Summary: Maybe you’re just traveling, or maybe you’re set up somewhere long term? Either way, you don’t have access to your favorite American Netflix shows because your IP address is telling their servers you can’t have access. So what do you do?
A VPN is a simple solution. It gives you a selection of IP addresses to choose from, so you can fool their servers into thinking you’re actually in the States! Binge-watching, here you come!
Get Buffered VPN to get instant, easy access to Netflix overseas.
Netflix has finally made its way around the world and just about every country on the planet now has access to instant streaming on any device for a low monthly payment. Life is good.
The only problem is that Netflix cares where you’re tuning in from. Even if you registered for an account in the USA, you can’t access American titles if you travel overseas.
Your internet connection comes with a location-specific IP address that tells websites roughly where you are. Websites use this information to display location-specific content.
What this means is, if you get on the internet in Australia, even if you’re an American with an account, you get Australia’s Netflix selection.
Maybe you like broadening your horizons and absorbing the local culture’s TV preferences, but if you’re a creature of comfort and prefer what’s familiar, you’re going to need to install a VPN.
VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, and it’s an online service used to encrypt a user’s internet connection. It can also be used to bypass problems such as this, known as geo-restrictions.
VPNs allow you to connect to a choice of servers located all over the world and mask your IP address with their own. Websites such as Netflix then believe you’re on the internet from somewhere else.
What this means is that not only are you an untrackable internet ninja, but you can pretend to be anywhere and access any geo-restricted content you want.
The demand for access to geo-restricted content has resulted in the market being flooded with VPN providers, but some of these providers are better than others.
To make sure you get the VPN service you need, we’ve tested and reviewed these providers to let you know which ones are legitimate and which ones are a waste of money.
The process I used to test VPN services was simple.
The first step was to create a list of every provider who claimed they could unblock Netflix geo-restrictions. This left me with a list of nine providers.
Unfortunately, Netflix announced this year they would start to block proxies and VPNs, so I also checked several notable review websites to eliminate those being targeted by Netflix.
This left me with only three services that appeared to be able to legitimately unlock Netflix’s full catalog of titles. The next step was to test these services to see which one performed the best.
There are eight criteria I used to judge the performance of the various VPN service providers. They were:
Criteria 1: Number of Connections
Most people have more than one device. They at least have a computer and a mobile device. So the first criteria I judged the VPN software on was the number of devices you can connect to the account.
We made sure our top recommendations cover enough devices so you don’t get saddled with extra fees.
Criteria 2: Money-back Guarantee
Given the variety of devices, a VPN could be used on and the diverse uses of a VPN, the second criteria I judged the VPN service on was its money-back guarantee.
It’s nice to know that you’re able to get your money back if things don’t work out for some reason. I look for at least a seven-day, money-back guarantee that includes both technical problems and issues with customer service.
Criteria 3: Data Logging
Data logging is the practice of storing a user’s browsing information such as your internet history. It’s sometimes done by internet service providers, and in rare cases, VPN providers.
What’s the point of increasing your internet security through using a VPN if your data is then just turned over to government authorities when they submit a simple request form?
Fortunately, this is only possible if the VPN provider keeps logs of your browsing data. Therefore, I looked for services that didn’t log activity of any kind.
Criteria 4: Bandwidth
This criterion refers to the data transfer rate the VPN allows. If there’s a limit on your bandwidth, it means that some services may not run as fast as others or you may be charged overage fees.
The only thing more maddening than not having access to your favorite Netflix shows is running out of VPN bandwidth half way through the series.
VPN providers who offer unlimited bandwidth scored higher, so you never have to worry about running out or incurring overage fees.
Criteria 5: Customer Support
There’s no point to a large network of servers or unlimited bandwidth if there’s no one to respond to your email messages asking, “What’s going on?”
To make sure these VPNs could not only unblock Netflix but also talk you through any challenges along the way, we contacted each provider twice over the course of the test.
Every provider was scored on the average time of their responses.
Criteria 6: Speed
The next aspect is speed. Will the connection speed influence your download and upload times? This is especially important when streaming Netflix.
I calculated the difference between ping time, download speed and upload speed with and without the VPN service for all three providers and judged them on that.
Criteria 7: Price
No one wants to spend more than they have to. So the next criteria I judged these VPNs on was the cost of their subscription.
Generally speaking, the cheaper, the better, assuming there are no other major differences in the service. Therefore, price was used as a tiebreaker for provider that had the same bandwidth, customer service and speed.
Criteria 8: Number of Servers
When trying to access American Netflix, number of servers isn’t necessarily vital criteria; you just need to be able to access a server or two in the U.S. You never know when your needs may change, however.
Plus, the number of servers in a VPN provider’s network can impact the quality of the connection. The services were judged solely on the number of locations, not necessarily the number of titles in the Netflix catalog of that location.
Simple though they are, not all VPNs are created equal. I’ll break down their features, and what you’ll need to stream seamlessly all over the world.
#1 Choice: Buffered VPN – 9/10 – Fastest connection, perfect for streaming Netflix
Since you’re looking for a VPN to stream Netflix overseas, your number one priority should be connection speed.
VPNs are used widely for privacy purposes as well, since in addition to hiding your IP address they also encrypt your connection, but how much privacy do you need to watch a season of Weeds?
That’s why I like Buffered VPN. I actually get a choice in whether I want to focus on privacy or if I just want it damned fast. This VPN allows you to choose your level of encryption, so you can optimize your connection for speed if that’s your priority.
Not only do they have a super easy to use program, but Buffered VPN also has affordable plans and a 30-day, money-back guarantee, so you don’t have to sweat being stuck with a plan you’re going to hate.
This VPN will work on any device, so you can stream on just about anything in your tech-junkie arsenal, and there’s no cap on bandwidth to hold you back either.
Whether you’re trying to lay low or just looking to veg out, Buffered VPN is the way to go for all of your covert Netflix needs.
Get Buffered VPN now.
#2: ExpressVPN – 8/10 – Fast support, connection is hit or miss
I’m a customer service nut, so while ExpressVPN has fast customer service, it’s not really a VPN I can recommend wholeheartedly for streaming around the world.
Despite their sizeable network of servers, it seems ExpressVPN’s customer base has grown over the years, and there’s just less available bandwidth to go around.
Sometimes I get a fast connection with this one, and other times I can’t really get anything to load. It’s kind of a toss up.
However, they do have a sizable network of servers, so depending on your location, this may not be an issue for you.
Their software is a simple download/install setup, and they also offer you the option of adjusting your encryption strength for your needs.
Learn more about ExpressVPN here.
#3: HideMyAss– 6/10 – Slow, unreliable
HideMyAss looks like it’d be the perfect VPN. This one comes with unlimited bandwidth, around the clock live support and is compatible with all major operating systems, just like Buffered.
However, there’s a lot to be desired with the experience of using it. For starters, even though their support is 24/7 (supposedly), I’ve had a lot of issues trying to get their staff to respond.
It seems I’m always catching them on their lunch hours or something. I usually wait at least 6 hours for them to get back to me.
To compare, the average wait time for customer service with Buffered VPN is 20 minutes.
Additionally, even though bandwidth is unlimited, this VPN always seems to suffer from a massively slow connection, no matter where I am. It’s maddening.
Maybe it’s no big deal if you’re just doing some online shopping, but for streaming Netflix, you need all the speed you can get so playback isn’t constantly getting interrupted, and you just can’t count on that with HideMyAss.
I definitely don’t recommend it for streaming Netflix.
A lot of people don’t realize that when they travel, their internet access to certain content is going to change, but geography has a lot to do with what you see when you get online.
If you’re okay with not being able to see your usual Netflix lineup, it’s no big deal, but it sucks to be without access to your American shows when you really want to get back into a juicy series.
With a VPN, you can hide your IP address and watch your favorite American Netflix content from anywhere in the world. Just install the software before you go, connect to their network, and you’ll be able to see all of your favorite American content, even if you’re in another country.
Just make sure you sign up for a VPN that’s fast enough to handle streaming all of that data.
In my experience, your best bet is always going to be to go with Buffered VPN.