VPN for better streaming?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by 2010mini, Jul 19, 2014.

  1. 2010mini macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    Hello all,

    A friend of mine told me that to get better streaming quality, he uses a vpn on his laptop. Make sense I guess since a VPN can help avoid bottlenecks.

    On a Mac or iOS device it seems easy to download a VPN app. Has anyone here used VPN with the Apple TV to get better streaming quality? I know some use them for watching out of market content.

  2. millerj123 macrumors 65816

    Mar 6, 2008
    I'm pretty sure it's only going to help if your internet provider is throttling bandwidth (Think Verizon vs Netflix's ongoing battle).

    I've also heard about folks running downloads in the background to essentially "hide" the fact that they are streaming.
  3. 2010mini thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    I think it's obvious that all ISPs are throttling Netflix. even with the agreements that Verizon and Netflix has in place I still notice degraded quality at times.
  4. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
  5. millerj123 macrumors 65816

    Mar 6, 2008
  6. macalla macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2014
    I'm a little confused also.
    VPN is used when one wants to connect to a private network from another private network in a remote location.
    If you are already home, where would one be VPN'ing to?

    So suppose I was in Africa and I have my iPad with me. I want to watch Netflix, but unfortunately Netflix does not have a service agreement with that country. I would VPN into my home network and then Netflix would see my iPad as originating from within the US and voila, I get Netflix streaming.

    If I had a PC, the computer would look like it was just another computer inside my local network and I will have access to all my files in my home server via SMB or FTP or whatever file sharing protocols.
  7. 2010mini thread starter macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    By routing you around servers that are overloaded. Also by encrypting you from your ISP so they can't "see" what you are doing and route your Netflix stream through specific paths
  8. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    I assume the only place where this would have an effect then, if is your ISP is throttling specific content, such as data from Netflix (For instance)?
  9. macalla, Jul 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2014

    macalla macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2014
    VPN is implemented in two ways:
    1) remote client to VPN server, or 2) between 2 VPN servers.

    Running a VPN client or server in one computer suddenly doesn't make all the data impenetrable and invisible because all data has to exit your cable modem, then on to your ISP routers then on to Netflix. This data is not protected by your VPN software unless you somehow manage to login directly to Netflix's VPN routers, in which case the data will be tunneled all the way from your router to Netflix and protected. VPN tunneling only occurs between two VPN devices, a client-server or server-server.

    So the answer is, there is no way to hide your Netflix data packets from your ISP to avoid snooping and data throttling. Although the article mentioned using a VPN, there were no specific instructions on how this was implemented for Netflix. Just a bunch of info about OpenVPN and advantages.

    In any case, VPN is certainly not the most efficient means of connecting to Netflix. It would slow the connection down, not speed it up.

    Example 1 - Remote Client VPN
    Suppose I am at work and I want to watch Netflix movies but don't want my IT Admin to know and to bypass the packet filtering of our work network Firewalls. I'll VPN into my home network and stream from there. The packets will have to take this route.

    iPad -> work router/modem -> work ISP -> Internet -> my home ISP -> home router/modem -> iPad appears as an Assigned Device within home network -> home router/modem -> home ISP -> Internet -> Netflix

    (Red font indicates the tunneling protection provided by VPN)

    If I didn't use VPN, the packets will take a much less convoluted path.
    iPad -> work router -> work ISP -> Internet -> Netflix

    The advantage of VPN in this case would be to bypass geographical blocks that Netflix places on some countries. So if I were say, in Malaysia now, and wanted to watch a Netflix movie, the red portion is hidden completely from Netflix and I would seem to be streaming my movies to my home network.

    An extra tidbit...Netflix streams through port 80 and 443 (http + https). Throttling Netflix streams would also affect your web browsing experience.

    This guy knows what he's talking about. The ONLY way to bypass snooping by your ISP and throttling is to tunnel all the way to Netflix's servers, from the users' modems.
  10. rusty2192 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2008
  11. macalla macrumors member

    Jul 13, 2014
  12. betman macrumors 6502


    Jan 15, 2013
    VPN works best when connected to a server close-by, though in the vast majority of cases I don't think it will do anything to speed up someone's Netflix throughput.

    Of course if your ISP is deliberately slowing down Netflix then that is another story, but in my case the ISP does not discriminate against any traffic. If they did I would dump them immediately...

    A VPN can come in handy in a very rare scenario, usually when you want to use Netflix abroad and the VPN provider has a server in the same country that you are in... but with a US IP. That way you can connect to a VPN server close-by and yet Netflix will still see you as being in the US. :)
  13. oneMadRssn macrumors 601


    Sep 8, 2011
    New England
    Not all ISPs. Some few are actually not so bad. I happen to live in the 10% of the Boston area that has actual cable competition. We have a choice between Comcast and RCN. Unfortunately 90% of the area is not as lucky and is stuck with only Comcast. Not only does RCN not throttle Netflix, they brag about how they are a Netflix Open Connect Partner, and have the highest Netflix speed in the area.
  14. tvguy macrumors member


    Jul 10, 2008
    Las Vegas, NV
    Comcast was throttling Netfix until last February. Netflix had to dump millions of $$$ into Comcasts pockets.
  15. chiefbozz macrumors newbie

    Jul 22, 2014
    I was thinking about doing this by using my iMac as a router using Internet Sharing since I don't have a DD-WRT router. Anyone know of any downsides to this? Does it have the power to send the wireless signal to my Apple TV or XB1?

    I know Netflix only suggests at least a 5Mbps service for getting best quality video. I have 50MBps service through TWC and still experience slow downs and hiccups. Has anyone used a VPN and been able to step down their service speed? Saving money and having great service would be ideal!
  16. JeffPerrin macrumors 6502


    Jul 21, 2014

    Had dual ISPs for a while, Comcast and Fairpoint, in order to compare cable vs/ DSL. Comcast was horrible for Netflix and iTunes. The "slower" DSL worked great for both. (got 8 to 10 Mbps with the DSL) Had to stick with Comcast though because uploads via DSL were too slow (under 1Mbs) for FaceTime/video conferencing. After Feb, Comcast waved their magic wand and *poof*, Netflix streaming was perfect again!
  17. SpinalTap macrumors regular


    Sep 25, 2003
    Bournville, UK
    This is the way I do it...

    I have NetShade (VPN) on my 2012 Mac Mini upstairs, connected to my AppleTV downstairs via Devolo homeplugs. I use HippoRemote on my iPhone as system control.

    Whenever I want to watch content from another territory, I engage NetShade on my Mac Mini, select the appropriate territory, and then select AirPlay to my AppleTV.

    Within Safari, the relevant content is selected. This now fully displays in the correct aspect on my downstairs plasma television that is connected to the AppleTV.

    HippoRemote is then utilised to start watching the content - and then, if required, to select alternative content.

    The caveat is that this will only work on AirPlay equipped Macs.
  18. Toltepeceno Suspended


    Jul 17, 2012
    SMT, Edo MX, MX
    I use unblockus to switch territories.
  19. impilot macrumors newbie

    Aug 14, 2009
    Yes, it makes a difference....

    Here are two screenshots of Speedtest.net, one without VPN and one with a VPN running to a private VPN service. Oh, and BTW, the faster one is with the VPN running. These were taken seconds apart. One other thing...I have 24 Meg Uverse service. So they obviously can not throttle speed when you are going through a tunnel.

    Attached Files:

  20. betman macrumors 6502


    Jan 15, 2013
    If throttling is an issue then VPN could definitely speed things up. You can even set your router to connect to a VPN automatically and route all (or some) of your traffic this way.

    Personally I'm still using a DNS solution instead as in my case I live overseas and have no IPS throttling issues, so I just need to appear to be using a US IP.

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