There’s been an ongoing arms race between Netflix and its users, as the company doubles down on georestrictions and tries to force proxies and VPNs off the site.

But if you’re a Netflix subscriber and you take your laptop out of the country for any reason, your range of movies, documentaries and TV shows can both get slashed, and change sharply. Suppose you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language? Is it too much to ask that you can watch your own shows, at least – especially since you already paid for them?

No, it’s not. And it can still be done.

Netflix Vs VPNs: the story so far

So far, the story of Netflix vs VPNs is about Netflix learning to recognize when someone’s using a proxy. Netflix doesn’t tell how they do this, but it’s not from a database of IP addresses cross-referenced with customer IDs. We know that because some VPNs (whisper it) still work.

It could be any number of methods – IP blacklisting, deep packet inspection – but it is getting both more sensitive, and more effective.

At the same time as Netflix’ user base grows and becomes more international, it’s worked harder to prevent people from accessing content when they’re in the ‘wrong’ location.

VPNs that hide themselves

Traditional methods of identifying VPNs all relied on the fact that VPN server locations are known (except for very small VPNs), and VPN traffic has a distinctive appearance.

VPNs encrypt your traffic. It’s one of the most important things they do to protect your privacy online. Imagine your data as little packages, each one with a return address and a description of the contents on the outside.

A VPN covers all your ‘envelopes’ in brown paper: now, no-one knows what’s inside.

But anyone who looks, knows they’ve been disguised. Simple answer? Block all brown envelopes.

But a new generation of VPNs are wise to this trick, and they’re adding an additional layer of disguise. These VPNs use a technique called ‘obfuscation’ to wrap your data in an additional layer of disguise which conceals the fact that it was ever altered. With fake return addresses, and phony contents descriptions, your packets now look just like everyone else’s. And people who want to watch all 13 seasons of Supernatural from a Canadian location are free to do so.

Which VPNs still work on Netflix?

Any VPN that’s sufficiently advanced to use obfuscation will beat the Netflix ban. At last count, the top performers were:

  • NordVPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • VyprVPN
  • CyberGhost
  • TorGuard

There are plenty of others. But free VPNs and ones with small or infrequently-maintained networks typically don’t make the cut.

A VPN’s performance is always a trade-off between security and speed – VPN+TOR might be as secure as it gets, but good luck finding out how Sam and Dean get out of this one with those download speeds. So it makes sense to check out a list of fast VPNs that don’t interrupt your streaming and still work for Netflix in 2018. Happy watching.