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VPNs are complicated pieces of software. Originally, they were developed by engineers and for engineers. But now they are everywhere, usually used by people who want to make use of their location spoofing technology. That complexity never went away though, and problems can come up frequently.

Let’s talk about what you can do when your VPN isn’t working and some common fixes.

Table of Contents:


Common Fixes to VPNs ➡️

VPNS, short for “virtual private networks”, work by connecting to servers owned by the VPN service. These servers will usually be in foreign countries, allowing a person to falsify which country they are connecting from. But a lot can go wrong with this process, so here are the most common solutions.

1. Connect to Somewhere Else

Usually, the problem is not with your computer or your internet. The problem is with the connection you are trying to make. When you try to connect to a different country’s internet, you need to connect to a physical data centre in that country. If that physical data centre is too far, then it won’t work.

You might also be experiencing an issue “on the way” to connecting to that server. Whenever you connect to the internet, your connection is “directed” from one data centre to another until it reaches its intended destination. There might be problems with the data centres that are directing you.

2. Update or Upgrade the VPN You are Using

This is really two fixes in one. To begin with, not all VPNs are made equal. Some are going to be better at connecting to foreign countries’ internet networks than others. This really comes down to their “protocols”—their method of communicating with the data servers.

The problem might be with your VPN, meaning that it simply does not have the ability to connect to the places you want to connect to (even if it says that it can). The solution here is to change VPNs.

But don’t go blaming your VPN too quickly. Data centres update their internet connection protocols all the time, and it is totally possible that something got out of sync on their end. For the same reason, VPNs will frequently keep themselves up to date as well. This is most common when a connection you have made before suddenly stops working: You might just need to update your VPN.

3. Adjust Your Netflix Video Quality

Nobody wants to do this, but it is one of the easiest steps to take to try and fix your VPN issues. You might try this if everything seems to be working with the VPN right up until you start playback on a video of some kind. This indicates that your internet cannot handle streaming that much data.

But you might be thinking, “My internet is amazing and expensive, why can’t it handle streaming it?”

Consider this: If you are in China and streaming Netflix from the United States, then that signal has to pass through a lot of different internet service providers. Not all of them are going to have the same bandwidth. Even if you are in the United Kingdom, streaming from another continent is hard.

Therefore, it is not just your own bandwidth that has an effect on how much data you can stream. If you are having trouble at the moment you stream video, try lowering your video quality. It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to stream video in 4K or anything like that.


Uncommon Fixes for VPNs ➡️

Those three will fix minor issues and problems that do not take much complexity or know-how. But you might also run into some problems that require you to look up a tutorial on how to fix them even after you have read this article on how to diagnose them.

1. Buy or Use a Residential IP Address

In August of 2021 Netflix disallowed access to their service from any IP address that was not “residential”. How do they know which IP addresses are residential and which are not? Well, it all comes down to the address itself. IP addresses look complicated, but they have a simple anatomy.

An IP address can tell you whether or not the internet connection it refers to is residential, business, or governmental. It can also tell you which country they are from, and even which internet service provider they use. All of this information is used to determine which form of Netflix you get, or if you get it at all.

It is entirely possible that the IP address you are spoofing with your VPN is not a residential IP address. Since most of the time VPNs give you essentially random IP addresses, it is unsurprising that they would accidentally give you a non-residential one every so often.

Most VPNs will give you the ability to reconnect with a different IP address, edit the IP address you connect with (within limits), or even use a dedicated residential IP address that is not in use.

2. Change Which Device You are Using

When Netflix disallowed non-residential IP addresses, they also made edits to what devices you could watch their streaming service on at all. There is no particular device that is disallowed, but there are some devices that have frequent problems due to how they connect to your own internet.

Basically what is happening is that one of the many data points besides either an IP address or an IPv6 address that you use to connect to the internet is your DNS server. Your modem has a DNS server address, but your other devices might have a different DNS server address.

This can be true even if you do not have a VPN, but it is most common as a result of using a VPN to connect to the internet. Whatever the reason, Netflix blocks access to any device that is connecting to their streaming service with a different DNS server address than the modem they are using to connect.

You can either change which device you are using, or you can just go onto your computer and use that. Most VPNs that work through a computer are capable of spoofing your modem’s DNS server address, while VPNs that do the same thing on smaller devices tend to have fewer permissions of the same kind.

3. Disable Your IPv6 Address

Not every VPN will be able to do this at all, but it is critical that your VPN be able to do this in order for it to stream Netflix. The reason why is that Netflix reads your IPv6 address in order to determine your location. But you might be wondering: “What is an IPv6 address in the first place?”

An IPv6 address is basically similar to a normal IP address. You can think of your IP address as your internet’s phone number or street code. In order to connect to the internet, your computer needs to send a variety of other data points, and this is one of them. But here is the thing: While Netflix looks at your computer’s IPv6 address, most VPNs will only change your IPv4 address.

That means you need to be sure to get a VPN that is capable of disabling your IPv6 address.


Quick Changes to Your VPN You can Make ➡️

Not every adjustment you make needs to be highly complicated. Sometimes it is just a matter of asking for help or navigating the menus of your VPN. 

1. Change Your VPN Protocol

When words like “protocol” come into play, it is easy to think that something complicated is about to happen. But in this case, most of the complexity happens under the hood. That is because this is a change you can make to your VPN through their menus. 

In fact, it should be one of the basic settings. We cannot go over every single VPN’s menu, but they should have something labelled VPN Protocol. There will be a number of options available to you, and none of them are right or wrong. They are just different methods of connecting to the internet.

That means if one is not working, try a different one. Keep doing that until you find one that works or run out of options.

2. Ask Customer Support for a Different Server or Their Best Server

VPNs have to be constantly updating themselves, as we mentioned earlier. For that reason, they are not designed with a pre-packaged “best” method of doing things. However, the people working in their customer support departments will frequently know what the best at the moment is.


Conclusion

A lot of things can go wrong with a VPN. But even more frustrating than that, Netflix is actively working against VPNs. Keep that in mind, as it is something that VPNs are trying to deal with all the time.

Stay aware of what your VPN does, keep in mind what Netflix is doing to try to counter it, and above all: Be patient. The people who provide the VPN want your VPN to work as much as you do.

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