5 Best VPNs for Streaming HD Video Online

One of the main benefits of using a VPN is that it enables you to unblock streaming sites and live TV channels online, from anywhere in the world. However, if you have ever tried streaming with a VPN, you will know that not every service is suitable for streaming. The best VPN for streaming has a worldwide server network, provides fast speeds, and is able to unblock the websites that you want to access. In this guide, we list the five best streaming VPNs and give you some top tips on using a VPN for streaming. 

 

Using a VPN for streaming is remarkably easy - even for VPN newbies. We've outlined four steps below that'll get you set up:

  1. Sign up to a service that has the features you need - we've made some recommendations below.
  2. Download the VPN on your device. All of our recommended VPNs are compatible with Mac, Windows, Android, and iOS.
  3. Connect to a server in the location you want to pretend to be in. For example, if you want to access US Netflix, connect to a US server.
  4. Then access the website you want to unblock!  Because your IP address is changed, you'll be able to access content that is blocked in your actual location.
 

New to VPNs?

If you're new to the world of VPNs and want to learn more about what they can do, take a gander at our guided list: 

  • What is a VPN? - This is a true beginner's guide to the world of VPNs. Our expert defines what a VPN is, lists the benefits of using one, and shows you how to use it.
  • Proxy vs VPNs - Although a VPN changes your IP address like a proxy, they have a lot of other benefits too. In this guide, we explain what they are and explain why using a VPN is better than a proxy.
  • Using a VPN for torrenting - A VPN is practically a necessity for torrenting. Find out what VPNs we recommend for this, as well as some handy tips in this guide. 

The Best VPN for streaming 2020 - Quick comparison

We've researched and tested more than 150 VPNs to identify five of the best for streaming. The providers we've listed all have fast servers in popular locations, and the ability to bypass geo-blocks on websites and streaming services. For a more detailed look at any of the VPNs we've hand-picked, be sure to click through to the provider's website or check out our summaries.

  1. ExpressVPN - is one of the fastest VPNs out there and servers in over 90 countries
  2. CyberGhost VPN - A speedy service that'll banish those buffering circles
  3. Private Internet Access - Stream in security with solid encryption and a no-logs policy
  4. Surfshark - Fast and unblocks loads of stuff
  5. Ivacy - Fast, with a dedicated streaming unblocker tool

Best VPNs for Streaming - Summaries

Below, we look at the five best streaming VPN services in more detail. We've noted the features that make each service a fantastic option, though if you need any more information, click through to the provider's website or take a look at our detailed VPN reviews.

ExpressVPN is one of the fastest services on the market and has servers in over 90 countries

  • Pricing

    From  $6.67 - $12.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Not only does ExpressVPN have servers in 94 countries across the globe, but they're all lightning fast and reliable - making Express a top option for streaming in HD. A VPN for streaming needs to provide privacy, and ExpressVPN is ideal because it provides OpenVPN encryption implemented to an incredibly secure level. The outcome is a VPN with unrivaled streaming capabilities, and its subscribers can use the services to unblock video content in most regions around the world. They are also permitted to watch content from torrent (P2P) sites like Popcorn Time (which feels like streaming but is really torrenting - if you're after a VPN for torrenting rather than streaming, click here).


With the security and privacy that ExpressVPN gives you and the speeds to watch anything, this truly is an HD VPN. In addition, Express is one of the only VPNs that still unblocks Netflix and BBC iPlayer. As such, this VPN video solution is an all round winner. Reliability and uptime are also absolutely astounding on this streaming VPN. The software is lush and is available for all platforms. This VPN will even keep you secure when traveling and on public WiFi. Finally, customer care is via live chat and is 24/7: this is brilliant because you can get help unblocking any stream at any time. With a 30-day money-back guarantee on the table, it would be silly not to give them a try!

CyberGhost unblocks everything and throws in the kitchen sink for free

  • Pricing

    From  $2.75 - $12.99
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Unlimited bandwidth and a massive network of 6,300 servers make CyberGhost a stellar pick for anyone wanting a VPN to stream with. CyberGhost banishes ISP throttling and easily accesses a wealth of in-demand streaming sites; Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, and BBC iPlayer included.


CyberGhost is compatible with most devices, and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox users are also available. Up to 7 simultaneous connections are allowed, meaning you can share your subscription with the family and keep all of your devices safe - and CyberGhost's AES 256-bit encryption really will provide a secure online experience.


What's more, CyberGhost is a staunchly no-logs service based in Romania, and you'll be able to make use of industry-leading protocols such as OpenVPN and IKEv2.


24/7 customer service is at hand whenever you need help, and a lengthy 45-day money-back guarantee ensures you can fully test the service before committing to a subscription.

Private Internet Access is known for privacy, but also great for streaming HD content

  • Pricing

    From  $2.69 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Private Internet Access (PIA) is a great choice for streamers on a budget - particularly when purchased yearly. For the diminutive price tag, you get a premium feeling service and speedy servers.


PIA offers more than 2,700 servers in 47 countries, meaning you won't be stuck for content. HD streaming isn't a problem, either, as PIA doesn't enforce any bandwidth or data caps to slow you down.


Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android devices can all support PIA, and up to 10 simultaneous connections are allowed with your subscription. What's more, PIA can unblock Netflix and BBC iPlayer libraries - so the whole family can catch up.


Besides strong AES 256-bit encryption, PIA will keep your information and traffic secure with top-notch protocols, and you can take your pick from OpenVPN, L2TP/IPsec and WireGuard.


A 30-day money-back guarantee lets you try before you buy, and if you're stuck at any point, PIA's 24/7 customer service team is on hand to help.

Surfshark is a great all-round performer that's also good for HD streaming

  • Pricing

    From  $1.94 - $11.95
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Surfshark always impresses us with the quality of service it provides for its very low price tag. It has servers in over 60 countries around the world, which are fast for streaming and Surfshark successfully unblocks sought after services like Netflix US, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime. Besides its VPN service, Surfshark offers Smart DNS service to all customers. This might work when the VPN is blocked, and it can be configured on devices such as games consoles and smart TVs that don’t support VPN apps.


The split-tunneling feature for Windows and Android is also useful for streaming, as it allows you to include (or exclude local services if you usually connect to an overseas VPN server) only selected websites and apps in the VPN - such as streaming sites and apps! Surfshark is otherwise a great no-logs VPN that offers lots of bells and whistles, including unlimited simultaneous VPN connections, Smart DNS, static IP addresses, DNS ad-blocking, and MultiHop VPN. Test it yourself risk-free with the company's 30-day money-back guarantee.


 

Ivacy is perfect for unblocking HD streaming services

  • Pricing

    From  $1.50 - $7.50
  • Available on

    • Windows
    • macOS
    • iOS
    • Android
    • Linux
  • Unblocks

    • Netflix
    • iPlayer
    • Hulu

Ivacy took the third place prize for "Best Overall VPN" at the the ProPrivacy.com Awards - the industry gold standard for recognizing achievement within the VPN sector. What's more, Ivacy also scooped the award for Best VPN for Speeds, solidifying the provider as a fantastic all-rounder and top pick for Netflix junkies. 


Ivacy has a large pool of servers to pull from, with more than 1,000 in over 100 locations worldwide. These servers are all speedy, and you won't need to worry about ISP throttling slowing your streams. Ivacy's Purpose Selection tool is a nifty little feature that makes it even easier to select the best streaming server.


Allowing up to 5 simultaneous connections means the whole family can stream without buffering hiccups or lag spikes.


Ivacy is compatible with most devices - Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS included, and browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox are also available. Ivacy is a no-logs VPN provider based in Singapore. Although it’s been around for years, Ivacy has recently and quite dramatically reinvented itself to become one of the most spectacular “new” players in an industry that is becoming increasingly professional.

Why do I need a VPN for Streaming?

Using a VPN for streaming enables you to watch your favorite shows from anywhere in the world. For example, you can watch US Netflix outside of the US (which has more content than any other version of Netflix), Watch iPlayer outside the UK, and more! You can also use a VPN to stream live sports online. 

Choosing the right VPN for streaming

When selecting a VPN for streaming, it is important to consider two important factors:

  1. Speed

    You will need a fast VPN because streaming, particularly in HD, is an extremely data-intensive task. The VPNs in this guide are lightning-fast, so you won't have to suffer the heartbreak of a laggy video. However, the speed of every VPN differs, so be sure to take a look at the summaries above as the average weekly speed of each VPN is listed.

  2. Server locations

    Depending on what you want to watch, you will need to connect to a server in a specific location. All the VPNs in this guide have servers in the most important locations around the world - with a presence in 50 or more countries.

VPN Not Unblocking a Service: Proxy Error Message

There are plenty of VPNs that have trouble accessing streaming services, largely thanks to sites like Netflix actively blocking IP addresses that belong to VPNs. This barrage is hard to keep up with, but the good news is that there are services out there doing all they can to stay ahead of these blocks.

If you're subscribed to a VPN and find you can't bypass a restriction, it's worth getting in touch with the customer support team to see if a solution exists.

Can I use a free VPN to stream?

Probably not. There are free VPNs that we’d recommend for day-to-day browsing, but they aren’t viable for streaming - and certainly not in HD. Streaming sites like Netflix are constantly blocking the IPs of VPN servers, and most free VPNs will struggle to navigate around this. What’s more, a free VPN is often the smaller sibling of a premium service, and often come with limitations you wouldn’t experience with a subscription:

  • Limited bandwidth - As well as congested servers, a limit to your bandwidth means you’ll encounter lag spikes and sluggish sites more often.
  • Data cap - A number of free services do offer unlimited usage, but typically, you’ll be stuck with a measly 500mb per month. This won’t be enough to stream consistently.
  • Reduced number of servers - A free VPN may not offer you access to all the servers that’d be available with a paid subscription. This greatly reduces your options when it comes to accessing geo-blocked content.

Conclusion

A VPN is the perfect way to unlock a global library of content to stream. From classic box sets and movies to live sports, a VPN can spoof your location to wherever it needs to be. We’d recommend any of our top five VPN picks for the job, but be sure to vet any potential services for server numbers and locations, and average speed. What’s more, a VPN comes with a whole host of other benefits - catch all your favorite shows as they air, and stay secure whilst you do so!

 

Written by: Ray Walsh

Digital privacy expert with 5 years experience testing and reviewing VPNs. He's been quoted in The Express, The Times, The Washington Post, The Register, CNET & many more. 

2 Comments

Jenny
on February 20, 2018
Reply
It's strange that nordvpn is missing in this list. I manage to use nordvpn for streaming quite well it worked with BBC I Player and Kodi as well.
https://cdn.proprivacy.com/storage/images/proprivacy/02/member-dougjpg-avatar-image-default-1png-avatar-image-default-minpng-avatar_image-small.png
Douglas Crawford replied to Jenny
on February 20, 2018
Reply
Hi Jenny, NordVPN is very good, and appears in many of our lists (and it no. 2 in our Best VPN Services list!). As you can see from our new speed tests, though, while NordVPN is no slouch, there are faster VPN out there.
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