While Netflix’s plan to block VPNs may prove to be a futile struggle, its efforts so far have been successful in making it difficult for many VPN subscribers to get around their geoblocking. We reached out to some of the most popular VPN providers to find out how they plan to combat the issue.
Netflix image from Shutterstock
VPN subscribers are being forced to change providers or even give up on accessing overseas Netflix altogether, but VPN providers definitely won’t be giving up without a fight. Responses from VPNs have ranged between claiming they are unaffected, promising they are working on the problem, engineering fixes that change up the way their services work and even telling customers that the service shouldn’t be used for illegally (or semi-legally) circumventing geoblocks.
Seeing this message far too often? We contacted some of Australia’s most popular VPNs and DNS services to see what actions they were taking.
While Getflix seems to be experiencing problems with their service, as with other services that so plainly have ‘flix’ in their names, their Twitter suggests that they’re actively working on a fix:
Our engineers are also working on totally different back-end network to make Netflix regions available for all devices.
— Getflix (@GetflixAU) March 26, 2016
In the meantime they’re suggesting setting static IP routing:
Melbourne-based UFlix has been having more difficulties than others (as I suspect would be true of any VPN with ‘flix’ in the name) but claim to have engineered a fix — for US Netflix only, to begin with. This comes from a recent blog post:
So, everything is running again. After a crazy week without sleep, we finally have our new solution ready and deployed. Currently only USA Netflix is unblocked. Each new region added costs a lot of money, so we will only be adding a handful of regions.
uFlix now works on all devices, but you need to install our little router on your network. Currently, the supported router is the TP-LINK MR3020. If you purchase one of these from eBay or your local computer store you can follow the instructions at https://uflix.com.au/setup/urouter/ and it will allow our service to run on all devices.
We will be adding support to another router later this week for users who want a more powerful WiFi signal and LAN ports on the router. So stay tuned for that. You will be able to see the new router firmware available on the uRouter setup page.
Some users are still using our smartDNS service from before. This does still work for some users, but it will eventually fail as Netflix updates their network. Once that happens, please read our setup guides again (they have been updated) and setup our VPN on your devices.
Currently you can set up our VPN on PC, Mac, iOS and Android without the use of the uRouter. We do however encourage users to have a uRouter at their house as we can perform complex tasks on them without any further work for the user. It will also allow us to implement great new features at a later date which will not be available on non-uRouter devices.
I wasn’t able to get onto UnoTelly directly, but I did receive an auto-reply that was pretty telling about their current situation:
If you are having problems accessing Netflix, we are aware of compatibility issues with UnoTelly and our engineers are currently investigating the situation.
You may still be able to access Netflix by changing the Region Picker to US Test 2, US Test 3, US Test 4 or UK Test 1. Please make sure to Update your IP and close and reopen your browser or reboot your device to eliminate any account related issues.
We will let you know as soon as possible once we have some updates.
NordVPN reached out to us with the following, claiming to be unaffected. As a service that doesn’t operate primarily as a Netflix unblocker, perhaps they have escaped scrutiny so far.
Earlier this month, we reported that NordVPN.com remained unaffected by Netflix crackdown on VPNs. We would like to report that this is still the case — NordVPN still works with Netflix, and we have backup servers prepared in case there are issues.
ExpressVPN, another VPN service that focuses on the security side rather than solely accessing Netflix, has not been widely affected so far:
The actions taken by Netflix have had some effect on ExpressVPN users, though limited.
ExpressVPN believes the measures being taken by Netflix may push millions of honest individuals off the slippery digital slope towards torrenting and piracy. However, an all-out block is incredibly hard to achieve and would require angering countless customers, not to mention millions of dollars in wasted development resources that could go towards creating a better experience for their users.
Many VPN providers seem to believe that this move will make users more likely to unsubscribe from Netflix rather than their VPN service, however, citing the security benefits of using a virtual private network for regular internet use.
It seems that many people are willing to unsubscribe from Netflix rather than quit using VPNs. People are discovering diverse benefits of VPNs, and are often choosing their privacy over streaming. We’ve seen a number of discussions on reddit and other social media channels, saying they would rather quit Netflix than their VPN provider. As NordVPN is security-focused, we are happy that more people are becoming aware of privacy and security issues they face online daily. As Openmedia.org says, privacy shouldn’t end where Netflix begins.
ExpressVPN added that the blocks were unfair to those who used VPNs for security purposes:
we think that a generic VPN block on Netflix’s platform is devastatingly unfair to the average Netflix user. Should a paying Netflix subscriber who wants to stream from public wifi at an airport or coffee shop not be able to take advantage of the privacy and security a VPN can offer?
ExpressVPN’s core mission has been and will continue to be to make it easy for everyone to use the Internet securely and freely.