At the end of 2016, Netflix started cracking down on the Canadians that were attempting to logon to the American version of Netflix via VPN. Fortunately, the streaming video service’s clumsy “whack-a-mole” method of blocking VPN servers is pretty easy to sidestep.
The key to getting into American Netflix is finding a VPN provider that adapts quickly to changes and is geo-hopper friendly. We feel that StrongVPN is the best all-around choice for Canadians looking to gain access to the full Netflix catalog.
How to Get American Netflix in Canada – A Video Guide
Before we get down to business, you may want to consider following along with the accompanying video guide to this article below. Everything you need to know from this article, compressed into under five minutes!
With that out of the way, let’s get started!
How does Netflix manage to block VPN users?
Every VPN server– and every computer on the Internet– has a unique address called an IP address. IP addresses on the web are just like the physical mailing addresses that postal workers when they deliver mail. Each time a computer sends and receives information on the web, they use IP addresses to sort out who is sending what to whom.
If you log in to an American VPN server, you’re automatically assigned an American IP address. So, from the perspective of Netflix’s VPN servers it seems as though you’re located inside the United States.
The problem for Canadian VPN users now is that Netflix has decided to block the IP addresses of many of the VPN servers that they and other international users have been using to unlock Netflix’s American catalog. As a result of Netflix’s effort to preserve their lucrative license agreements, many people living outside the continental United States can no longer access the Netflix content that they’ve gotten used to enjoying.
The problem for Netflix is that IP address blocks are notoriously ineffective. Internet IP addresses are by no means set in stone. In fact, they’re pretty easy to change. If a VPN company is willing to occasionally switch up their servers’ IP addresses, there’s no way that any type of IP address based block will ever remain in place for long.
How to unblock American Netflix content
Some VPN companies are more responsive to geoblocks than others. For example, the VPN service we usually recommend– IPVanish— has yet to develop a workaround that will allow their international users to get to American Netflix content.
Fortunately, there are many other VPN services out there that are willing to occasionally change their IP addresses so that their international user base can access Netflix.
We’ve identified four VPN service providers that change their servers’ IP addresses on a regular basis:
Which VPN service is the overall best for accessing American Netflix?
There are tons of fly-by-night VPN services that cater to disgruntled Canadian Netflix users. So in order to come up with a list of VPN services to recommend to our readers, we asked the following questions about each VPN service we tried out:
- Does it have a large number of US-based servers? VPN services with only one or two American servers are much easier to block. That’s why if we found a VPN service that didn’t have many United States based VPN servers, we removed it from our list.
- Are its ports configurable or static? If a VPN service only uses port 1194, it’s easier to block. 1194 is a common VPN port used by many VPN services. VPNs that use multiple ports to transfer data are much more difficult for Netflix to track and block.
- Does it use obfuscation methods to help its users to avoid detection? The best VPN services use port forwarding and other advanced data transfer methods to allow their users to go unnoticed on the web.
After evaluating several VPN services, we found that StrongVPN was the best VPN service for accessing American Netflix.
6 reasons why we think Canadians should use StrongVPN to access American Netflix
- You get a risk free trial. StrongVPN’s trial period allows you to verify for yourself that you can get to American Netflix.
- It rarely goes down. When Netflix attempts to block StrongVPN’s servers, StrongVPN changes its IP addresses around so that its subscribers can still get to the content they want.
- It has a lot of US servers. StrongVPN has 14 different US servers, in all.
- It’s next to impossible to detect. StrongVPN uses an advanced technique called “Scramble” to prevent Netflix from detecting your VPN connection.
- It’s almost impossible to crack. When it comes to encryption, StrongVPN is a monster. Its 2048-bit algorithm is pretty much impenetrable. (To put that number in perspective, many competing VPN services only offer 256 or 128-bit encryption.)
- You get a free DNS service when you subscribe. All StrongVPN get to use StrongDNS for free.
Like most VPN services, StrongVPN does slow down your internet connection a bit. All that heavy duty encryption probably adds some overhead that causes videos to buffer a few seconds longer than they normally would if you weren’t using a VPN.
Additional StrongVPN benefits
How to Watch American Netflix in Canada With StrongVPN
Step #1: Sign up for a StrongVPN account.
The first thing you have to do to get StrongVPN client is sign up for an account. You can pick from several different membership two packages– and you get a deep discount if you sign up for 12 years of service.
Step #2: Get your password
After sign up, StrongVPN will automatically send you your login credentials via email. Your first password will be randomly generated, but you can always change it to something that’s easier to remember later on.
Step #3: Download and install StrongVPN
After you’ll log in, you’ll reach a screen that looks like the one depicted below. Click the section labeled “StrongVPN Client” to get to the software download page.
After you pick the operating system that corresponds to the one you’re using, you’ll be able to download the StrongVPN installer to your desktop. From there, just follow the wizard’s instructions to complete the installation process.
Step #4: Open the StrongVPN client and login
The first time you open StrongVPN, you’ll need to type in (or copy-and-paste in) your login information and password. Of course, if you opt to allow StrongVPN to save your credentials, the next time you open StrongVPN you’ll be able to login with a single mouse click.
Step #5: Select any United States server from the server list
Our free CheckFlix service automatically scans two of StrongVPN’s American servers to see if they currently allow access to the American Netflix content catalogue:
- The Los Angeles based StrongVPN server named str-lax302
- The New York City based StrongVPN server named str-jfk303
Because str-lax302 and str-jfk303 are StrongVPN’s best USA servers, it’s a good idea to start with those first when connecting for the first time. But if you notice any lagging, feel free to try switching to one of the other American VPN servers.
If CheckFlix indicates that str-lax302 and str-jfk303 are green, chances are high that any of StrongVPN’s USA servers will allow you to get to American Netflix.
Once you’ve connected, you should see an American flag appear in the left corner of the screen. You should also see the VPN STATUS: CONNECTED message to the right of the flag.
Step #6: Activate “Scramble”
Navigate to the “Advanced” and click the menu entitled “Scramble.” Then, choose the “Obfuscate” option from the list to prevent Netflix’s servers from detecting that you’re using a VPN.
Why is Netflix trying to block Canadian VPN users?
Netflix’s management has to be smart enough to know that attempting to play “whack-a-mole” with VPN service providers isn’t going to accomplish their goals. So why do they insist on playing this silly little game with their paying customers?
One possible answer could be that they didn’t really have any choice in the matter.
David Glance– the University of Western Australia’s Director of the Centre for Software Practice– has suggested that content providers probably forced Netflix to act.
Dr. Glance believes that the Netflix crackdown may actually hurt content providers in the long run, especially if it encourages frustrated Netflix users to use illegal sites like PirateBay to get their entertainment fix.
“The irony of this move, however, is that people will simply resort back to torrenting TV shows and movies, but of course now with the increased safety of using the very VPN service that Netflix prompted them to use in the first place.” Dr. David Glance, University of Western Australia
He also added that similar efforts to block content and maintain license deals may eventually end up making the internet a safer and more anonymous, if it forces more internet users to sign up for VPN services.
Are Netflix’s attempts to block certain VPN users “just for show,” or the beginning of a serious long term strategy?
One quote from Netflix’s CEO seems to indicate that the company won’t attempt to implement any new defenses against geo-hoppers anytime soon.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had this to say about VPN geo-hoppers in April of 2016.
“It’s a very small but quite vocal minority. It’s really inconsequential to us.”