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How to STOP ISP Buffering With a VPN

Chances are, if you’ve landed on this page, you already know that you need the best VPN to help stop buffering, throttling, and blocking imposed by some countries and ISPs. But how to pick a provider you can trust to deliver bang for buck? Check out our comprehensive guide on how throttling happens, and which VPNs are best for buffer-free streaming.

ISPs, or Internet Service Providers, draw a lot of criticism for what many see as overreaching and greedy policies. This applies especially in countries where ISPs have a lot of political pull, which results in data caps, unfair content throttling, and, in extreme cases, outright content blocking. A slowed, censored internet isn’t something any consumer wants. Fortunately, VPNs exist that can circumvent issues like these.

Below, we’ll explain different examples of ISP buffering and throttling, then give you our recommend picks for VPNs to resolve these issues.

How to get a FREE VPN for 30 days

If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.

Will VPNs Always Work to Beat ISP Slowdown?

In most cases, yes!

Unfortunately, there are a few exceptions. Properly-encrypted VPN traffic will fly under most ISP’s radars, and successfully bypass content-specific buffering and throttling. However, a particularly analytical ISP will be able to figure out that you’re using a VPN, and if they do figure that out they may opt to throttle your VPN traffic or your connection as a whole. In either case, this will prevent you from utilizing a VPN to bypass artificial streaming restrictions.

LEARN MORE: How Egypt Detects and Blocks VPNs

The big determining factor is what protocols your VPN supports. For instance, if your VPN provider only supports outdated standards like PPTP, then your ISP is more likely to detect and throttle your VPN traffic. The best VPN protocols, like OpenVPN, combined with something like 128 or 256-bit encryption, are much less likely to be detected and throttled by your ISP.

With a high-quality VPN, this becomes less of an issue. And fortunately, many top-tier VPNs allow you to trial their service and refund your money if it doesn’t work as intended. In other words,  if a reputable VPN doesn’t help you deal with your bad ISP, you don’t need to worry about throwing money down the drain!

Best VPNs to Prevent Buffering

Onto the main attraction: Our recommended list of VPNs for this usage scenario. We focused on high-speed VPNs that are capable of Netflix viewing and geographical-spoofing, since streaming media is often what your ISP may be throttling on your connection. Geo-spoofing will also allow you to avoid censorship, if accessing the content happens to be a problem in your country.

Without further ado, the top 3 VPNs proven to beat unfair ISP throttling:

1. ExpressVPN

  • Netflix Streaming: Yes
  • Geo-spoofing: Yes
  • Censorship bypass: Yes

ExpressVPN is our winner, as it usually is whenever it qualifies for one of these matchups. This is because it’s one of, if not the very best VPN providers out there. ExpressVPN offering blazing-fast speeds, excellent circumvention of restrictions (largely due to its incredible network of 3,000+ servers in 94 countries), and powerful 256-bit AES encryption to protect the privacy of their customers. This does come at a price, though.

Yes, ExpressVPN does cost more than other providers, in some cases significantly. However, ExpressVPN is also the provider that we have the highest confidence in when it comes to circumventing ISP throttling and censorship, so if you want the best chance of success and are willing to pay a little extra, we think that ExpressVPN is the best place to start.

Additionally, if you happen to have greater privacy concerns, ExpressVPN is still a fantastic option. It offers all of the most robust VPN protocols including industry leader OpenVPN, software support for a full complement of operating systems across virtually all major devices, and anonymous payment options including Bitcoin. Additionally, ExpressVPN only logs dates connected and amount of data transferred. IP addresses, content and so on are not logged by this provider, which is great news for many privacy junkies out there.

For an amazing solution to bypassing content restrictions while having industry-leading security, snag ExpressVPN.

Read our full ExpressVPN review.

Pros
  • Unblocking Netflix USA, iPlayer, Amazon Prime
  • Super fast servers
  • Govt-level AES-256 encryption
  • Keeps no logs of personal data
  • 24/7 Live Chat.
Cons
  • Priced slightly higher.
BEST VS THROTTLING: ExpressVPN is the fastest provider on the market, and perfect to beat buffering by your ISP. Get 3 months free and save 49% on the annual plan. 30-day money back guarantee included.

2. NordVPN

  • Netflix Streaming: Yes
  • Geo-spoofing: Yes
  • Censorship bypass: Yes

NordVPN is another strong option, and also happens to come in a bit cheaper than ExpressVPN and some other contemporaries. Make no mistake: NordVPN is a high-end solution for users who don’t want to compromise on speed or safety, so it’ll still take a bigger bite out of your wallet than some cheap VPN provider would.

However, you get that value back indefinitely, with super-secure privacy provisions (including 256-bit AES encryption) and unlimited access to the whole of the internet through its massive server network of 5,600+ nodes in 60 countries. NordVPN easily bypasses censorship and other content restrictions, so it should be ideal for bypassing ISP buffering as well.

NordVPN is based in Panama, which means that it does not need to conform to US data retention laws. As such, they maintain a strict no-logging policy, much to the delight of privacy conscious users everywhere.

For a great solution to bypassing content restrictions and throttling, snag NordVPN. While it may not be the fastest of the fast, it’s still an incredible service, especially for the price.

Read our full NordVPN review.

Pros
  • Unblocks American Netflix
  • Mind-boggling number of servers
  • Up to 6 simultaneous connections
  • No logs and encrypted connections for total privacy
  • Great support (24/7 chat).
Cons
  • Automatic server selection can be unreliable
  • Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
BEST BUDGET VPN: Get a huge 70% discount for signing up for the 3-year plan, taking the monthly price down to only $3.49. Also note that all plans come with a “no hassle” 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. StrongVPN

  • Netflix Streaming: Yes
  • Geo-spoofing: Mixed Reports
  • Censorship bypass: Yes

StrongVPN is the last on this list, but well worth your consideration. While StrongVPN boasts high speeds and the ability to bypass censorship, its ability to geo-spoof certain streaming applications and Netflix seems to be more of a game of cat-and-mouse than a consistent, reliable solution for that particular usage scenario.

To specify, most of StrongVPN’s servers should be able to circumvent censorship and allow you to watch Netflix and other geographically-locked content. There are many that don’t, and if you’re particularly unlucky, testing different servers may end up being a game of trial and error, as opposed to simply toggling on your VPN and being able to enjoy your favorite streaming content.

Despite that, StrongVPN is still a solid solution, and its lower monthly price compared to its competitors may make it worth the purchase, especially if you aren’t looking to buy an extended membership.

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Understanding Throttling

Before recommending a VPN, it’s important to understand the issue to its fullest extent. A VPN will not work with every form of speed-throttling your ISP may throw at you, and in some extreme cases it may not help at all. As much as we’d love to sell you our recommended VPN providers, it’s more important to us that you’re informed before making any purchasing decisions.

Usage-based Throttling

One of the most common forms of ISP throttling is based on usage. This in itself has two subcategories: usage after a data cap has been passed, and high-volume usage.

Continuing to use your Internet service after you’ve passed a data cap will have different effects depending on your contract with your ISP. Some ISPs will simply keep charging your bill as you go over your data allotment for the month, while others will slow down your service until the next billing cycle begins.

In the latter scenario, a VPN will not help you. Your entire connection is being slowed down, not just a particular type of traffic. If anything, the overhead of a VPN may even make the problem worse.

When it comes to high-volume usage, an ISP may feel inclined to take action if a user is using much more traffic than other users on their network, or if the network as a whole is under load. (This is particularly common for gamers, heavy streamers, or torrent users.) In both of these scenarios, an ISP may slow speeds across the board, especially if their network can’t actually support everyone using the full power of the Internet connection simultaneously.

A VPN, unfortunately, will not help you with this form of throttling, either.

Content-based Throttling

Content-based throttling is when an ISP throttles a particular type of traffic. This is usually video content as a whole, or traffic from particular web services, like Netflix. ISPs generally know what kind of traffic is going through their networks, and if they take a closer look they can also spot certain sites or services that are the cause of high-volume usage spikes. Whenever this is happening, users may experience inconsistent speeds across different usage scenarios, which is confusing at best and infuriating at worst.

Fortunately, VPNs are much better at circumventing this form of throttling. If you use a good VPN, you’ll be able to bypass content-specific censorship or throttling and enjoy streaming content at proper speeds befitting your Internet connection. Additionally, if your ISP is outright censoring this content, a VPN will also allow you to bypass that censorship and enjoy sites and services that you otherwise couldn’t.

If content-based throttling is the problem you’re facing, you’re in luck! A VPN will help.

Conclusion

Overall, ExpressVPN is our top choice for the best VPN to prevent buffering by your ISP. Since it’s generally among the fastest out there, it should also allow you to make the most of your internet connection and allow you to enjoy the smoothest experience while streaming media.

Have any questions? Disagree with our pick? Comment below and let us know what you think!

How to get a FREE VPN for 30 days

If you need a VPN for a short while when traveling for example, you can get our top ranked VPN free of charge. ExpressVPN includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. You will need to pay for the subscription, that’s a fact, but it allows full access for 30 days and then you cancel for a full refund. Their no-questions-asked cancellation policy lives up to its name.

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