Can Netflix See Your Location?
You’re probably aware that Netflix already knows many things about you – your email address, the personal information associated with your payment method, and your taste in movies and TV shows.
But does Netflix also know what your geo-location is?
Well, the truth is that yes, the site definitely knows where you are located. We’ll tell you how in this quick guide. We’ll also take a look at what Netflix does with your geo-location, and how you can hide it from them.
How Can Netflix See Your Geo-Location?
To put it simply – the website sees it every time you visit it. Netflix checks your IP address, which tells it everything it needs to know – what country and city you are from, who your ISP is, and what your ZIP code is.
Here’s a quick look at how the whole process works:
1. You visit Netflix. At that moment, your device sends connection requests to the site through your web browser. Among other data, those requests contain your IP address.
2. Netflix receives your requests.
3. It then checks them, and sees your IP (so your geo-location).
Why Does Netflix Need Your Geo-Location?
It needs to know what regional library to redirect your connection requests to, basically.
Here’s the thing – Netflix isn’t just one big website that’s the same worldwide. Instead, it’s split into different content libraries, each one unique to each country. So there’s a Netflix US library and a Netflix UK library.
By knowing your geo-location, Netflix can make sure you end up on your country’s regional library.
The Problem with Different Content Libraries
Since they’re not the same, it automatically means some regional libraries will have more content than others. For example, the US library has the most titles right now (around 5,932). On the other hand, countries in Latin America have roughly 4,100-4,200 titles. And countries like Norway and Portugal only have around 3,000 titles.
Not really fair, right? Especially if you’re in a country where the subscriptions are more expensive – like Norway, where a standard plan costs around $10 per month, and a premium plan costs approximately $17-$18 per month.
Well don’t worry – we’ll show you some really easy ways to unblock any Netflix library you want (no matter where you are in the world).
How to Hide Your Geo-Location from Netflix
Our tests show that either one of these methods should work well:
1. Use a VPN
VPNs are online services that hide your IP address by routing your traffic through a VPN server. Here’s how they work:
1. You subscribe to a VPN, download an app, install it, and use it to connect to a VPN server. The server’s location has to match the Netflix library (so a US server if you want to unblock the US library).
2. The VPN app and server will establish an encrypted connection. Nobody can spy on any data that passes through it.
3. When you visit Netflix, the VPN server will act as a middleman between the site and you (like so: Device à VPN Server à Netflix).
4. Because of that, Netflix thinks the VPN server is the source of your traffic. So, it only sees the VPN’s IP address.
5. Netflix then redirects you to a regional library that matches the VPN server’s IP.
And here’s a really cool thing that only a VPN can do – prevent bandwidth throttling (when your ISP slows down your speeds). If you live in the US, you know how annoying that can be.
Well, since they can’t inspect your traffic anymore, they won’t know you’re binging Netflix. They’ll only see you’re exchanging a lot of data with a VPN IP address. Due to that, they won’t be able to selectively throttle your Netflix speeds.
You’ll need a really good VPN, though. Using the wrong one will result in you seeing the Netflix proxy error every time you want to watch a movie or show.
To find a good Netflix VPN, we recommend using StreamCatcher. It’s an online tool from ProPrivacy that tells you where Netflix titles are available (what countries). Also, it recommends three VPNs you can use to unblock the content you want.
The suggestions are backed by ProPrivacy’s data, so they’re definitely accurate. They’re one of the largest VPN review sites on the web, and they regularly test numerous VPNs to see how well they unblock Netflix.
2. Use a Proxy
There’s not much to say about them – they work like VPNs, except they don’t use strong encryption (or any at all, sometimes). Other than that, it’s the same thing – you use a proxy server whose location matches the Netflix library you want to unblock (a German proxy for the German library).
While weak or no encryption means you can’t really stop bandwidth throttling, proxies do have one pretty cool perk – their local cache. Basically, they can save requested content to it, and retrieve it faster (since they don’t need to forward requests to the web).
Translated, that means you should get faster load times.
3. Use a Smart DNS
This is an online service that helps you unblock geo-restricted content by hiding your geo-location. But it doesn’t do it like VPNs and proxies (by hiding your IP). Here’s how it works instead:
- The Smart DNS tweaks your DNS settings so that they don’t leak your geo-location (it makes sure you’re not using your ISP’s DNS server).
- The service also routes your traffic through proxy servers in countries that match the regional library you want to unblock.
- Finally, the tool removes metadata from your DNS queries which can leak your geo-location. Then, it replaces it with new data that’s linked to a whitelisted region (a country that matches the regional library).
Smart DNS services don’t use encryption, so bandwidth throttling can be an issue. On the plus side, you shouldn’t experience any slowdowns like you would with VPNs and proxies.
However, there’s not much point in using a stand-alone Smart DNS. Many VPN providers actually offer this kind of functionality alongside their main VPN service.
How Do You Stop Netflix from Seeing Your Geo-Location?
Do you use a VPN, a proxy, or a Smart DNS? Or do you use a different method that we didn’t mention?
Please let us know in the comments below. Also, if you liked this article, we’d really appreciate it if you’d give it a share and like on social media.
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