Best VPN for Streaming

In recent years, VPNs have become vital for anyone wanting to access their favorite streaming content. If you want to catch up on your favorite television show while on holiday abroad, access sports coverage that is not broadcast in your region, or you just want the security and peace of mind that they offer, there are numerous reasons to install a streaming VPN.

A VPN (Virtual Private Network) will enable you to get more out of streaming by allowing you to bypass geo-blocks and access restricted content. Installing a VPN on your device will mean you can access U.S. Netflix libraries, as well as U.K television shows on BBC iPlayer. It will give you access to a host of television shows and movies that would not typically be available in your region.

Not every VPN is the same, and some are better suited to streaming than others. So, we have done the hard work for you and compiled a list of the best VPNs for streaming your favorite media content.

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Do I Need a VPN for Streaming?

Installing a VPN will ensure easy access to all of your favorite television shows and movies. A lot of content is blocked by restrictions and geo-blocks, limiting the amount of your choice when it comes to streaming. Depending on your region, content on streaming libraries such as Netflix is likely to change frequently, meaning that you may lose access to your favorite shows.

If you enjoy streaming, you likely have subscriptions to a range of services such as Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, or Disney+. However, you will be limited to the television shows and movies available in your country’s library. A VPN can serve to mask your real IP address with the same location as the content you are trying to access, thus giving you access to a host of content from a range of libraries around the world.

Whether or not you need to use a VPN will depend on what content you like to stream and how often you want to stream it. If you are an avid streamer with an unstoppable desire to consume movies and box-sets, a streaming VPN is likely an essential addition to your device that will enable you to watch content that would otherwise be unavailable in your region.

Also, if you are a sports fan but struggle to access coverage in your country, using a VPN will allow you to stream sports events worldwide. However, if you are content with your domestic streaming services and TV shows, using a VPN may not be necessary.

How to Choose the Best VPN for Streaming

When choosing the best VPN for streaming, it is necessary to consider the streaming services you want to access. Netflix is the most popular streaming service globally; however, it is one of the most difficult for some VPNs to unblock. If you prefer to watch shows on BBC iPlayer or Prime Video, there are VPNs better suited to accessing those too.

Fast speeds are vital for a streaming VPN, and some VPNs are better than others when it comes to connection speeds. So, look for a VPN that offers the highest speeds so that you can enjoy your shows and movies in high definition (HD) and buffer-free. A large server network will also increase speeds, as no single server is likely to become overwhelmed or congested. A variety of server locations will also enable you to access streaming content from libraries all over the world.

While it may not be your main priority when choosing a VPN for streaming purposes, your security and privacy are still important. Choose a provider that will protect against your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or hackers monitoring your activity.

You will likely also want to choose a VPN provider that offers simultaneous connections for multiple devices so that you can stream your favorite content on your Smart TV, phone, tablet, and laptop. It is helpful to look for a service that offers excellent customer service and 24/7 live customer support if you run into issues when streaming or setting up the VPN. Also, look for a subscription that comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are not happy with the service.

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What is the Best VPN for Streaming?

If you want to continue to watch your favorite television drama while abroad, or you want to access sports coverage that is not available in your region, a good VPN is a necessary addition to your device. Here are our favorite VPNs for streaming.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN offers an excellent VPN service complete with technology specifically designed to access streaming sites.

NordVPN is a great option if you are looking for a VPN for streaming purposes. The provider offers SmartPlay technology, which is specially designed to overcome geo-restrictions on streaming sites. This feature is automatically activated upon installation across all of NordVPN’s apps, meaning that the user’s requests are always rerouted through a suitable remote server.

The SmartPlay technology can be connected to your Smart TV or your router to ensure easy access to a host of streaming sites, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Prime Video, Hulu, and HBO. Even though that NordVPN’s SmartPlay feature does not offer the same security as a VPN, it does ensure fast connection speeds, high-definition (HD) quality, and access to geo-blocked streaming sites.

Many streaming services, including Netflix, possess strong firewalls and VPN blocking technology, which are difficult to bypass. However, NordVPN offers a range of comprehensive guides if you run into difficulties when trying to access your desired show. There is also 24/7 live customer support if you cannot resolve such issues alone.

NordVPN’s client is compatible with all major operating systems, and it provides dedicated apps for macOS, iOS, Windows, Android, and Linux. And you can connect up to 6 devices simultaneously, which means you can enjoy your favorite content on your phone, tablet, computer, SmartTV, and laptop.

Speed tests reveal impressive and reliable connection speeds, meaning that you do not have to worry about lag or buffering when connected to one of NordVPN’s servers. You may experience a slight increase in latency with long-distance connections; however, this is expected. NordVPN offers access to an extensive range of over 5,000 servers across 80 locations, which means that you have endless choices when choosing a VPN server that is close to your desired streaming library.

Also, if you are concerned about your privacy online, NordVPN is based in Panama, a country that enjoys relaxed data privacy laws, which is advantageous to users. NordVPN also utilizes 256-bit encryption, advanced protocols, a reliable kill-switch, an excellent no-logs policy, and a Double VPN feature that encrypts your data twice, rather than just once.

NordVPN is also relatively affordable, considering the first-rate service on offer. If you are ready to commit to a long-term plan of over a year, you will receive a discount on the subscription price of up to 70%. And if you are not happy with the product, you can receive a refund within the first month thanks to its 30-day money-back guarantee.

2. ExpressVPN

Express VPN is one of the best streaming VPNs on the market.

ExpressVPN offers a first-rate product that makes streaming content from around the world simple and easy. This VPN service can unlock almost all of the most popular streaming sites and libraries all around the world. Whether you want to watch Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, or HBO, ExpressVPN will enable you to do so with ease. There is one downside to ExpressVPN. It is typically unable to unblock BBC iPlayer unless you utilize the provider’s Media Streamer. This makes it unsuitable if you do want a VPN to access UK content on the iPlayer.

Connecting to ExpressVPN’s MediaStreamer app will enable you to overcome geo-blocked content thanks to its smart DNS technology. However, this feature will not offer the same protection and encryption as an actual VPN. To use the Media Streamer, it is necessary to connect the VPN to your router and then set your devices to utilize the DNS servers. This is a great option if you do not want to encrypt your internet data, but you want to unblock streaming services.

If you want to watch a foreign movie, catch up on your favorite television show while abroad, or access overseas sports coverage, ExpressVPN will enable you to so in high definition (HD) and without buffering. Even if you do run into any difficulties, the service provides 24/7 customer support to get you streaming in no time.

ExpressVPN offers access to an impressive range of over 3,000 servers across 94 countries, ensuring fast and reliable connection speeds, no matter what server location you choose to connect to.

When it comes to security and privacy, ExpressVPN is one of the best VPNs. It utilizes a host of advanced protocols, including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec, IKEv2, and PPTP. If you are looking for the fastest speeds and security isn’t your top priority, consider PPTP or IKEv2 protocols. However, OpenVPN will offer the highest levels of security. ExpressVPN also provides complete DNS leak protection, ensuring that your real IP address is always secure and protected.

NordVPN offers a range of sophisticated clients, enabling you to stream on your Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, or Linux devices. ExpressVPN’s user-friendly interface enables an automatic connection to the optimal available server to ensure the fastest speeds. This feature is handy if you are traveling abroad and are unfamiliar with the servers that are located in the region. The VPN offers protection for up to 5 devices simultaneously, which is sufficient for most users, despite that it is less than many other VPNs offer.

ExpressVPN is also one of the more expensive options when it comes to choosing a VPN service. However, it provides a 30-day money-back guarantee with all of its plans, allowing you to make sure that the VPN unblocks all of the streaming services you require before you commit to a paid subscription plan. ExpressVPN’s 1 Year subscription plan is the most cost-effective compared to its other two plans.

3. Surfshark VPN

Surfshark is one of the best VPNs for streaming, and it comes at a fraction of the price of some of its competitors.

Surfshark unblocks Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO, and YouTube with ease, making it one of the best VPNs for streaming, especially considering its impressively low price. This is an extremely affordable streaming VPN with a monthly subscription price of as low as $2.50. In terms of price, no other VPN services come close to Surfshark.

Not only does this streaming VPN come at a great price, but it offers unlimited simultaneous connections too. Thus, you could use the VPN to stream content on your iPhone, tablet, SmartTV, laptop, computer all at the same time. In theory, you could share the subscription plan with your friends and family too. Surfshark is compatible with all major operating systems, including macOS, Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux. It is also suitable for connection on your SmartTV, Apple TV, or Amazon Fire TV.

The provider utilizes advanced protocols such as IKEv2/IPSec, and offers access to an extensive range of over 3,200 server locations, ensuring fast, stable connections. Surfshark will enable you to watch your favorite content in high-definition, without buffering.

If you enjoy split tunneling, Surfshark will allow you to utilize the VPN server for streaming while allowing your other online activity to run through your normal IP internet connection. The Whitelister (or split-tunneling) feature is available to activate on most of the provider’s platforms and clients. You can choose which apps and sites use the VPN server and which bypass it.

Although it may not have such an extensive range of security and privacy features as some of its competitors, Surfshark does offer a truly great streaming VPN at an excellent price. There is also a great live-chat support feature in case you run into any issues and a 30-day money-back guarantee for additional peace of mind.

4. Hotspot Shield VPN

Hotspot Shield provides first-rate security features and fast speeds for streaming.

Thanks to its proprietary Catapult Hydra protocol, Hotspot Shield promises super-fast connection speeds for streaming. It offers access to over 1,500 servers in more than 100 locations, meaning that you have an endless choice when it comes to choosing a fast server location. This means that you can stream your favorite shows in 4k high definition (HD) with ease.

Hotspot Shield is successful at unblocking Netflix and a range of other popular streaming services such as Amazon Prime, BBC iPlayer, HBO, and Hulu. The VPN will enable you to bypass geo-restrictions and stream new movies as soon as they are released, even when they are not available in your region.

The provider also offers excellent customer support with a useful live chat option. However, the VPN is straightforward to use, so issues should not be too common. The client is easy to set up on mobile and desktop, meaning you will be streaming the newest releases in no time.

When it comes to privacy while streaming, Hotspot Shield offers complete DNS protection, which means that your actual IP address will never leak as long as the VPN is activated.

Hotspot Shield provides protection for up to 5 simultaneous devices, which is enough for most typical users and is an average number among its competitors. If you require the streaming VPN on a greater number of connections, set it up on your router to use the service on all of your devices.

With Hotspot Shield’s premium plan’s there is also a 45-day money-back guarantee, which is more than most providers offer. This means that you can try the product risk-free for 45-days and request a refund if you are not completely satisfied.

5. ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN one of the best VPN providers for accessing streaming services, especially if you are concerned about your online security.

ProtonVPN is known for its exceptional privacy and security features, however, it is successful at unlocking some of the best streaming services too. It allows access to YouTube, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, US and UK Netflix, Disney+, and Amazon Prime.

The provider has significantly expanded its service in recent years and now offers over 1073 servers across 53 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, North America, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea. This extensive range of server locations means you should have no issue accessing a server in the same region as your desired Netflix library.

ProtonVPN Premium offers up to 10 device connections, depending on the plan you choose, which is double the industry average, and means that you can stream your favorite shows on all of your devices, and even share your subscription with your partner too.

When it comes to user privacy and security, ProtonVPN is one of the best VPN providers. The VPN includes a kill-switch, complete DNS leak protection, and utilizes military-grade encryption to ensure your real IP address and personal data remain safe and secure online. There is also the option to utilize split tunneling, to choose which apps or websites run through the VPN connection and those that don’t.

ProtonVPN also boasts an excellent no-logging policy that reassures customers that it will never monitor or store user internet activity and cannot pass such information on to third parties. There is no VPN session logging either, apart from your previous login’s mere timestamp, and this information is rewritten on each subsequent login.

There are sophisticated clients for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, enabling you to use ProtonVPN for streaming on almost any device. Proton’s apps are all also open-source and independent audited, so you can rest assured that your private internet data is protected.

ProtonVPN offers a range of subscription plans, offering a greater number of features for a slightly higher price. The Basic plan does not grant access to the provider’s premium servers, supports just 2 device connections, and is unsuccessful at unblocking Netflix. So, if you are looking for a streaming VPN, it is likely that ProtonVPN’s Plus or Visionary Plans will be more suitable. These plans cover 5 or 10 device connections respectively and enable streaming on premium servers.

All of Proton’s subscription plans are covered by a limited 30-day refund guarantee, which means that you will only receive a refund for your unused subscription period. Thus, if you signed up to the VPN for a month and request a refund after 2 weeks, the provider will only refund half of your subscription fee.

6. CyberGhost VPN

CyberGhost is a great choice for streaming content from around the world. Its extensive range of sophisticated features makes for an excellent streaming experience.

Thanks to its huge server network and advanced features, CyberGhost is one of the best streaming VPNs. If you want to access streaming services from around the globe on all of your devices, CyberGhost will enable you to do so with ease.

It is compatible with all major operating systems including Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, Smart TVs, and gaming consoles. The provider also offers support for up to 10 devices, enabling you to share your subscription with the rest of your family.

CyberGhost even boasts dedicated streaming servers that enable you to bypass geo-restrictions and access overseas Netflix libraries easily. The provider is successful at overcoming Netflix’s strong firewall and VPN blocker. Its website even features a list of the best servers for accessing different Netflix libraries. Connection speeds and streaming performance are also great with this provider, meaning that you can watch your favorite content in high-definition and buffer-free.

There is also a useful split tunneling feature, which you can choose to activate if you want to use the streaming VPN but you want all of your other online activity to utilize your normal IP server.

CyberGhost also offers first-rate security and privacy features to ensure your private data remains protected. It utilizes military-standard encryption and advanced protocols such as OpenVPN, IKEv2, and L2TP/IPSec. The VPN also offers an integrated ad-blocker, which prevents exposure to malicious advertising or malware. Also, if you want to complete anonymity online, Cyberghost’s no-spy servers are a useful addition.

The provider is based in Romania, a country that enjoys good data retention laws and is not part of the 5-Eyes-Surveillance-Alliance. CyberGhost also has an excellent no-logs policy which ensures that your data and online activity are never stored or misused.

CyberGhost also offers impressive customer service with a 24/7 live chat support option and comprehensive set-up guides on its website. If you are ready to commit to a long-term plan, CyberGhost’s 18-month plan works out at an impressive $2.75 per month. Its 6-month and 18-month subscription plans also come with a reassuring 45-day money-back guarantee for additional peace of mind.

7. Private Internet Access (PIA) VPN

Private Internet Access is one of the best streaming VPNs thanks to its eye-watering number of servers.

PIA offers unlimited bandwidth, access to an incredible server count, and can unblock Netflix and a range of other streaming sites, making it a great streaming VPN.

PIA boasts a huge range of over 16,000 servers across 76 countries. Its extensive server count ensures access to US Netflix, Youtube, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. However, the provider cannot overcome BBC iPlayer’s strong VPN blocking technology, which may be a disappointment for those wanting to stream UK content.

The provider utilizes advanced protocols including OpenVPN, L2TP/IPSec, and WireGuard ensuring fast, reliable, and secure connections. There is also an integrated kill-switch to ensure your private data is protected even in the case that your VPN connection fails, for additional peace of mind. PIA also offers an excellent, verified no-log policy which means that the company will never store or sell customer data.

It is compatible with all major operating systems including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and Linux. The VPN’s clients are easy to install and simple to navigate, making the service a great choice for even beginner VPN users. There is also support for up to 10 simultaneous device connections, which is twice the industry average.

PIA provides an excellent range of comprehensive troubleshooting guides on its website. There is no live chat, meaning that it may take a few hours for a query response, which is disappointing, especially considering the excellent live services offered by many of the provider’s competitors. However, considering PIA’s low cost, this likely is good enough for most users.

Despite that PIA’s monthly plan is somewhat expensive, its long-term subscription offers incredible value for money at less than $3.30 per month. There is also a 30-day money-back guarantee in case you change your mind.

Does a VPN Stop Buffering?

There is nothing worse than buffering when you have settled down to watch coverage of a crucial Football match or your favorite movie. It may be that your Internet Sevice Provider is throttling your connection speed. But how do you know whether your ISP is controlling your internet speeds, and how do you stop it?

Internet Service Providers are known to deliberately slow or throttle user connection speeds. This can happen for a number of reasons. You may have exceeded your monthly bandwidth limit or missed the last payment on your plan. In many cases, ISPs simply cannot sustain the lightning-fast connections that they initially promise. Unlimited bandwidth and fast connections are expensive to supply, and often, internet providers cannot meet user demands with continuous HD streaming, gaming, and downloading.

Your internet provider may throttle your connection speed, no matter what plan you are subscribed to. Servers often become congested or overwhelmed, leading to providers restricting users to lower speeds. Some internet providers may limit users to a certain amount of high-speed data usage each month. If you notice slower connection speeds at the end of the month, it may be that you have reached your data limit.

Not all users are affected by internet throttling, and it will depend on your internet activity and how much time you spend streaming or gaming. A VPN may help with slow internet connection speeds. A VPN works by encrypting and masking your internet activity, meaning that your provider will not be able to view your data usage. If you want to check whether your VPN works to stop throttling, run an internet speed test before you activate the VPN and afterward.

Also, try altering the location of your VPN server and notice whether it affects your connection speed. A server that is located in close proximity to you will ensure higher latency and thus faster speeds. Another way to ensure minimal buffering and optimal speeds is to change your VPN protocol settings. Some protocols, such as OpenVPN, are designed for high-security and can come at the cost of lower speeds. If security is not your main priority, the PPTP protocol will give you the fastest speeds at a lower security level.

Is There a Free Streaming VPN?

We would typically recommend that you avoid free VPN services if your main goal is to stream content. Most free VPN plans come with meager data restrictions and bandwidth limits, rendering them useless for streaming.

It is also necessary to remain cautious when it comes to free VPNs in general. While some free versions from the best VPN providers are great, less reputable, free VPN providers can pose a harmful threat to the users they claim to protect. Many free VPNs come riddled with adware or malicious advertising and weak protocols that put your data and identity at risk. Some providers even log and sell private user information to third parties for profit.

With that in mind, it is usually better to choose a paid VPN for your streaming needs. However, there are some reliable free VPNs available such as ProtonVPN’s free version. ProtonVPN’s free plan will grant unlimited data usage, which is extremely rare in a free VPN from a premium provider. Thus, you can stream as much as you want without worrying about exceeding your bandwidth limit.

However, as with any free plan, there are limitations. Proton limits users on the free plan to just three servers, which significantly restricts the amount of geo-blocked streaming content that you can access. The free version also comes at the cost of lower connection speeds compared to the paid subscription plans, meaning that you may not be able to stream in high definition (HD).

Despite its limitations, ProtonVPN offers one of the best free VPNs on the market. While you may not access every Netflix library, you will gain access to some additional geo-blocked content while enjoying unlimited bandwidth.

Author Cliff Durward

Hi, I'm Cliff. You can find me in Cleveland, Ohio with my wife and kids. I love cybersecurity! I've been writing about it for a decade now and have always loved the space. My favorite articles to write are how-to guides that...
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Last updated: June 9, 2021