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How to STOP Buffering When Streaming Videos 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.

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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.

Wanna cut to the chase? Here are the best VPNs to stop buffering for good:

  1. NordVPN Best Against Buffering – NordVPN has been dealing with ISP shenanigans for years, and has developed their feature set to counteract unfair throttling and buffering.
  2. Surfshark – A new, but thoroughly modernized VPN capable of sneaking through DPI.
  3. ExpressVPN – Speed is the name of the game with this provider, thanks to their powerful server network.
  4. StrongVPN – A trusted catch-all VPN with plenty of privacy provisions.

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

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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 For instance, if your VPN provider only supports outdated standards like PPTP, then your ISP is more likely to detect and throttle your VPN traffic.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!

Comparison of the Best VPNs to STOP Buffering When Streaming Videos

VPNs
Average Speed
191.4Mbps
191.25Mbps
181.11Mbps
75Mbps
Countries
60
100
94
30
Servers
5400
3200
3000
950
Uptime
99%
99%
99%
99%
Log Policy
Logs Present
Logs Present
Logs Present
Logs Present
Live Chat Support
  • 24/7 Live Chat
  • 24/7 Live Chat
  • 24/7 Live Chat
  • 24/7 Live Chat
Optimized for Torrenting
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Streaming Unblocked
  • Netflix,
  • Disney+,
  • Amazon Prime,
  • iPlayer,
  • YouTube,
  • Hulu
  • Netflix,
  • Disney+,
  • Amazon Prime,
  • iPlayer,
  • YouTube,
  • Hulu
  • Netflix,
  • Disney+,
  • Amazon Prime,
  • iPlayer
  • Netflix,
  • Disney+,
  • Amazon Prime,
  • iPlayer,
  • YouTube,
  • Hulu
Free Trial
30 Day Free Trial
7 Days Free Trial
30 Day Free Trial
No Free Trial
Money Back Guarantee
30 Days Money Back Guarantee
30 Day Money Back Guarantee
30 Day Money Back Guarantee
30 Day Money Back Guarantee
Connections
6
Unlimited
5
12
Works in Your Country
Best Price
$2.99/month
$1.99/month
$6.67/month
$43.99/year

How to Stop Buffering: The Best VPNs For Streaming

Onto the main attraction: Our recommended list of VPNs to stop buffering. 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 and creating buffering issues. Geo-spoofing will also allow you to avoid censorship, if accessing the content happens to be a problem in your country.

Without further ado, our top 4 VPNs proven to beat unfair ISP throttling and to stop buffering:

1. NordVPN

Works in United States
4.5 / 5
NordVPN
Top Features
Number of Servers
5400
Speed
Average of 191.4 mbps
Countries
60
Devices Supported
Up to 6
24/7 Live Support
Yes
Money Back Guarantee
30 Days Money Back Guarantee
Streaming Sites Unblocked
Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu
Torrenting
Yes
Exclusive Deals
Best Deal
Standard at $2.99/month
Plus at $4.49/month
Complete at $5.49/month
Apps Available
NordVPN Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Very fast speeds make this a strong choice for 4K streaming
  • Mind-boggling number of servers
  • Allows up to 6 devices to be connected at once
  • No logs and encrypted connections for total privacy
  • Money back guarantee policy (30-days).
Cons
  • Automatic server selection can be unreliable
  • Apps can sometime be slow to connect.
  • 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, buffering issues, 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.

2. Surfshark

Works in United States
4.4 / 5
Surfshark
Top Features
Number of Servers
3200
Speed
Average of 191.25 mbps
Countries
100
Devices Supported
Up to Unlimited
24/7 Live Support
Yes
Money Back Guarantee
30 Day Money Back Guarantee
Streaming Sites Unblocked
Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu
Torrenting
Yes
Exclusive Deals
Best Deal
24 Months at $2.69/month
1 month at $17.69/month
12 Month at $4.09/month
Apps Available
Surfshark Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Unblock 15 international Netflix libraries, including the US and Japan
  • Multi-hop connections readily available
  • Accepts all major credit cards, Apple, Google, and Amazon Pay, PayPal, and even Bitcoin
  • Absolutely no logging of connection data, IP addresses, bandwidth used, or traffic
  • Helpful 24/7 live chat with an actual human being.
Cons
  • Overall, not much to complain about
  • Apps may be too simplistic for power users.
  • Neflix Streaming: Yes
  • Geo-spoofing: Yes
  • Censorship bypass: Yes

Surfshark is a relatively new VPN, but it has fast become the bane of overreaching ISPs looking to unfairly throttle your connection and create endless buffering. All the VPN basics are not only in place, but upgraded to the most modern iterations. This includes the 256-AES-GCM encryption cipher, paired with OpenVPN, IKEv2/IPSec, WireGuard tunneling protocols. These alone are usually all you need to confound your local ISP.

But if they get wise and start sniffing out your VPN traffic, Surfshark will automatically detect these efforts and launch the appropriate countermeasures. It might be obfuscation to defy deep packet inspection, or even the NoBorders method to break through censorship–even China’s Great Firewall.

There are over 800 servers available in 50 countries, with multi-hop and static IP servers available. And, Surfshark offers reliable access to 14 international Netflix libraries, and counting. Not bad for a new guy.

3. ExpressVPN

Works in United States
4 / 5
ExpressVPN
Top Features
Number of Servers
3000
Speed
Average of 181.11 mbps
Countries
94
Devices Supported
Up to 5
24/7 Live Support
Yes
Money Back Guarantee
30 Day Money Back Guarantee
Streaming Sites Unblocked
Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, iPlayer
Torrenting
Yes
Exclusive Deals
Best Deal
12 Months at $6.67/month
6 Months at $9.99/month
1 Month at $12.95/month
Apps Available
ExpressVPN Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Unblocks Netflix and other streaming sites
  • Super fast servers
  • Govt-level AES-256 encryption
  • Strict no-logs policy
  • 24/7 Live Chat.
Cons
  • Slightly more expensive than some other options.
  • 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 offers 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, buffering 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.

4. StrongVPN

Works in United States
3.8 / 5
StrongVPN
Top Features
Number of Servers
950
Speed
Average of 75 mbps
Countries
30
Devices Supported
Up to 12
24/7 Live Support
Yes
Money Back Guarantee
30 Day Money Back Guarantee
Streaming Sites Unblocked
Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime, iPlayer, YouTube, Hulu
Torrenting
Yes
Exclusive Deals
Best Deal
Annual Plan at $43.99/year
Monthly Plan at $10.99/month
Apps Available
  • 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.

Basics of Buffering and Internet Speed 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 buffering issue or 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.

Buffering

Buffering is a normal part of the internet, and it will likely never go away completely. The process allows data to be front loaded before it plays, providing smoother video streams that don’t stutter or skip. When buffering happens at the beginning of a video and only lasts a few moments, everything is fine. Even the occasional pause in the middle of a video to catch up on cached data is normal.

Excessive buffering, however, is an obnoxious issue. It could mean your internet connection is slow, the company delivering your video has slow servers, or something is wrong with the video itself. In most cases, however, buffering issues come down to a problem with your ISP. If your internet speed just isn’t up to snuff, you’ll probably spend more time watching buffering animations than videos themselves. The same is true of downloads which continually stop and start, or else simply grind to a craw.

Throttling

Throttling is the process of artificially slowing down an internet connection. ISPs such as Verizon often throttle connections in an attempt to conserve data and charge users more to access faster streams. It’s an unfair practice, for sure, and it can cause all sorts of buffering issues on a variety of devices.

If you encounter frequent buffering screens, you may want to check to see if you’re being throttled. Start by visiting BattleForTheNet’s throttling test site. Click the button and wait for the results to see if you’re being throttled by your ISP. If so, contact them immediately, or just use a VPN to bypass the throttle altogether.

Usage-based Speed 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 Speed 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.

Other Methods to Reduce Buffering

Buffering isn’t always caused by throttling. VPNs can often reduce delays in other circumstances, usually without much effort on your part. If you still encounter slowdown, try these tips below for maximum speeds.

Tweak Your VPN Configuration Settings

Most VPNs will immediately put a stop to throttling efforts simply by connecting to an anonymous server. In some cases this may not be enough to reduce buffering, however. You can often change some of your VPN’s settings to try a more aggressive approach.

To begin, open your VPN’s configurations page and look for an option to change security settings. Inside, check for ways to alter the default port, toggle extra encryption protocols, or switch encryption types altogether. Below are a few common changes you might be able to make that often help stop throttling and reduce buffering.

  • Use UDP or TCP port 1194, the official OpenVPN port
  • Enable SSH connections on any port
  • Activate SSL encryption on any port
  • Switch to UDP or TCP port 80
  • Try a high port, like 41185

Use an SSL/TLS Tunnel

SSL (Secure Socket Layer) tunnels are a reliable method for defeating ISP throttling efforts and reducing video buffering. Whenever you see a website with a green padlock icon, that means it was secured with HTTPS, or HTTP secure. This protocol uses SSL, and you can do the same for all of your internet traffic, making it fast, anonymous, and difficult to track.

Stunnel is the most popular piece of software for setting up and using SSL tunnels. It takes a little research to do properly, but once it’s complete you’ll be able to bypass throttling in an instant. You can also choose a VPN service that offers SSL tunnels by default, such as NordVPN, mentioned above. This method reduces the security of your connection by just a bit, but it’s much faster and can be the key to eliminating buffering altogether.

Conclusion For A Buffering Connection

Getting a high quality VPN is how to stop buffering problems. That’s why NordVPN 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 about how to prevent buffering? 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. NordVPN 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.

1 Comment

  1. There are no vpn’s that will stop internet speed throttling because the ethernet adapters they install on your system are only rated at 100u . So even though you may have a Realtek rated at 1Gbps you will never come close to acceptable speed.I have 500u and when I enable Express VPN I’m throttled back to about 45u to sometimes 91u. All VPN ethernet drivers are outdated and incapable of providing users with acceptable download speeds. Download and try Belarc Advisor with your VPN enabled it’s an eyeopener. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3a6326528e17288cd9dc0c36dcb3ed24b1190dd8d118efe28fd884d023f0be52.jpg My Realtek adapter is rated at 1Gbps Express adapter is rated at a dismal 100u.This is the age of ultra high internet speeds these guys better get with the program or go home.

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