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The Best VPNs for Streaming

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 movies and TV shows from anywhere in the world, giving you reliable, unrestricted and buffer-free access to HD video content.

After testing and reviewing 69 VPN services, ExpressVPN came out on top as the best VPN for unblocking the most streaming services, including US Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, and many more.

However, all five of the VPN services in this list will spoof your IP address and provide fast, reliable access to geo-blocked content.

The best VPNs for streaming in February 2021 are:

  1. ExpressVPN: The best VPN for streaming Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video. Read summary
  2. PrivateVPN: A cheap VPN that unblocks over 30 Netflix libraries. Read summary
  3. NordVPN: The fastest VPN for international streaming. Read summary
  4. Surfshark: A secure streaming VPN that’s great for Disney+. Read summary
  5. CyberGhost: A budget VPN with Smart DNS and 100+ streaming servers. Read summary

The streaming VPNs above are fast, secure and have native apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Fire TV. Most also come with Smart DNS functionality, which is ideal for streaming with a VPN on Apple TV, PlayStation and Xbox.

Wondering why you should trust our reviews?
See How We Review VPNs.

5 Best VPNs for Streaming in HD in 2021

1. ExpressVPN: Best for Netflix

The best overall VPN for streaming Hulu, HBO, Netflix, and Prime Video.

  1. Unblocks 19 Netflix libraries incl. US
  2. Impressive & reliable VPN speeds
  3. Native Amazon Fire TV app
  4. Range of user-friendly apps & Smart DNS
  5. Minimal anonymous logging
  6. VPN servers in 94 countries
  1. Fairly expensive on shorter plans
  2. Inconsistent access to BBC iPlayer
  • Best Price

    $6.67/mo over 15 Months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    88Mbps 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 the best VPN for streaming. It allows you to access Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more with the most consistent and reliable speeds we’ve ever tested. It’s very fast on both short-distance and long-distance 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. Streaming BBC iPlayer is rather inconsistent due to the BBC’s increased efforts to block VPN traffic. Users in the UK can however use ExpressVPN’s split tunneling tool to route BBC iPlayer traffic outside the VPN.

For reliable access to BBC iPlayer, both PrivateVPN and NordVPN are better choices right now.

ExpressVPN works with:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO Max

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

2. PrivateVPN: Cheapest Streaming VPN

A cheap streaming VPN that unblocks 30+ international Netflix libraries.

  1. Works with many streaming apps
  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 60 countries
  1. Small number of individual servers
  2. Live chat feature available intermittently
  3. No Smart DNS tool
  4. No VPN browser extensions
  • Best Price

    $1.98/mo over 24 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    94Mbps 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 cheap VPN that makes streaming simple. It labels the servers that unlock specific services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and more. It also offers fast speeds, intuitive apps, and a privacy-friendly no-logs policy, which makes PrivateVPN an ideal VPN service for those who love streaming without compromising on their online privacy.

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

Unlike CyberGhost, you don’t have to commit to a subscription of two or more years to access the big price discounts – PrivateVPN is cheap on even the shortest subscription plans. But don’t let its low price affect your expectations – this VPN is top quality.

The only drawbacks are PrivateVPN’s fairly small VPN server network (with just 150+ individual servers worldwide) and its inconsistent live chat support. It’s also the only VPN in this list that doesn’t offer Smart DNS functionality or VPN browser extensions.

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. If you’re looking for an affordable VPN for streaming reliably, this is a great choice.

PrivateVPN works with:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Prime Video
  • HBO Max

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

3. NordVPN: Best for BBC iPlayer

The fastest VPN for streaming geo-blocked content in HD.

  1. High speed access to Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+ & more
  2. Consistently fast VPN speeds
  3. Includes app for Amazon Fire TV & Smart DNS functionality
  4. Easy setup on wide range of devices
  5. Verified no-logs policy
  6. VPN servers in 59 countries
  1. Responded poorly to server breach
  2. Some issues unblocking Netflix on Firestick
  • 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, 5,533 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. It works well with most popular streaming services including US Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu. It comes with a fully-featured app for Fire TV Stick and it includes a Smart DNS feature for devices like PlayStation 4 and Apple TV.

NordVPN is also the fastest VPN for streaming, so you shouldn’t have to experience any buffering when streaming in HD or 4K on your computer or smartphone. We measured speed loss of just 2% when connected to nearby servers.

There are no servers dedicated to streaming like the ones offered by CyberGhost or HideMyAss. That’s because NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature does the hard work for you – you can pick any US server and it will automatically unblock all your favorite Netflix shows.

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.

NordVPN works with:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Prime Video
  • HBO Max

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

4. Surfshark: Best for Disney+

Fast speeds, Smart DNS, and access to 8 international streaming services.

  1. Works with all major streaming platforms
  2. Fast speeds on nearby VPN servers
  3. No web usage logging
  4. User-friendly VPN app for Fire TV Stick
  5. Easy to set up on range of popular devices
  6. VPN servers in 66 countries
  1. Not quite as fast as its top rivals
  2. Access to BBC iPlayer inconsistent
  • Best Price

    $2.49/mo over 24 months

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    85Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    66 countries, 3,200+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

Surfshark is an excellent VPN for accessing blocked content on Netflix and other streaming websites. It consistently unblocks region restrictions with fast loading, no lag, and high video quality.

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

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

You can watch 15 different Netflix libraries through Surfshark’s VPN servers. You can also watch the newly released Disney+ through every single Surfshark server, too. For this reason, we recommend it as the best VPN for Disney+.

Access to BBC iPlayer has been temperamental, but you can unblock it through the browser extensions. This doesn’t offer the same level of privacy as the VPN applications themselves, though.

Surfshark is so reliable for streaming because of its Smart DNS and Trust DNS features, which act as a proxy to help to unblock content reliably.

Founded in 2018, Surfshark may be new, but it does privacy right with a no-logs policy and plenty of security extras. It’s also very affordable – offering all of these features for just $2.49 per month on a two-year subscription.

Surfshark works with:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • BBC iPlayer
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • HBO Max
  • Sky
  • Kodi

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

5. CyberGhost: Easiest Streaming VPN

A fast, no-logs VPN with dedicated streaming servers and Smart DNS.

  1. Easy access to Netflix, Disney+ & other popular sites
  2. Very fast VPN speeds
  3. Amazon Fire TV Stick app available
  4. Easy to use apps for all devices + Smart DNS tool
  5. Doesn't collect personally-identifiable logs
  6. VPN servers in 90 countries
  1. Slower international speeds
  2. Limited VPN extensions
  • Best Price

    $2.75/mo over 3 years

    See all plans

  • Top Speedi

    89Mbps same city speed

    Based on a 100Mbps test connection

  • Servers

    90 countries, 6,700+ servers

  • Compatible with

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

The Bottom Line

CyberGhost is an excellent VPN for streaming. It offers dedicated servers for different streaming platforms and unblocks 4 major Netflix libraries including the US, UK, Germany, and France. These streaming servers change their IP address frequently to help avoid the bans put in place by services like Netflix.

CyberGhost is so effective at bypassing geo-blocks because it comes with a Smart DNS tool. This technology changes both your IP address and the DNS server that your traffic is routed through. You can find out how to configure Smart DNS on CyberGhost’s support website.

The VPN’s applications also make streaming simple by highlighting the server locations that support the platforms you need. There are 90 countries available and connection speeds are fast enough for HD-quality video. You can also set up the VPN on your Fire TV Stick quickly and easily.

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

CyberGhost’s custom VPN apps are easy to use, good-looking, and, most importantly, safe. A no-logs policy ensures 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.

There’s very few downsides to using CyberGhost, other than it no longer unblocks BBC iPlayer, and its VPN browser extensions are too basic and nowhere near as good as ExpressVPN’s.

CyberGhost works with:

  • US Netflix
  • Hulu
  • Disney+
  • Prime Video
  • HBO Max

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

Why Do You Need a VPN for Streaming?

Using a VPN can greatly improve your streaming experience by unblocking thousands of movies and TV shows that aren’t available in your physical location.

Streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime Video restrict certain movies and TV shows to users in specific locations. For example, US Netflix has over 5,500 titles whereas Australia only has 2,000.

These regional-restrictions can be irritating if you want to watch a movie or TV show that’s not available in your country.

When you use a VPN, you hide your IP address and mask your location so that streaming websites think you’re browsing from a different country. This allows you to watch all of the content that’s unavailable in your region.

Since the Netflix VPN ban it has become increasingly difficult to find a VPN provider that can reliably unblock major streaming platforms. Most services are now very effective at identifying and banning IP addresses belonging to VPN servers.

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.

There are still a handful of high-quality VPN services that consistently work to unblock international streaming libraries with fast speeds and low prices. Just make sure to connect to a server in the country where the movie or TV show is available to watch.

How to Use a VPN for Streaming

Before you can protect your streaming traffic you need to set up your VPN software. If your chosen VPN service comes with custom apps then the installation process is very simple. Once you’ve set up the software, it’s easy to use a VPN for streaming.

To stream movies and TV shows with a VPN:

  1. Subscribe to your chosen VPN service.
  2. Download the VPN software and follow the installation prompts. Once installed, log into the app using your subscription credentials.
  3. Switch on the VPN kill switch and any leak protection.
  4. Choose the country you’d like to connect to and select a VPN server in that location.
  5. Once connected, navigate to the streaming service you’d like to access and log in as normal.
  6. You’ll now have access to all of the movies and TV shows available in that country.

If you want to watch Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, or similar streaming services you’ll have to buy a subscription to those platforms first. While using a VPN can unlock different international content libraries, it can’t get you free access to each platform.

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

Is it Illegal to Stream with a VPN?

With the exception of a few countries, it’s perfectly legal to use a VPN when streaming. Local and state laws still apply, though – if you do something illegal while using a VPN you could still be punished if caught.

In the US, UK, and most European countries there are no laws preventing you from using a VPN to access different international content libraries. In other words, there is no risk that streaming with a VPN will result in any form of legal penalty.

Many users are worried that bypassing geo-restrictions is somehow similar to piracy. Piracy is illegal because it allows people to access copyrighted material they have not paid for. When you use a VPN for streaming, you still pay for the platform you’re accessing.

Simply put, using a streaming VPN doesn’t allow you to access content for free, it simply allows you to circumvent licensing restrictions.

It’s worth noting that while using a VPN for streaming isn’t illegal, some streaming platforms state that accessing geo-blocked content is against their terms of service.

Which VPNs are Bad for Streaming?

There are good and bad VPNs for streaming. Most free VPNs aren’t good choices for streaming due to data and speed restrictions, and the majority don’t make a dedicated effort to get past VPN bans.

The best VPNs for streaming will offer dedicated servers, Smart DNS, and consistently fast international speeds. These features cost a lot to maintain though, which means many popular VPN services simply don’t make the cut.

Popular VPNs that are bad for streaming include:

There are hundreds of other VPNs available that aren’t ideal for avid streaming fans. If you’d like a reliable service, we recommend choosing one of the VPN providers mentioned in this article.

Most of our recommended streaming VPNs also come with money-back guarantees, so you can test out the service and request a refund if it’s not up to scratch.

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.

They do this is by blocking IP addresses that they believe belong to VPN servers.

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

These bans come in waves, and it’s often impossible to predict. However, all of the VPN services in this list work hard to get around these blocks, even if it is like a game of cat and mouse.

You’ll know when your VPN IP address has been blocked because you’ll see a proxy error message similar to the following:

Screenshot of Netflix error message

If your VPN isn’t working for streaming, try following these troubleshooting tips:

  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.

Streaming VPN FAQs

What’s the best free VPN for streaming?

Free VPN services are usually not very effective at unblocking streaming services. In addition, they often come with restrictive data and speed caps.

There’s only one safe free VPN we’ve found that consistently works for streaming, and that’s Windscribe Free. It has a 10GB monthly data cap, but it’s incredibly effective for a free VPN service.

Alternatively, you can also try most premium VPNs for free before you commit to a lengthy subscription. You can do this by taking advantage of their free trials or money-back guarantees.

What is the best VPN for Hulu?

After Netflix, Hulu is the most difficult streaming service to access with a VPN. All of Hulu’s movies and TV shows are strictly blocked for anyone from outside of the US.

Trying to watch Hulu with most VPNs results in this error message:

“It looks like you’re using an anonymous proxy or VPN. You’ll need to disable it to watch Hulu”

Bypass Hulu proxy error

Hulu displays an error message when it detects a VPN.

To calculate the best VPN for Hulu, we tested a number of randomized US servers from all of our top-rated streaming VPNs.

We found that the best VPNs for Hulu are:

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

We found that ExpressVPN is the best VPN for Hulu. We were able to stream shows like Fargo, The Simpsons, and The Handmaid’s Tale, all in HD. As ExpressVPN comes with a Smart DNS feature, we were also able to unblock Hulu on our Apple TV and PS4/PS5, too.

PrivateVPN and NordVPN worked with Hulu on all of the US servers we tested, but CyberGhost and Surfshark only worked on 66% of its servers. We were able to quickly find a working server, but we recommend avoiding these VPNs if you watch Hulu regularly.

What is the best VPN for Amazon Prime Video?

In all of our tests, ExpressVPN was the best VPN for Amazon Prime Video. It worked on all of the VPN’s US servers and we were able to stream movies without any buffering or lag.

The best VPNs for Amazon Prime Video are:

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

CyberGhost is not recommended for Prime Video. The VPN took over three minutes to load content and it has just one dedicated server for Amazon Prime Video, meaning you can’t cycle through other servers for a faster connection. 

Amazon Prime Video has a content library four times greater than Netflix. In total, Prime Video has over 20,000 movies and TV shows. Prime Video is included with all Amazon Prime subscriptions, so you don’t need to pay an extra fee if you’re already a customer. 

However, a VPN will not unblock all geo-restricted content from Amazon Prime Video. This is because the service only allows you to stream content from the region where your account is based. For example, if your account was set up in the UK, you won’t be able to stream US Prime Video.

This makes a VPN mostly useful for watching your home version of Amazon Prime Video while traveling abroad. Or, if you do want to access a specific country’s library, you’ll have to use a digital Amazon gift card.

Amazon location settings issue

Amazon Prime Video only works with your home content library.

EXPERT TIP: To unblock the US Amazon Prime Video library, you’ll need to sign up while connected to a US VPN server and use a US payment method. If you don’t have one, you can use a digital gift card instead.

What is the best VPN for HBO Max?

Based on our extensive testing, ExpressVPN is the best VPN for HBO Max. ExpressVPN unblocked HBO Max and allowed us to stream content like Wonder Woman 1984, Spirited Away, Friends, and Game of Thrones in HD from outside the US.

The 5 best VPNs for HBO Max are:

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

All five of these recommended VPN services will provide consistent access to HBO Max with fast speeds and minimal buffering.

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.

Image of the HBO Max brand logo.

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.

Also, in 2021 Warner Bros. will release all its new movies in theaters and on HBO Max simultaneously.

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, 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 can balance server load over a wider range of servers — resulting in dramatic speed and performance improvements.

What Can I 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 (releasing 18th of March)

Which VPNs Work with Disney+?

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

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:

  • Surfshark
  • CyberGhost
  • ExpressVPN
  • NordVPN
  • ProtonVPN

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

Read our best VPN for Disney+ guide to see how to unblock Disney+ from anywhere in the world.

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.

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