Lifting the geographic restrictions on online streaming platforms is one of the most popular reasons why so many people sign up for VPNs or Virtual Private Networks. The battle between streaming platforms and VPN providers is never-ending, and only a few VPNs are capable of bypassing streaming geo-blocks. Only the best VPN providers on the market are resourced enough to bypass their geographic restrictions. In this article, I’ve collected the best VPNs for streaming content on sites like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO, BBC, and many others.
VPNs are security tools that can give your device the appearance of being located in another part of the world by giving you a new IP address. A VPN sets up an encrypted tunnel and routes your internet traffic through an intermediary server located in another part of the world, so your true location will be masked with the location of the chosen VPN server.
I will go into further detail on each provider, but here’s a quick summary of the best VPNs for streaming:
- NordVPN: This is my top VPN for HD streaming. It offers fast servers around the globe that deliver high-quality connections. Works with all major streaming services from anywhere in the world. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Surfshark: This is the best budget option for streaming that doesn’t compromise on performance or security. Scores high on security, speed, and value. Unblocks most streaming services and offers unlimited simultaneous connections.
- ExpressVPN: A favorite among streaming enthusiasts. Unblocks geo-restricted content from around the world and streams at remarkable speeds.
- CyberGhost: Operates a vast network of over 7,000 servers in 91 countries around the world. Affordable, secure, and easy to use for streaming.
- VyprVPN: The company owns every server on its network, leading to consistent streaming speeds and top-notch security. Works in China.
- PrivateVPN: A newcomer VPN offering incredibly fast servers for streaming and great unblocking power.
- IPVanish: A high level of security and fast streaming speeds. Provides an unlimited amount of simultaneous connections.
Best VPNs for streaming
Not all VPNs are capable of overcoming geo-restrictions on the biggest streaming platforms. I cover my VPN testing criteria in more detail below, but for now, he’s an overview of what I look for in the best VPNs for streaming:
- Unblocks major streaming platforms while abroad
- Wide network of fast servers
- Powerful security standards
- Fast streaming speeds for HD video
- Multiple simultaneous connections
NordVPN’s impressive speeds, strong security, and unblocking strength have placed it at the top of my list for streaming VPNs. This VPN is highly recommended for Netflix viewers who want to view movies and shows only available in the Netflix libraries of other countries. My tests revealed that NordVPN works with Netflix US, UK, Australia, Brazil, Italy, India, Netherlands, Spain, and Germany, among others.
With more than 5,200 servers in 60+ countries around the world, NordVPN runs one of the largest server networks on the VPN market and offers a wide range of geographic variety for unblocking geo-locked content. It meets high security standards by using 256-bit encryption, the NordLynx protocol, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection.
NordVPN is based in Panama where there are no data retention laws that could otherwise expose your personal data to the authorities. But even if NordVPN’s servers were seized, the company keeps no logs on its users’ personal data anyway, so there are no records of your online activity that could be traced back to you.
Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, Fire TV, and macOS. A single subscription will allow you to connect up to six devices simultaneously. Users who are especially privacy-conscious can sign up anonymously by paying in cryptocurrency.
- Lifts geo-restrictions on major streaming sites
- Fast and stable connection speeds
- Strong encryption protocol and security features
- Keeps no logs
- Six simultaneous connections
- Accepts payments in Bitcoin
- The desktop app is occasionally slow to connect
BEST VPN FOR STREAMING:NordVPN is my favorite VPN for streaming. You can rely on its vast server network to deliver incredible streaming speeds. Protects your privacy with top-notch security features. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Surfshark’s unlimited allowance of simultaneous connections makes it a worthwhile choice for users who want to share it with friends and family. This is a budget-friendly VPN with a network of over 3,200 servers in 65+ countries, which gives it sufficient unblocking power for stubborn platforms like Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. Surfshark’s servers stream at fast speeds with little to no buffering.
Surfshark uses 256-bit AES encryption and offers protection against DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks. An included kill switch prevents you from browsing the web without protection in the event you suddenly lose connection to the VPN, and it automatically scans for malware, blocks ads, and uses its NoBorders functionality to bypass online censorship. Surfshark won’t store records of your personally identifiable information and accepts payments in crypto for anonymous registration.
Surfshark apps are available for iOS, macOS, Android, Windows, Fire TV, and Linux, and it works with some routers.
- Fast, consistent streaming speeds
- 256-bit AES encryption and leak protection
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Unblocks most streaming services
- A couple of its servers can be slow
FAST AND AFFORDABLE:Surfshark doesn't compromise on security, speed, or features. Its unlimited simultaneous connections makes it great for families. Comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
ExpressVPN is a fast option for HD streaming and downloading that doesn’t compromise security. It works with major video streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. It runs a geographically diverse server network of 3,000+ servers from 94 countries.
Its security offerings include 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection from DNS leaks. ExpressVPN only stores non-identifying metadata on its users, and its location in the British Virgin Islands means that the company isn’t subject to any data retention laws.
ExpressVPN apps can be downloaded for Windows, macOS, iOS, Fire TV, and Android. Five simultaneous connections are allowed under a single account.
- Excellent server speeds for HD streaming and downloading
- Thousands of servers worldwide
- Unbreakable security features
- Easy to use
- 24/7 customer support
- Not the cheapest option on this list
- Fewer options for advanced users
STREAM FROM ABROAD:ExpressVPN is an ideal choice for streaming. Lifts geo-blocks on all major streaming sites while keeping you safe online. Comes with a 30-day money back guarantee.
CyberGhost has made many recent improvements in its service and performance including its ability to unblock streaming services. The VPN features a convenient interface with an “Unblock Streaming” mode that will direct users to servers dedicated to unblocking specific streaming websites, which makes it an easy VPN for beginners to use.
CyberGhost’s security package includes 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, DNS leak protection, an ad blocker, malware protection, and anti-tracking software. The company is headquartered in Romania where there are no data retention laws. CyberGhost does not keep logs on IP addresses or personally identifiable user data.
Apps are available for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Fire TV, certain wi-fi routers, and Linux. Seven devices can be protected at once under a single subscription.
- Largest server network on this list: 7,000 servers in 91 countries
- Servers optimized for security and HD streaming
- Beginner-friendly apps
- 256-bit encryption, leak protection, ad/malware blocker
- Experienced users may struggle with its lack of customizable features
- Less reliable in places like China and the UAE
GREAT VALUE:CyberGhost is easy for beginners. Offers thousands of fast and secure servers worldwide. Comes with a 45-day money-back guarantee.
VyprVPN’s streaming servers are very effective for accessing all major streaming platforms, including Netflix and Hulu. VyprVPN runs a network of more than 700 servers in 70+ locations worldwide, and it even works in China. It is one of the few VPNs that owns its entire server network instead of renting it, giving the company total control of the traffic flowing through its servers.
This VPN uses 256-bit AES encryption on the OpenVPN protocol, 2,048-bit RSA keys with perfect forward secrecy, SHA256 authentication, and includes an internet kill switch. Apps can be downloaded for Android, iOS, Windows, Fire TV, and macOS devices.
- The self-owned network gets fast and consistent speeds
- Strong encryption protocol and security standards
- Works in China
- One of the more expensive VPNs
- Limited server selection
WORKS IN CHINA:VyprVPN gets great speeds and uptime. Good choice for streaming but costs more than many of its competitors. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
PrivateVPN has only around 200 servers to choose from, but the coverage across 93 countries makes it a great VPN for accessing geo-restricted content from many different countries around the world. It works with Netflix libraries of many countries including the US, the UK, Italy, France, and Brazil. Hulu is successfully unblocked as well but works with fewer servers. Customer support is available via live chat to help match your desired streaming platform with the right VPN server. It is only available during Swedish business hours, but you can submit a ticket at any time.
PrivateVPN uses 256-bit encryption, an internet kill switch, WebRTC, DNS, and full IPv6 protection. This provider offers an allowance of six simultaneous connections. It stores no user logs or IP addresses and accepts payments in Bitcoin for anonymous registration.
Apps are available for Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.
- Server locations in 93 countries
- Consistent and fast speeds
- Unblocks most of the top streaming sites
- A small selection of servers
- Customer support is only available during Swedish business hours
FAST AND RELIABLE:PrivateVPN meets high standards for streaming in HD. Unblocks most services while protecting your online privacy. Doesn’t have many servers. Features a 30-day money back guarantee.
IPVanish has not been able to reliably unblock Hulu and Netflix in my recent tests, but I was able to access HBO Now and BBC iPlayer. IPVanish’s strong privacy features and fast speeds make it a great option for torrenting and it works well with Kodi devices. It offers a selection of over 1,600 servers in 75 locations around the world.
IPVanish users are protected with 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, DNS leak protection, and an internet kill switch. An unlimited number of simultaneous connections are allowed under a single account and features apps for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Fire TV. Customer support is available through 24/7 live chat.
- Great for downloading and Kodi usage
- Fast server speeds
- Plenty of strong security features
- Unlimited simultaneous connections
- Struggles with unblocking Hulu and Netflix
- Smaller server network than many of its competitors
- Doesn’t work in China
GREAT VALUE:IPVanish lets you protect every device. Meets the needs of security-focused users but isn’t the greatest VPN for streaming. Try it first with its 30-day money back guarantee.
My methodology: How I find the best streaming VPNs
Overcoming geo-blocks is just the beginning, and there’s a lot more that goes into my testing process. Here are some of the things I look for in VPNs for streaming:
- Servers – Streaming libraries in other countries require a local server, e.g. to access Netflix France you will need a VPN server in France. I check that there are plenty of locations covered and that the servers are capable of handling streaming.
- Speeds – Slow speeds mean lag, buffering, and error messages. To avoid this, I only recommend VPNs that have passed my speed tests and are proven to maintain a reliable connection while streaming content.
- Security – I check that a VPN has the strongest levels of security and privacy features, including 256-bit encryption, a network kill switch, and a strict no-logs policy.
- Devices – Streaming platforms work on most devices and so your VPN should too. I look at device compatibility, setup, and ease of use. I also investigate how many simultaneous connections are supported on one account.
- Value – It’s not just about finding the cheapest VPN, it’s about what you actually get for your money. I investigate free trial periods, money-back guarantees, and the quality of customer service alongside the subscription cost.
Want to know more about how I test VPNs and decide which is best? Check out my VPN testing methodology.
VPN for Streaming FAQ
How can I reduce buffering when streaming video?
First of all, your base internet speed needs to be fast enough to stream the resolution you want to watch. At least 10 Mbps are required to stream 1080p HD, and at least 25 Mbps is necessary for 4K UHD. Anything less will cause buffering unless you manually adjust the resolution to a lower setting such as 720p. VPNs can slightly slow down your internet speeds because of the encryption, but all of the VPNs recommended in this list provide enough bandwidth for HD streaming as long as your base internet connection is fast enough. If you’re still encountering problems with buffering, I suggest checking to see how much bandwidth other programs on your device are consuming and checking if any other devices on your network are causing the interference.
What’s the difference between watching Netflix or Hulu in a browser or on an app?
Streaming apps usually contain mechanisms that override a VPN’s DNS settings and detect if there’s a mismatch between the user’s IP address location and the nearest DNS server’s location. A mismatch indicates that a proxy is being used and results in the video being blocked. In a browser, however, the Netflix and Hulu websites do not have the ability to change the VPN’s DNS settings. Netflix and Hulu’s DNS override mechanism on their apps is a powerful technology that only a handful of VPNs have been able to bypass and remain undetectable.
Which is better for online streaming: VPN or SmartDNS?
Streaming services have caught up with SmartDNS technology and have blocked most providers. VPN providers build their reputation on unblocking geo-restricted content and invest much of their resources to this effect. Good VPN services usually operate their own DNS servers in order to provide reliable location spoofing. VPNs are also more secure than SmartDNS proxies because they encrypt your internet connection and offer thousands of different servers to choose from.
Why use a VPN to stream on Kodi?
Kodi addons can get geo-blocked just like websites and apps. You will get the most out of your Kodi system by using a VPN to avoid these annoying limitations. Even if the addon you’re using isn’t restricted by region, I still recommend using a VPN because some Kodi addons are not official and could be abused later on by malicious hackers. A VPN will protect your internet traffic from being intercepted during a man-in-the-middle attack, for instance.
Which country should I connect to for the best privacy and security?
Choosing a VPN server will depend primarily on the location that has the content you want to see. After narrowing down your selection of viable servers, I recommend choosing a server located in a country with legal privacy protections and a lack of data retention laws. The VPN should also keep no logs. VPN companies usually rent servers from data centers that are subject to the law of the country they’re in.
What's the best VPN for game console streaming?
Most video game consoles don’t support VPN apps or have the option to configure VPNs manually. If you want to use a VPN for game consoles, you will have to set up a VPN on a wifi router or resort to a smart DNS proxy. Many of the VPN providers on this list offer compatibility with some wifi routers.
- Best VPNs for streaming
- 1. NordVPN
- 2. Surfshark
- 3. ExpressVPN
- 4. CyberGhost
- 5. VyprVPN
- 6. PrivateVPN
- 7. IPVanish
- My methodology: How I find the best streaming VPNs
- VPN for Streaming FAQ
- How can I reduce buffering when streaming video?
- What’s the difference between watching Netflix or Hulu in a browser or on an app?
- Which is better for online streaming: VPN or SmartDNS?
- Why use a VPN to stream on Kodi?
- Which country should I connect to for the best privacy and security?
- What's the best VPN for game console streaming?