When streaming services took over as the main way people consume films and TV shows, they came with a carryover from the DVD days: geo-restrictions.
So the streaming libraries were made available on a geographical basis. If you were to say, in Germany, you could not access the U.S. library or the British Library.
But, in those early days, all one had to do to circumvent these geo-restrictions was connect to a VPN server located in the same country as the streaming library you wanted access to.
This way, you could access U.S. content from Germany, without issues.
Since then, streaming providers have taken measures to mitigate this “trick”. And Netflix, as you probably already know, took the most extreme step of quite simply banning VPNs from its service.
Netflix implemented the ban in January 2018. And since then, many VPN providers claim to be able to circumvent the ban. And some actually do, while others do not.
PureVPN makes that claim and even provides detailed instructions on their website, on how to access Netflix. And we went ahead and tested it on Netflix U.S. (presumably the most sought after Netflix access) – and it works. And very well too.
Let’s take a closer look at Netflix access over PureVPN.Visit PureVPN (7 day trial)
How Does the Ban Work?
First off, let’s look at how the VPN ban works.
There are a few techniques that can be used for this. And it’s very likely Netflix is using many of them together and perhaps even a few home-grown techniques I’m not aware of.
But basically, it all comes down to traffic analysis over their network. Here are some of the possible techniques used to implement the ban.
Most VPN protocols have a default port over which they create and run the VPN tunnel.
Here are the default ports of the three most secure VPN protocols:
- IKEv2 – ports 500, 4500
- OpenVPN – port 1194
- WireGuard – port 51820
If all your traffic is coming from the default port of a given VPN protocol, it is rather easy to deduce that you’re using a VPN.
This is one of the weaker detection methods. It’s weaker because some VPN protocols, like OpenVPN and WireGuard, can run over arbitrary ports, while a protocol like IKEv2 cannot.
You’ll no doubt have more success unblocking Netflix by using OpenVPN or WireGuard on arbitrary ports.
Fully Encrypted Traffic
It’s a bit ironic that the same encryption protecting your data & online activities can also give away the fact that you’re using a VPN.
When accessing a website over your (non-VPN) ISP connection, your browser typically downloads both encrypted and unencrypted elements.
Your main connection to the website you queried, for example, will be encrypted. But that connection also triggers the download of other elements, such as images, scripts, fonts, etc., unencrypted and usually form a third-party.
Conversely, when using a VPN, everything you download is encrypted because everything must go through the encrypted VPN tunnel.
This atypical “behaviour” can be a dead giveaway for VPN use.
Predictable Traffic Patterns
So we just spoke about encryption and how the fact that your entire connection is encrypted can be used to deduce you’re using a VPN.
But it’s not only the fact that all of your traffic is encrypted that gives it away. It’s also the software operations happening in the background that encrypt your connection in the first place that can give away your VPN use.
These software operations – things like key negotiation and exchange – occur at regular intervals and generate the same number of packets in exactly the same order, every single time they run.
That predictability can be used for VPN detection.
VPN Server IP Lists
This is very likely the main way Netflix’s VPN ban is enforced.
Connecting to a VPN server makes your public IP address appear to be the IP address of the VPN server you connected to. And this is one of the ways a VPN protects your privacy.
However, VPN server IP addresses are public.
Because VPN server IP addresses are public, lists of VPN server IPs can and are compiled. Here’s a link to just one of these lists.
Armed with these lists, it is a trivial matter of filtering out these IPs and blocking them.
So the VPN server that works today may not work tomorrow.
VPN providers and Netflix are in a sort of cat and mouse game where the providers rotate their server IPs while Netflix updates its lists.
If a working VPN server stops working for you, simply switch servers.
So, Does PureVPN Work With Netflix?
The question was answered in the introduction. Yes, PureVPN works with Netflix. And quite well, in fact.
As mentioned above, PureVPN has a dedicated page on its website, explaining how to unblock Netflix. They even showcase a quick video tutorial on how to achieve this.
I tested Netflix U.S. over PureVPN’s network from Canada. And it just worked. No slowdowns, no buffering, just smooth streaming in the location I wanted.
So yes, you can unblock Netflix with PureVPN. And streaming Netflix over PureVPN is easy, fast, and hassle-free.
Don’t forget that a working server will eventually fail. When that happens, you simply need to switch servers.
So PureVPN fares very well on the streaming front. But be warned that on the privacy front, PureVPN has issues.
Whether it be the analytics (tracking) scripts embedded in their apps or because of the 2017 logging controversy, you might want to think twice before purchasing a PureVPN subscription, if you are privacy-minded.
For more information on PureVPN and the issues mentioned above, check out our PureVPN review.
You can also take a look at our Netflix review of other VPN providers that successfully unblock the streaming giant, such as NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Surfshark.Visit PureVPN (7 day trial)
Does PureVPN Work With Netflix?
By Marc Dahan
Last updated: July 30, 2020