A VPN, virtual private network, is a technology that configures a safe, encrypted connection through a series of servers in order to obscure the origin of the internet traffic, providing a significant layer of security to the user. When configured correctly, a user in Japan could appear to be connecting from Mexico. VPNs are a strong security measure, even for the common web user, and have been growing in popularity in recent years. There are a plethora of reasons to use a VPN, both for practical and security purposes, but we’ll be focusing on using them to gain access to region locked content by using their location obscuring capabilities which allow a user to appear to be connecting from a different region.
We recommend Express VPN as the best VPN for watching American Netflix abroad, they have a fast and simple interface to bypass any restrictions.
While a VPN may sound like complex technology, and it is, it doesn’t have to be for the end user. Some VPN services require in depth knowledge and understanding in order to get them set up properly, while some are as simple as opening the software and flipping a switch. The great thing is, the simpler solutions aren’t any less secure than the complex ones. They’re just made to appear simple on a surface level, which is good for us, while providing the same degree of protection and utility as the more complex options.
Free VPNs exist, but they’re not very secure and you’re putting a lot of faith in whoever is running the servers to keep up good privacy practice. Aside from that, the vast majority of free VPNs won’t connect to Netflix or many other region blocked content providers. This is because, being free, their information is easily available and easily locked out. To circumvent this, we’ll be looking at premium service providers. VPNs are particularly low cost software, especially when you consider the security and region unlocking benefits they carry. Below, we’ll go over several different options with varying features and a variety of payment options, so anyone can find a service they’re comfortable with.
Choosing your VPN
While searching for a VPN, it’s important to note that not all VPNs are created equally, or with the same purpose in mind. Some won’t grant access to Netflix, some focus more heavily on security features, and some are designed with advanced users in mind. Its best for our purposes to find a simple solution that gets the job done with barely more than a flick of a switch. Let’s go over some of the available options.
Often touted as the best option to unlock full access to Netflix, ExpressVPN is designed with Netflix in mind as one of it’s key selling points. ExpressVPN is simple software, you simply sign up, pick your plan, download the software and select a server to connect through. All servers should provide unimpeded access to the Netflix library, and they offer 24/7 support with fast response times if any issues arise. Priced at $12.95 per month, or $6.67 on a year subscription, with a 30 day money back guarantee, they come in at a similar cost to the other options, but offer less hassle to connect to Netflix. Much like the other options, they provide an application for Windows, Mac and Linux users. Definitely check this one out.
NordVPN is a popular VPN among security enthusiasts, with thousands of servers to choose from when making your connection, no logging of your connection habits and high speed server access, speed and security are of little concern. NordVPN will grant access to the American Netflix library most of the time, but due to its popularity Netflix often blocks connections from some of it’s VPN servers. NordVPN is usually quite quick to address this and switch the servers around, but it leads to noticeable downtime if your only goal with a VPN is to access Netflix.
NordVPN comes in at a lower price, $11.95 per month, or $5.75 per month over a year commitment. They offer a special 2 year plan at only $3.29 per month, which is a steal for this type of service. Much like the other VPNs we’ll cover, they too offer 24/7 support, with live chat being an option. They offer applications for each of the major operating systems. If you’re in the market for a VPN that can really boost your security with the added benefit of occasional access to the full Netflix library, this is definitely one to consider.
Buffered VPN is a UK based VPN that provides a standard set of features. All traffic is encrypted, and you can swap servers as needed to access content with ease. It claims to allow access to the full Netflix library with uncapped bandwidth. At $12.99 per month, discounted to $8.25 per month with the yearly package, you get access to an uncapped service with 24/7 support, with applications available to Windows, Mac and Linux.
With the crude name aside, HideMyAss is a well known, secure high speed VPN. It mentions the high speed nature of the software, but its more than just a claim. HideMyAss is noticeably faster than most other services, which is great for our purposes. This VPN can also be used on multiple devices simultaneously, which is great if you have multiple viewers in the house.
HidemyAss VPN is another designed specifically with media in mind, but it doesn’t trade off great security features in doing so. It has strong encryption, keeps no usage logs and very few connection logs. They provide multiple servers to choose from, and a money back guarantee. At $15.99 per month, or $9.19 on a year subscription, you’re paying a bit more than the others, but what you get in return is a very simple, appealing VPN that anyone can have up and running in mere moments.
PrivateVPN is based on Sweden, with servers in over 50 countries. PrivateVPN makes use of high speed server connections, and configures their software with services like Netflix in mind. They too offer 24/7 support, and have a zero log policy similar to NordVPN, which expands its usability into different areas of the web.
While it doesn’t have the most servers with just over 80 worldwide, it claims an up time of 98.8%, and offers a money back guarantee. The software is simple to configure, which is a plus, and they have an application for each major operating system, as well as some mobile devices. At $8.21 per month, it is just barely the cheapest package we’ve covered. A yearly subscription comes in at $4.15 per month. All in all, it’s not a bad choice. But at present, Express VPN, NordVPN, Buffered VPN, HideMyAss are our preferred and recommended VPN service providers.
There are many other VPNs to choose from, it would be impossible to list them all, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all VPNs support accessing Netflix from different regions. Popular services like PIA VPN don’t actively support this function, for example. They don’t actively attempt to stop it, but they won’t switch servers around in order to guarantee access is available to users either, it’s not the primary concern or function of their service. So if you opt to do your own research, keep that in mind while reading through the features provided and their individual goals for their VPN services.
The sweet rewards
After you’ve chosen a VPN service that you’re comfortable with, setting it up is almost always as simple as downloading the software, and following the instructions included either in the software itself or on a provided web-page. After a short setup, you should be able to select a server to connect to. In order to access the American Netflix library, you’ll need to select an American server. Servers could be located in a variety of states, it’s usually best to select the state nearest to your location to get slightly faster speeds. Upon doing so, you can use the web as normal while the software runs in the background. Open up a web page, head over to Netflix and sign in. Your efforts will be rewarded when you’re treated to a vastly superior selection of media to enjoy. When you’re done using the VPN, just turn it off or close the software. Depending on your internet speed and the speed of the server you’re connecting to, the internet could appear to be running a bit slower, so it’s often best to turn it off when it’s not of use if that’s a concern of yours.
Reading this, you may ask yourself if it’s legal to use a VPN to connect to different Netflix regions. Using a VPN is actually relatively common practice on the internet, especially for security minded individuals. Using a VPN to access a different regions content is a sort of gray area. Netflix itself has never done anything besides block some VPNs, and they’ve only just recently begun to do that. Individually, however, Paying customers have legal access to Netflix, and VPNs are completely legal software in their own right. It is worth being aware, however, that the Netflix terms of service allows them to cut off a Netflix subscription if they believe it is being used in an unintended way. While this hasn’t been reported to be an issue with VPN users, it can’t hurt to be informed.
It’s important to remember to check the legality of using a VPN in whichever region you’re connecting from. While the vast majority of regions are allowed to access VPNs, there remain some that are against them, and a few that have outlawed them entirely. Take care to be conscious of your region’s stance on them.
Why doesn’t Netflix just provide equal access?
It’s not that Netflix wants to block off access to certain programs, it’s that regional providers and licensing agreements make it difficult to give everyone in the world similar access to content. Regardless of where you are, you’re paying the same price for what is ultimately the same service. For example, if you connected in the US with your Australian Netflix account, you would have access to the entire US library natively with no additional efforts being made.
This is a contributing factor in why Netflix is pushing more Netflix Original series, so they can get around the regional issues and provide similar content to all subscribers. Some publishers may not want other regions to have access to their content on Netflix, and make it difficult for Netflix to acquire the rights to publish outside of the US as a result. Occasionally, another content provider already has the rights to the content in another region, and Netflix is simply out of luck because of that. All of these contributing factors create an environment where it is very difficult for Netflix to solve the problem, which in turn hurts their service, the non US regions, and the subscribers.
Netflix has openly addressed the regional differences issue however, and has continually expressed an interest in eliminating the problem. Their goal is to provide unimpeded access to all users equally in the long term, to the benefit of all parties involved. They’ve begun the process of making this possible, and are slowly eliminating the difference in library size, but as it stands the difference is still overwhelmingly large. Perhaps a few years down the line, the issue will be solved, but for now, a VPN is the safest, easiest option to fully enjoy your Netflix subscription.
Our Top 10 Favorite Netflix Shows:
Most of us have Netflix, but what many people don’t realize is that each region has a separate Netflix Library. After investigating the differences, users often find themselves wishing they could access another region’s Netflix selection. There is a staggering difference in the amount of content available in the American library of Netflix, compared to other regions. While exact numbers are difficult to find with Netflix adding and removing both Movies and TV shows daily, the US library is roughly double the size of the Canadian one. Here’s a quick look at what you’re missing out on.
- Stranger Things
Undoubtedly one of the hottest shows of 2017, Stranger Things, or rather the children of Stranger Things took the world by storm. The casting, setting and music are spot on in this sci-fi adventure set in the 80’s.
This new series about the nature of criminal psychology has amassed a big following due to its gripping storytelling. The show, set in 1977, follows two FBI agents who interview imprisoned serial killers, giving viewers an inside look at the minds of incarcerated psychopaths and the atrocious crimes they have committed.
- Mad Men
Mad Men ended in 2015 in its 7th season but it remains one of the most popular shows on Netflix. The drama follows New York’s most prestigious ad agencies during the 1960’s, a time when the American idles are being challenged. The show follows Don Draper through his personal and career struggles.
- House of Cards
Aside from recent off screen drama involving star Kevin Spacey, House of Cards has led the way for Netflix Originals, winning a host of awards including Emmys and Golden Globes. The series follows Francis Underwood, a ruthless politician who aspires to be the US president.
- Orange is the New Black
Another extremely popular Netflix original, this confronting drama about a women’s prison has exceeded viewer’s expectations for 5 atraight seasons, with a few more to come.
- The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story
Follows, and dramatizes, one of the most infamous trials in American history involving O.J. Simpson. With stars such as John Travolta and Cuba Gooding Jr., it’s an entertaining ride.
- Black Mirror
This series is made up of standalone drama episodes with themes revolving around science-fiction, horror, and asks dystopic, futuristic questions about “what could be”. It’s dark, fast paced and often confronting.
- The OA
The OA is a mystery science-fiction drama series which is as chilling as it is exciting. Viewers are left largely to their own devices to understand what is happening throughout the series.
- 13 Reasons Why
This controversial series took the world by storm as it explores the suicide of a young teenage girl. Due for a second season, you’d be wise to find out the 13 reasons why Hannah Baker took her own life.
A show about the dark secrets of a contemporary American family. Bloodline is a thriller full of lies, paranoia and crime.
Next Steps …
With all of this in mind, how do we access the American library abroad? Well, we’ll need the assistance of a VPN. We have presented our recommended list of VPN providers whom we’ve personally tested. So what are you waiting for? Time to get out there, sign up with one of our recommended vpn service providers, and unlock all that the American Netflix library has to offer. Enjoy !