As recently as the early 2000s, HD streaming videos were a luxury only a few people could afford. As time and technology progressed, internet speeds became faster, hardware matured, and suddenly HD streams were commonplace. In recent years, even HD has become somewhat obsolete with things like 4K videos and ultra HD quality movies hitting the market. Streaming hi-def shows carries privacy risks just like any online activity, however. Fortunately, you can protect your connection against throttling and lock down personal information by using a virtual private network. Read on to find the best VPNs for streaming in HD, 4K, and beyond.
- 1 Evaluating the Best VPN for Streaming in HD
- 2 How to Defeat ISP Throttling with a VPN
- 3 Get More Speed from Your VPN
- 4 Watch HD Movies and TV Shows on Kodi
Evaluating the Best VPN for Streaming in HD
To watch HD, 4K, and ultra HD video streams, you need all the speed you can get. In the world of VPNs, however, speed often comes at the price of privacy, which is an unacceptable trade-off to most users. For these reasons and more, it can be difficult to pick the best VPN for streaming in HD. We’ve made the process simpler by providing a list of recommended services below. Each was selected based on the following criteria, ensuring you always have the fastest VPN service possible, all without sacrificing your online privacy.
- Speed – VPNs are, on average, anywhere from 10 to 20% slower than a standard internet connection. To maintain your top speeds for HD content, you need a VPN that puts a high priority on fast downloads across its entire server network
- Bandwidth limitations – A few VPNs still limit the amount of bandwidth you can use per day, week, or month. This can quickly put a cap on your HD video watching, so always make sure your VPN features unlimited bandwidth
- Traffic restrictions – A surprisingly common practice among low-tier VPNs is to block certain types of downloads, especially traffic from P2P networks and torrents. Both of these technologies are routinely used to stream HD videos
- Logging policy – Online privacy hinges on a VPN’s logging policy. If logs are kept, data can be stored for an indefinite amount of time, allowing government agencies or other third parties a chance to get access. If no logs exist, your information is safe, plain and simple
- Device compatibility – Watching HD streams doesn’t just happen on your desktop PC. Make sure you’re protected on every HD-compatible device by using a VPN that offers custom software for a wide variety of platforms, including tablets, laptops, and smartphones
1. ExpressVPN: Speed, Speed, Speed
ExpressVPN has some of the fastest servers on the VPN marketplace. The company strives to deliver incredible download speeds without skimping on privacy features. It succeeds by deploying a relatively small network of 145 servers in 94 different countries, a list large enough to provide location variety but small enough to allow for better hardware. No matter where you live or where the server you connect to resides, with ExpressVPN, you’ll get a solid, lag-free connection. There’s even built-in speed test software to help you verify ratings and switch to a new server.
As for privacy, ExpressVPN uses the industry standard 256-bit AES encryption, locking information down to keep prying eyes at bay. Data that passes through servers is further protected by a comprehensive zero-logging policy that covers traffic, DNS requests, and IP addresses. Local software comes with DNS leak protection and an automatic kill switch, both of which are designed to keep your identity hidden should your internet connection suddenly disappear. All in all, ExpressVPN manages to provide top speeds and strong privacy features, all in an easy to use package.
ExpressVPN’s best features include:
- Custom software and apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices
- No restrictions on bandwidth, P2P network downloads or torrent traffic
- Break through censorship barriers in countries such as China
- Consistent and reliable access to Netflix streams
- Unblocks US Netflix, BBC iPlayer and other streaming services
- Super fast servers
- No DNS/IP leaks found
- No logging policy well enforced
- Live chat support available.
- Max 3 connections simultaneously
- Slightly pricier than competition.
2. IPVanish: Fast, Private, and Anonymous
IPVanish is the best VPN for fast speeds and anonymous HD streams. The network is powered by over 850 servers in 60 different countries, featuring an astounding 40,000 shared IP addresses. This ensures you’ll always be able to find a great connection in the region of your choice, all while staying hidden in a crowd of other users. DNS leak protection and automatic kill switch features help make sure your identity doesn’t slip through the cracks, as well.
As for privacy, IPVanish doesn’t take shortcuts, either. The service delivers 256-bit AES encryption to secure everything from end to end. A zero-logging policy on all traffic ensures your activity doesn’t stick around for third parties to take a peek. All of this adds up to the perfect amount of online privacy and anonymity, and you get access to it without sacrificing even a little bit of speed.
IPVanish features at a glance:
- Watch anonymous HD streams on Kodi without alerting your ISP or tipping off copyright trolls
- Download movies and TV shows through BitTorrent with full anonymity
- Easy to use apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android devices
- Secure servers with fast connection speeds for incredible HD videos
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3. NordVPN: The Best Server Network
NordVPN delivers exactly what users want from their VPN: fast speeds, strong privacy, and a huge network of servers. At the time of writing, NordVPN has over 1,080 servers in 61 different countries, a list that’s constantly growing as the days go by. You can access the entirety of this network with unlimited bandwidth, unlimited server switching, and no restrictions on P2P or torrent traffic, as well.
NordVPN has one of the most all-inclusive zero-logging policies around, covering everything from traffic to time stamps, bandwidth logs, and even IP addresses. This is in addition to 256-bit AES encryption (with select servers that offer 2048-bit encryption), DNS leak protection, and an automatic kill switch on multiple versions of their custom software. With NordVPN you always know you’re getting the fastest connection possible, and you’re not giving up your privacy to do it.
More of NordVPN’s best features:
- Specialized servers that offer faster P2P downloads, double encryption, onion routing, or DDoS protection
- Reliable access to Netflix streams despite constant attempts at blocking VPNs
- User-friendly apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and more
- Unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions on P2P traffic or torrents
- Unblocks US Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime and other streaming services
- No bandwidth caps
- Allows up to 6 devices to be connected at once
- No logs and encrypted connections for total privacy
- Live chat support is available.
- Some servers can be slow and unreliable
- Apps can be a bit cumbersome to use.
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VyprVPN takes some unique tactics when it comes to preserving your online privacy and anonymity. The most useful of these features is Chameleon, an exclusive protocol that defeats deep packet inspection (DPI) deployed by ISPs and governments to throttle speeds or spy on user activity. Chameleon wraps packet metadata in an extra layer of encryption to obfuscate the origin and destination. This lets more traffic slip through censorship barriers and region blocks, making VyprVPN incredibly useful for areas like China, Russia, and the Middle East.
VyprVPN also owns and operates their entire network of servers, over 700 in 70 different countries. This means the same company controls all hardware maintenance and software upgrades, preventing third parties from gaining access to servers. Add a zero-logging policy on all traffic, 256-bit AES data encryption, and both kill switch and DNS leak protection features, and you’ve got an ideal VPN service that’s both private and secure.
VyprVPN also includes the following:
- Anonymous and private web browsing and HD video streaming anywhere in the world
- Easy and free custom apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS smartphones
- Unlimited bandwidth and no restrictions on P2P traffic or torrent downloads
PureVPN does more than just provide encryption, virtual location switching, and other VPN exclusive services. If you’re looking for an all-in-one internet security suite, PureVPN is definitely the choice for you. Some of its more notable extra extras include a built-in ad-blocker, web filtering options, malware protection, anti-phishing features, and even anti-virus scanners. To use all of these incredible bonuses, all you have to do is download PureVPN’s software, sign in, and start browsing.
As for its VPN specific features, PureVPN doesn’t pull its punches. You’ll get complete kill switch and DNS leak protection, as well as 256-bit AES encryption to lock down all of your information. PureVPN also owns and operates its entire network, over 750 servers in 141 countries. Third parties never have access to your data, and with PureVPN’s excellent zero-logging policies, you’re guaranteed a safe and reliable connection to the internet.
PureVPN’s best features:
- Extra features include anti-virus protection, web filters, ad blocking, and anti-phishing measures
- Custom apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and even Chromebooks
- No restriction on torrent or P2P traffic and completely unlimited bandwidth
How to Defeat ISP Throttling with a VPN
There are hundreds of ways to access HD movie streams online, everything from Netflix to YouTube, Amazon Instant Videos, and Kodi. Depending on the method you use, your local ISP might deploy throttling efforts to help them save on bandwidth costs. These throttles silently decrease your download speed whenever you start streaming a movie. If your HD videos frequently buffer despite having fast internet service, you could be a victim of ISP throttling.
Fortunately, VPNs generally make quick work of artificial slowdowns of this nature. A VPN’s encryption alone is often enough to defeat ISP filters, as it masks the type of traffic you’re using by default. Instead of “Kodi stream from X website”, your ISP simply notices the traffic and passes it along unhindered.
Even with encryption, some ISPs can persist in throttling HD video streams, often resorting to slowing down all VPN traffic. Follow the tips below to stop ISP throttling so you can resume your high quality movies without interruption.
- Change ports – Port monitoring is a common method of controlling internet traffic. If you use a different, unmonitored port, however, you’ll often get by without being noticed. If your VPN software allows it, try switching to TCP port 80 or TCP port 443
- SSH tunnels – A more complex method of bypassing VPN blocks is to wrap your traffic in an additional layer of encryption, obscuring the fact that you’re using a VPN. You can quickly make an SSH tunnel on Linux and Mac systems, though Windows will take some extra configuring
- SSL tunnels – An alternate to SSH tunnels above that accomplishes nearly the same thing. SSL tunnels are offered by NordVPN, but you can also download the stunnel software and set things up from there. It’s more complex than the other methods and can be a little slower, but it’s practically guaranteed to bust through VPN throttling efforts
Need a more detailed guide? Follow our tips on how to bypass VPN blocks to get your HD streams back on track.
Get More Speed from Your VPN
ISP throttling isn’t the only thing that could be slowing down your connection. There are a dozen or more weak points between your screen and the stream you’re downloading, and if any one of them fails, the only thing you’ll be watching is a buffering image. If you’ve ruled out throttling but still aren’t getting the speeds you should be, try the tips below.
- Experiment with different encryption types – VPNs rely on the OpenVPN protocol to manage traffic, as it offers the best balance of speed and privacy. You can switch to other protocols if you’re willing to trade a bit of privacy in exchange for speed. If your VPN offers the option, try switching to L2TP/IPSec or PPTP protocols
- Switch VPN servers – Factors such as server load and physical distance can have a tremendous impact on connection speeds. If you don’t need access to a particular country’s IP addresses, pick a VPN server closer to your location to help reduce lag. You can also try a less populated server to see if that speeds up your stream
- Use a different device – Not all hardware can handle HD, 4K, or ultra HD content, especially tablets and smartphones. If your video playback is stuttering instead of buffering, chances are it’s a hardware issue, not a problem with your connection speed. Try the same stream on a laptop or desktop PC to see if that solves the issue
- Plug in a network cable – Wireless internet is convenient, but it’s notoriously spotty, especially if you’re far away from the broadcast point. If you’re watching a stream on a computer and experience frequent buffering, grab a network cable and plug directly into the router. Wired connections are far more reliable than Wi-Fi, and often faster, too
Watch HD Movies and TV Shows on Kodi
One of the best ways to stream HD movies to your device is through Kodi, the free open-source media center software. Kodi is powered by third-party add-ons that provide access to content you didn’t even know existed. Interested in high-quality foreign films? HD sports streams? Entire TV series for a good binge watch? Kodi’s add-ons can hook you up!
Finding a reliable add-on for the content you need is the real challenge. We’ve scoured the web in search of the best Kodi add-ons for HD, 4K, and ultra HD content. Whether it’s blockbuster movies or old TV shows you’re interested in, the links below can help you find good-quality videos.
- Best Alternatives for TVAddons – The shutdown of the TVAddons repository left a gaping hole in the Kodi community. Here are a few alternatives that have all the stream sources you could ever need
- Best Kodi Add-ons for IPTV – High-quality internet streaming TV channels delivered straight to your Kodi player
- Best Kodi Add-ons for Live TV – Watch a little broadcast television from your computer, just like the old days
- Best Kodi Add-ons for Movies – Popular and niche movie streams from reliable repository and add-on creators
- Install SuperRepo on Kodi – The biggest repository of them all has thousands of add-ons.
- Kodi Add-ons for Cartoons and Anime – A little entertainment for the kids, or more mature shows for teens and adults