If the quarantine did one thing right, it was to give people the time they needed to binge on their favorite Netflix shows. The app's download numbers surged in the countries most affected by the pandemic, and people are streaming so much content now that it's actually straining the Internet.
Many of you have probably even started using VPNs to unblock other Netflix libraries - especially the US one since it has the most content.
However, some of you might see the dreaded Netflix proxy error message when you try using a VPN:
It really puts an end to all the fun you were planning on having.
The good news is that there are some things you can do to try and fix this. This article will show you how to fix the Netflix proxy error, and will also go over why it happens in the first place.
Why Do You Get the Netflix Proxy Error When Using a VPN?
Because Netflix knows you're using a VPN or a proxy to unblock its content, obviously.
But how exactly do they know that?
It's likely they continue to use the same method they did when they started blocking VPNs and proxies back in 2016 - blocking IP addresses associated with these services.
Basically, they have a huge list of IP addresses that belong to VPN providers. If the website detects you're using one of the addresses on the list, it'll deliver that error message.
How does Netflix collect those IP addresses? Here are some possible explanations:
- They notice multiple logins on the same IP address. That's probably because the VPN uses static IP addresses instead of dynamic addresses.
- They check suspicious IP addresses and find out they belong to data centers. They could use an IP lookup tool that will tell them the name of the ISP (which in this case is a data center). For example, we used a Dutch VPN server, and the tool gave this name for the ISP: LeaseWeb Netherlands B.V. If you google it, you'll see it's a data center.
- Netflix could also use an automated script like this one to detect which IP addresses belong to data centers.
- There's a chance Netflix blocks traffic routes that come from data centers associated with VPNs. They might even partner up with ISPs to make sure they only get "legit" traffic routes.
- The company could partner up with businesses that provide data about IP addresses - like what country, city, and location they are from, and whether or not they are residential, commercial, or proxy addresses. MaxMind is an example of such a company. We're not saying Netflix works with them, but their website should give you an idea of what kinds of services they would use.
- Netflix might check if your browser has tracking cookies from multiple geographical locations. That usually means you have been using multiple VPN servers in different countries.
Now, we're not saying that's exactly how Netflix detects VPN usage. We don't have any insider information about how the platform works, so those are just some speculations. If you know other ways Netflix could detect VPNs, let us know in the comments or on social media.
Why Does Netflix Go Through All that Trouble?
It has to, really. Here's why:
- Netflix doesn't own the copyright to all the content on the platforms. Different entities own many of the shows and movies in the libraries, and they don't authorize Netflix to broadcast them worldwide.
- The copyright holders sold the viewing rights to other distributors other than Netflix. So while Netflix might have the right to show a series in the US, they might not have the right to do it in Italy, where a local TV network has the right to broadcast it instead.
- Netflix can't stream its own content in a specific country if they already sold the rights to a local network. In that case, they need to wait until the contract expires or try to buy the rights back (usually for an absurd price). So, the best way to avoid dealing with that problem is to geo-block the content.
That all makes sense, to be honest. But, ultimately, you're still not allowed to watch certain shows simply because you're from the "wrong" part of the globe, which is totally unfair.
Plus, the Netflix proxy error affects US users too. Some of you probably use a VPN to prevent your ISP from throttling your bandwidth while you binge Netflix. So you might get that error message. And if you do, it only leaves you with two outcomes:
- Not being able to watch the content you pay for.
- Watching shows and movies while dealing with annoying random slowdowns.
How to Fix the Netflix Proxy Error (10 Things to Try)
Here's a list of tips you should check out. We ranked them in order of how convenient they are, so we recommend trying them out that way:
1. Restart the VPN Connection and/or App
This is the simplest fix. Just disconnect from the VPN server you are using, wait a few seconds, and reconnect again.
If you keep getting the same error, try restarting the VPN app instead. Again, wait a few seconds before running it after you shut it down.
2. Try a Different VPN Server
Just make sure you use one that's in the same country as the Netflix library you want to unblock. So that means the US for American Netflix, for example.
Some VPN providers, like CyberGhost VPN, have dedicated servers for Netflix or streaming in general. If that's the case for the service you're using, connect to those servers for this purpose.
3. Update the VPN App If You Didn't Already
A VPN client isn't just for show. Besides looking good, it also manages the VPN connection to make sure everything is working well.
An outdated app can cause IP leaks or it may not refresh server IP addresses, resulting in the Netflix proxy error message. So if you have any update notifications, go ahead and update the software until it's at the latest version.
4. Use Incognito Mode
There is a chance your browser is leaking your geo-location to Netflix. Basically, the VPN you're using tells Netflix you're in the US, but your browser says you're in Germany, for example.
So close your browser, run the VPN, and open a fresh incognito tab. It should ignore any geo-location data your browser cached, so it won't share it with Netflix.
5. Turn On the Kill Switch
This is a feature that shuts down your web access when your VPN connection goes down. And that can happen due to multiple reasons. Yes, even if you use the most reliable VPN provider.
But wait - shouldn't they just redirect you to your country's library instead of spamming you with the error?
It's hard to say. If you're lucky, maybe. If you're not, they'll consider the quick shift in IP addresses suspicious, and associate it with VPN usage.
True, what a Kill Switch does is extreme and inconvenient when you're binging Netflix. But it's way better than having your account associated with VPNs. It could result in Netflix blacklisting your real IP address, not just the VPN server's address.
To learn more about Kill Switches, and see a full list of VPN providers that offer this feature, check out our in-depth guide.
6. Test the VPN for Leaks
VPN leaks mean the service leaks your IP address and traffic out of the encrypted tunnel. So even though you're running a VPN, Netflix will still see your real IP address (so your geo-location too).
Just like the Kill Switch scenario, Netflix could redirect you to a different page. But they could also flag your IP address switch as VPN behavior, thus resulting in the Netflix proxy error.
Here's the easiest way to test for leaks:
- Use this tool and take a screenshot of the results.
- Run the VPN.
- Reload the tool page.
- If you see your original IP or DNS addresses pop up, you're dealing with a leak.
If your VPN has leaks, don't worry. There are things you can do to fix the problem.
7. Try Disabling WebRTC
WebRTC is pretty useful since it offers better performance for video chatting, live streaming, and file sharing web apps. However, it has one major drawback - Netflix (or any other site) could exploit WebRTC to find out your real IP address even if you're using a VPN.
So yeah, it's basically a VPN leak. We made a separate section for this in case some of you don't want to read our lengthy guide about leaks.
All you need to do is disable WebRTC in your browser. Here's an article that shows you how to do that on the most popular browsers.
If this won't work, though, you should go back to the article about VPN leaks and see if you're not dealing with a different one (a DNS leak, for example).
8. Get Rid of Cookies
Like we already said, Netflix could get your real geo-location from tracking cookies on your device even if you're using a VPN to hide it. Since cookies are text files stored on your computer, there's not much a VPN can do about them.
So you should try clearing your cookies before you use the VPN to unblock Netflix. Here's a simple guide from NordVPN that shows you how to do that on most browsers (both on desktop and mobile). And maybe use a privacy-focused browser that blocks some third party cookies too.
9. Ask the Provider for a Dedicated IP Address
Unlike a shared IP address, a dedicated IP address is only used by one VPN user. In theory, that would make it easier for someone to match your online activities to it, but it's not a massive risk if you use a reliable VPN.
Leaving that aside, with a dedicated IP address, you should get rid of the Netflix proxy error. They're much less likely to blacklist a dedicated address because they don't consider it shady. After all, they won't see multiple sign-ins coming from the same IP address, just one.
Usually, getting a dedicated IP address will cost extra. On NordVPN, for example, a dedicated IP will cost $70 per year.
Luckily, there are some services that offer dedicated addresses at no extra cost. PrivateVPN does that as long as you use the OpenVPN + TUN + UDP + 1994 encryption option.
If you can make that dedicated IP address a residential one, that'd be even better. Netflix won't trace it back to a data center anymore, but a legit ISP. TorGuard offers that feature, though it will cost you around $8.
10. Contact Your Provider's Support
If none of these tips helped, it's time to contact your VPN provider's support team. They should be able to tell you if the service is only having temporary problems with Netflix (which are usually fixed fast), or if Netflix access will be down for a longer period.
Hopefully, your provider offers live chat and 24/7 support, so you won't have to wait long to get a response.
Can Obfuscation Fix the Netflix Proxy Error?
Maybe. It's tough to say. While Netflix could use DPI to detect and block VPN connections, there is no proof that they actually do that. It's way more probable that they use IP blacklisting, as we mentioned at the start.
Still, if your network admin blocked Netflix and uses DPI to make sure you can't circumvent the block, VPN obfuscation will come in handy because it will hide your VPN traffic.
Either way, if you think VPN obfuscation could help, give it a try and see how it works out.
Want to Binge Netflix Uninterrupted? Use a VPN That Unblocks Netflix for Real Then
If you don't want to deal with all the tips we mentioned above, the easiest thing you can do is get a VPN that has no problem unblocking Netflix. Usually, they'll advertise that perk on their websites. Though you shouldn't take all marketing copy at face value, so it pays to do some extra research.
Try reading about the service on Reddit, for example. Are users saying the VPN really unblocks Netflix all the time, or does it encounter issues regularly?
Besides that, you can also check out our guide on VPNs that actually work with Netflix. If you're in a hurry, here's the list:
VPN Still Not Working for You? Try Using a Smart DNS Instead
A Smart DNS is an online service that hides your geo-location. Unlike a VPN, it won't protect your IP address. Instead, it will:
- Hide your DNS (Domain Name System) address since it can actually leak geo-data.
- Intercept your connection requests to Netflix, and replace any data that leaks your geo-location with information pointing to a location in the US.
- Route your traffic through different proxy servers around the world (the US, in this case).
What's more, a Smart DNS doesn't use any encryption. So you don't experience any slowdowns while using it. Of course, that means you should only use a Smart DNS for streaming. Never use it for private online browsing.
In our experience, Smart DNS services have been great alternatives to VPNs. There's no research to back this up, but it might be because Netflix doesn't target Smart DNS services as much as VPNs.
And here's the cool thing - some services actually offer a Smart DNS + VPN package. So if one stops working with Netflix, you can try the other one. Here are some of our top picks:
- ExpressVPN - Their Smart DNS is called MediaStreamer.
- NordVPN - They call it SmartPlay, and it combines Smart DNS and VPN features.
- Surfshark - They offer a Smart DNS for Xbox, Samsung TV, LG TV, PS4, and Apple TV.
- Unlocator - Not great privacy, but offers more than decent streaming.
- CactusVPN - Less popular and has few VPN servers, but it offers excellent streaming and instant access to 300+ websites with the Smart DNS.
Can Proxies and DNS Codes Fix the Netflix Proxy Error?
Short answer - no. Long answer - here's what you need to know:
Why Proxies Won't Work
You could use one, but you shouldn't expect great results. Netflix targets proxies alongside VPNs. It's called the "Netflix proxy error," after all.
There's a very good chance Netflix will block the proxy's IP address. Also, if you use free proxies, it's unlikely that the provider updates the server IP addresses regularly to evade the block.
Plus, even if a proxy unblocks Netflix, you'll likely have to deal with overcrowded servers (so slow speeds), bad network optimization, and poor customer support.
Oh, and if you were looking for privacy while binging Netflix, a proxy can't really help you. Unlike a VPN, it doesn't offer very strong encryption. Not to mention that if you happen to use an HTTP proxy, the owner will be able to see all your browsing.
Why DNS Codes Won't Work
They really aren't efficient. They're basically DNS addresses you find online, which you set up on your router or device.
Here's the problem with them - even if they unblock Netflix at first, they eventually stop working.
What's more, DNS codes will point your traffic to DNS servers that are rarely prepared to deal with substantial traffic surges. So, you'll likely deal with unstable connections and very poor speeds.
Let's face it - anyone can get DNS codes with a quick Google search since they are free to use. Considering there's no way to pay for good network infrastructure, you can't expect decent service.
And lastly, DNS codes are risky. You'll mostly find them on shady-looking websites. Also, the owner of the server can easily log your traffic, redirect your requests to phishing websites, or expose you to MITM attacks if no encryption is used.
What If You Get the Netflix Proxy Error Without a VPN?
It sounds weird, but it can actually happen. Here are some possible explanations why:
- You're from the US, and your ISP uses DNS servers that aren't in your state. Netflix sees an IP address from one state, and a DNS address from a different one, so they assume you're using a VPN. Try setting your DNS to OpenDNS (22.214.171.124 and 126.96.36.199) or Google Public DNS (188.8.131.52 and 184.108.40.206) instead. Or (ironically) use a VPN with DNS servers in your state.
- There's a communication error between your device and Netflix. Try using a different device on your network to see if the error still appears. If it does, try the other things on this list.
- Your device or network got infected with malware. Run an antivirus scan (here are some great services), and make sure you install the security software on all your devices.
- Your ISP uses VPN-like web filtering software, made sudden changes to the network, or has IP blocks that Netflix blacklisted. In those scenarios, you need to talk with your ISP, and convince them to discuss the issue with Netflix to solve it (basically, get them to whitelist their IP address blocks).
Alright, Let's Wrap It Up
When you use a VPN with Netflix, you might get an error message saying the site detected you're using an unblocker or proxy. It's annoying, but it makes sense from Netflix's point of view in the end.
Many VPN users experience this issue since Netflix blacklists tons of VPN IP addresses. Usually, doing things like switching servers, clearing cookies, testing for leaks and preventing them, and using incognito mode can help. Though, it's best to use a well-known VPN for Netflix - such as ExpressVPN, CyberGhost VPN, and NordVPN, for example.
Do you know other ways to bypass the Netflix proxy error other than the ones we already mentioned in this guide? If you do, let us know, and we'll add them to this article if they work.