Do You Need a VPN for Streaming (for Netflix, Twitch, or P2P?)

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Video entertainment has come a long way since the days of cable, VHS, and DVD. Today more of us than ever depend on the internet for our entertainment, especially streaming video. In the meantime, many of us have discovered the importance of using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to keep our data safe and our identities secure. This raises the question, “Do you need a VPN for streaming?” Given the number of streaming video options and the specific needs of different users, there are quite a few things to consider in answering that question. Let’s take a look.

Discover the Best VPNs for Streaming:

  1. NordVPN – the best VPN for streaming in 2020
  2. ExpressVPN – fast speeds and great performance
  3. Surfshark – unblocks the most Netflix libraries
  4. PureVPN – dedicated streaming servers
  5. PrivateVPN – great alternative choice

If you get your movies through major providers like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, or Apple TV, do you need a VPN? There are few reasons you may want to use a VPN while streaming from major providers.

One is blocked content. Much of the content on these services is only shown in a limited geographical area due to licensing restrictions. To gain full access to the entire library on these services, you need the ability to gain control over your geographic location. With a VPN, you can choose your region, country, or even city. Just be sure the VPN you choose has servers in all the countries and regions you need.

Another reason to use a VPN is to hide what you stream from ISP. If you don’t want your internet provider knowing what you are doing, you must use a VPN. Not all of us want our ISP to keep tabs on our online activity. Even if we follow all the rules, some of us are not comfortable with someone having access to so much information about us and wonder what they might do with it. With a VPN, your activity is hidden behind the VPN server. Your ISP has no way of knowing what you are doing online.

Finally, VPN might improve your streaming speed and buffering. Some ISPs monitor our activity to determine how to prioritize traffic. We may find that our provider might slow down or throttle our connection speed when we are streaming video, making our video buffer or lowering the resolution. But again, with the VPN, your ISP only knows how much data you are using, not what you are using it for. Since it does not know what you do online it can not throttle your video streaming.

For users wishing to get their video entertainment through less mainstream platforms such as Popcorn Time, a VPN may be even more critical. Popcorn time and other P2P (peer to peer) BitTorrent clients can give you access to nearly any film or show available in a digital format. However, it may be critical to keep your IP address hidden to avoid unwanted attention from legal authorities and possible copyright infringement fines.

Your IP address will be masked with a VPN, and therefore your identity will be concealed from these unofficial streaming platforms. Also, your ISP will not be able to track your activity and link it to these sites.

There are plenty of devices available to stream movies. The Amazon TV devices offer a clean interface and native support of top streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. You can certainly use a Fire Stick without a VPN, but keep in mind that your ISP will be able to see what you are doing and may even decide to throttle the speed of your connection. This becomes even more critical if you are using your Fire Stick to access unofficial streaming sources. Again, a VPN can keep you safe from prying eyes.

When it comes to streaming video, Kodi may be the most powerful and flexible platform available. Whether you install the app on Windows, macOS, Fire OS, Android TV, or a Raspberry Pi, the customization options are endless. Many Kodi users will find a VPN especially critical if they are using it to stream through unofficial channels. In these cases, it may be especially important to keep your IP address away from others and your activity out of your ISP’s hands. A VPN will keep your Kodi usage anonymous.

So far, we have been looking at streaming longer-form content like movies and TV shows. But what if you are streaming video from Twitch, YouTube, Quibi, TikTok, Mixer, or others? Again, you don’t necessarily need a VPN to stream from these sites, but there are a couple of reasons you might want one.

First of all, in some locations, many of these sites are blocked. So whether you live in one of these countries or travel there, you will need a VPN with servers in another country to watch your favorite streams. Even if you are not in a country where your favorite site is blocked, you may still want a VPN. Again, some ISPs love to throttle content from these high-bandwidth sites leaving you with slow load times and buffering video. Your VPN keeps your usage information out of the hands of your ISP.

Are you a streamer? Discover if you need a VPN for streaming on Twitch.

If you decide that you need a VPN for streaming, be sure to choose one that will work for your intended purpose. Here’s what to look for in a VPN for streaming:

  • Fast Speeds: critical for HD streaming and fast video buffering
  • P2P support: if you’re going to use your VPN on P2P sites like Popcorn Time as well as torrenting. 
  • Unblocks streaming services: it should bypass geo-restrictions and unblock mainstream providers like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV, and others.
  • Extensive server network: important for good speeds and unblocking content
  • No-logs policy: to your private information from the wrong hands.
  • Apps for streaming devices: a VPN should have apps for SmartTVs, routers and other streaming devices
  • Security: strong encryption should protect your internet traffic from spies and hackers

Using this criteria we narrowed down some picks.

NordVPN logo
  • 5200+ global servers in 59+ countries
  • CyberSec malware and ad-blocking protection
  • Next-generation encryption with double VPN servers
  • Obfuscation technology that masks VPN traffic
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • Works with Netflix and good for streaming
  • Lightning fast with P2P support
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • ExpressVPN Logo Horizontal
  • 160+ locations and 3000+ servers
  • Strict No-Log policy
  • Unlimited streaming (Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer)
  • Strong military-grade AES 256-bit key encryption
  • Kill Switch, Split tunneling and RAM-disk servers
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and Linux support
  • Fast speeds and reliable connections
  • Surfshark VPN logo horizontal
  • 1700+ global servers in 61+ countries
  • CleanWeb ad-blocking feature
  • Secure and strong encryption with OpenVPN
  • Whitelister, Multi-hop VPN and kill switch
  • No-logs policy
  • Works with Netflix and good for streaming
  • Great speeds
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • PureVPN
  • 140+ countries and 2000+ servers
  • 31-day money-back guarantee
  • Hides internet traffic and easily unblocks geo-restricted content
  • Internet Kill Switch and IP leak protection
  • Offers the cheapest Dedicated IP addresses
  • Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and router support
  • Perfect for streaming Netflix, Hulu, BBC
  • Strict and audited no-log policy

  • PrivateVPN logo horizontal
  • Server locations in 60+ countries
  • Zero data logging policy
  • 2048-bit encryption with AES-256
  • Unlimited bandwidth and great speeds
  • Supports anonymous torrenting / P2P friendly
  • 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Allows port forwarding

  • Share or tell us what you think in the comments!

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