Though I write a lot about how great it is to watch Netflix on the road, to tell you the truth, it’s been a while since I’ve accessed the site while outside the USA. I went on a vacation to the Philippines recently, and was unpleasantly surprised that sometimes, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.
The this is that while accessing Netflix outside the USA is really easy, you’ve got to take into consideration your original internet connection. Much of the internet connection points, even in the hostels I stayed, were pretty slow. Especially in the evening when all the home-bodies were back in their rooms eating up my precious bandwidth, it was almost impossible to stream movies.
There were quite a few alternatives to streaming Netflix – some of them movies, some of them just videos. And actually, having the VPN helped in this situation.
One of the disadvantages of Netflix is that you can’t save your progress and skip around in the video that’s loaded. For example, I can’t leave the hostel for the beach and leave Netflix to buffer a movie to be ready when I get back. After some loading, it will automatically start playing, or just stop buffering. In this case, if you internet connection is slow, no amount of pre-loading your movies will help you because after 20 minutes, you’ll be back at square-one.
However, there are plenty of alternative movie streaming sites. I don’t understand how they’re able to exist because they were free, and obviously copyright infringement, but what-the-hell, what do I care?
Point of the story is that I was able to stream Finding Nemo in HD from my hostel (not on Netflix). And even though the loading was slow, I was able to save progress.
And actually, having the VPN helped to load and stream faster than with my Filipino IP address. Remember, that although some sites may be banned, because of server proximity, you may get faster speeds with VPN servers in different countries!
***A cool trick with websites like this is that you can open two windows and skip ahead to the second half of the movie in your second window. This way, once you’ve finished the first half of the movie, your 2nd half is ready to go, and you don’t have to wait! Actually, it works better with a 30/70 or 40/60 ratio, but you get the point.
And along the same lines, I found that streaming video from YouTube was faster with the VPN as well. Again, YouTube is not banned or blocked in the Philippines, but being on an island in the middle of nowhere, internet speeds were horrible. Though the VPN I was able to connect to an American VPN server and get decent streaming speeds on YouTube. Though there were no movies, there were some good YouTube channels, including some TV shows created especially for YouTube.
Some More Ideas For Streaming Netflix En Route
There are some things you can do to speed up your streaming speed on Netflix Outside the USA.
1. Use PPTP
My biggest mistake other than thinking that hostel internet was going to be fast was using the OpenVPN from my stint in China. I totally forgot until later on down the road. PPTP is a low-bandwidth VPN so will probably increase streaming capabilities of Netflix. In some areas however, using any VPN will speed stuff up because of server proximity. If you have the time, do experiment.
2. Close All Other Programs
I’m super impatient, and when movies are loading I tend to browse and do other stuff like work on my site here. The problem is that this eats up bandwidth too. If I could be a bit more patient maybe my movies would stream faster. I go on the principle that if I forget it’s loading, it will load faster (a watched kettle never boils, right?). Closing all other internet-sucking programs is another option however.