best VPN for Disney+ guide to see how to unblock Disney+ if you don’t live in one of those countries.

Is it Illegal to Stream with a VPN?

Screenshot of BBC iPlayer FAQs

With the exception of a few countries, it’s perfectly legal to use a VPN when streaming in order to protect your online privacy.

Local and state laws still apply, though.

In other words, if you do something illegal while using a VPN you could still be punished if caught.

If you’re not breaking the law and you opt for a quality VPN service it’s safe to use a VPN for streaming.

You should also be aware that streaming platforms tend to state in their terms of service that users shouldn’t try to access content restricted in their geographical region.

Bad VPNs for Streaming

Like all things, there are good and bad VPNs for streaming.

Here are some good VPNs that are bad for streaming:

Most free VPNs aren’t good choices for streaming either. This is partly due to data and speed restrictions, and partly because free VPN services generally don’t make the effort to get past Netflix (and BBC iPlayer) blocks.

There are loads of other VPNs available that aren’t ideal for avid streaming fans.

If you’re not sure which VPN to choose, it’s best to go for one of the VPN services we’ve recommended in this guide.

Most of the top VPNs also come with money-back guarantees, so you can test out the service and request a refund if it’s not to your liking.

How to Use a VPN for Streaming

Before you can protect your streaming traffic you need to set up your VPN software.

We have step-by-step installation guides available for the following platforms (follow the links to read each one):

If your VPN service comes with custom apps then the installation process is very simple.

Just download the VPN software and follow the installation prompts. Once installed, you should log into the app using your credentials.

Before you do anything else on the internet you should ensure that the VPN security settings are enabled. Switch on the VPN kill switch and any leak protection that comes with it.

Once you’ve set up the software, it’s easy to use a VPN for streaming.

Simply connect to a VPN server and start streaming videos.

It’s a little more complicated for certain services, though.

Firstly, if you want to watch Netflix, Hulu, or similar streaming services you’ll have to buy a subscription.

While using a VPN can unlock a host of different Netflix libraries, you can’t get Netflix for free with a VPN.

Once you’ve purchased your subscription, you can use a VPN to protect the streaming traffic.

Make sure to connect to streaming-friendly servers if your VPN service provides them.

Screenshot of CyberGhost streaming servers

What’s the Best VPN for Kodi?

If you are using Kodi, particularly for P2P streaming, it’s essential to use a quality VPN service to protect your privacy.

The best VPN for Kodi is IPVanish. It comes with a no-logs policy, no restrictions on P2P traffic, and all the security features you need to stay private while streaming on Kodi.

You can read our guide to the best VPNs for Kodi here.

Does a VPN Slow Down Your Internet?

Yes and no.

If your ISP throttles your speed while you are streaming or torrenting, using a VPN can prevent that, which will effectively speed up your internet connection.

However, in the majority of cases using a VPN will slow down your internet speeds. But if you use a good VPN it won’t be noticeable.

In order to experience the best speeds you should connect to the nearest server to your physical location.

The VPNs recommended in this guide only slow down your download speeds by around 10Mbps on same-country connections.

That means that you’ll be able to stream smoothly, with little interruption. But that depends on how quick your connection is before you use a VPN.

Some VPN protocols are faster than others, too, but sometimes improved performance can mean decreased security.

We generally recommend OpenVPN, which offers the best balance between privacy and performance, but IKEv2 may produce faster speeds and it’s also considered very secure.

About the Author

  • Simon Migliano Head of Research at Top10VPN

    Simon Migliano

    Simon is a recognized world expert in VPNs. He's tested hundreds of VPN services and his research has featured on the BBC, The New York Times, CNet and more. Read full bio