Plex centralizes all of your content, allowing you to access it from anywhere. You may store content on a home Plex server and use it to build your own personal streaming service, or you can use Plex to access third-party streaming services. A VPN can mask the IP address of your Plex server and encrypt streaming data, shielding you from snoopers and hackers.
As with Kodi, another popular open source media player that sprang from the XBMC project, Plex’s streaming capabilities may be enhanced by add-ons, or “channels” in Plex’s nomenclature. Among these are well-known brands such as BBC iPlayer, Pandora, Comedy Central, Crackle, and Crunchyroll. Regrettably, most of the content on those channels is region-locked, which means it can only be accessed from a certain nation or country. If you want to unblock geo-restricted Plex channels, the most efficient method is to use a VPN.
A VPN, which stands for Virtual Private Network, encrypts all internet data on a device and passes it via an intermediate server in a location of your choice. By connecting to a VPN server in the United Kingdom, for example, you may get a British IP address and thus watch BBC iPlayer on Plex.
Best VPN for Plex
Based on the following criteria, we’ve suggested the best VPN for Plex:
- Servers that are quick and dependable for high-quality streaming.
- Port forwarding allows you to access your Plex servers remotely.
- Vast, worldwide network of servers enables you to unblock almost anything.
- Security and privacy policies that are robust.
- Customer service that is responsive and competent.
- Compatible with a wide range of devices and operating systems.
NordVPN is situated in Panama and provides an excellent all-around service that will not disappoint even the most ardent streamers or privacy enthusiasts. It accomplishes this at a fantastic price—a single subscription allows for simultaneous connections to multiple devices. Apps for Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android are available. Additionally, the firm provides pre-flashed Tomato and DD-WRT routers in case you wish to connect to a device that does not allow VPNs natively.
NordVPN does not support port forwarding. Avoid attempting to use it to remotely broadcast from your home Plex server. However, you may use NordVPN’s smart DNS service to unblock streaming services from overseas on a variety of devices that do not allow VPNs by default, such as a game console or smart TV.
Each connection is secured with uncrackable encryption, and the firm maintains no record of its customers’ activities or identity. Speeds are comparable to those of other top performers.
There are over 5,000 servers spread across several countries, so you should have no difficulty locating one to unblock a geo-restricted channel. NordVPN is one of the most proficient VPNs we’ve ever tested to unblock.
Throughout the day, assistance is accessible via live chat, email, and a ticket submission form.
How do we evaluate VPNs
Each VPN we propose complies with PrivacyExplore’s security, privacy, and performance criteria. Each VPN is evaluated using a rigorous set of criteria, which includes expert analysis, comprehensive testing, and real-world experience. When it comes to Plex VPNs, we look at the following:
- Port forwarding: Only a small number of VPN services provide port forwarding. Port forwarding enables you to host your Plex server behind a VPN while still allowing remote access from outside your house.
- Speed: We evaluate each VPN’s download speed to servers located throughout the world.
- Security: Each VPN must adhere to a set of basic encryption requirements. Additionally, we look for a range of data breaches.
- Streaming: Many Plex users who use VPNs want to view region-locked content from outside the United States. Each VPN is evaluated against a lot of streaming services, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, and Hulu.
- Server network: We choose VPNs with a diverse network of server locations across the globe.
- Customer support: The VPN we suggest provides live customer support, with most of them operating 24 hours a day.
Is it possible to utilize a free VPN with Plex?
For a variety of reasons, we highly warn readers against using free VPNs. To begin with, many free VPNs impose limits on the amount of data you may download and upload, as well as a bandwidth ceiling on your maximum speed. In either case, streaming from your Plex server or a third-party channel will be insufficient.
Second, free VPNs often profit from their customers’ trust by collecting data on their browsing activity and selling it to other parties. Numerous websites place monitoring cookies in users’ browsers and some even embed advertising directly into web pages.
Finally, utilizing free VPNs exposes you to a significant chance of infection.
How to utilize a VPN in conjunction with Plex
If all you want is to safeguard your Plex client and watch region-locked content from overseas, using a VPN is quite simple! Simply follow the instructions below.
- Subscribe to the VPN mentioned above. Our best recommendation for Plex is NordVPN.
- Install the VPN client on the same device as the Plex client.
- Launch the VPN application and choose a location. For BBC iPlayer, it should match the country of origin of the streaming service you’re attempting to unblock, for example, the United Kingdom.
- Press and hold the Connect button for a few minutes to allow the connection to form.
- Launch Plex and begin streaming your preferred geo-restricted content! A VPN connection should be maintained in the background.
This is ideal if you’re just streaming using the Plex client. However, if you want to utilize a VPN with your personal Plex server, continue reading.
How to use a VPN to broadcast content from a Plex server remotely
A VPN might complicate matters if you have a Plex server at home that you wish to view remotely from another location. Currently, most VPNs have integrated NAT firewalls that prevent unwanted requests from reaching your device. That is, if you attempt to use Plex from a distant place, the VPN will block your connection.
To circumvent this constraint, you’ll have to give up some security. The simplest method is to use a VPN that supports port forwarding. Both PrivateVPN and Private Internet Access provide this feature. You may use port forwarding to accept unsolicited requests over a port in the VPN’s NAT firewall. With the appropriate port open, you may access Plex from anywhere on the globe over a secure VPN connection.
Plex needs both the server and the client to broadcast and view the video stored on the server. The server may be installed on a computer running Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or FreeBSD, or on a network-attached storage (NAS) device. The server is linked to the internet, which enables other devices equipped with the Plex client software to access it and stream movies and other content. Plex client applications are available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, Windows Mobile, Android, gaming consoles (PS4 and Xbox One), streaming video players (Roku, Fire TV, and Chromecast), and other platforms.
Alternatively, you may read our article on how to route Plex selectively over a VPN. Keep in mind that since a VPN creates a secure tunnel, if you attempt to run one on your Plex server without selectively routing it, no other devices will be able to access your Plex server.
Configuring a VPN on your router
Certain devices on which Plex is installed may not support VPNs. In this situation, you’ll need to configure a VPN on another computer and then connect it to your Plex device. You have two primary options: either construct a virtual router on a spare laptop or set up the VPN directly on the firmware of your wireless network.
Utilizing Plex in conjunction with a VPN-enabled virtual router
This is the simplest of the two options and involves far less danger, but you will need a laptop or a desktop computer with Wi-Fi capability. In essence, you’ll build a wireless hotspot on your laptop, link it to a VPN, and then connect your Plex device to the laptop’s wireless network. This will then redirect all Plex traffic to the VPN server.
Many individuals are unaware that their home PCs are capable of broadcasting their own wireless networks. We have instructions that will walk you through the process of configuring VPN-enabled virtual routers on MacOS and Windows.
Utilization of Plex with a VPN-enabled wireless router
Configuring a VPN on a physical router is far more complicated and, if not done correctly, may result in the router being permanently damaged. Therefore, proceed with care.
You’ll need a VPN-compatible router firmware. To access your router’s dashboard, type 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1 into your browser’s URL bar and enter your username and password. If you’re unsure of your username or password, visit your internet service provider, the owner’s handbook, or Google. Once signed in, search the dashboard for VPN options.
Keep in mind that if you’re hosting a Plex server on your router’s network, you’ll need to port forward past the router’s NAT firewall in order to get remote access to the server.
If it turns out that your router does not allow VPNs, do not despair. You may be able to change the factory firmware using DD-WRT or Tomato. This is a free and open-source firmware that enables VPNs and is compatible with a wide variety of wifi routers. Ascertain that you have the appropriate build for your router model.
If you are unsure about flashing fresh firmware onto your router, or if your router is incompatible with DD-WRT or Tomato, you may always buy a pre-flashed router from your VPN provider. We’ve highlighted each VPN that provides pre-configured routers that come pre-configured with everything you need to connect.
DNS proxy for Plex
Another tool used to evade local limitations on streaming video is a DNS proxy, or clever DNS. Unlike a VPN, which encrypts and tunnels all data between your device and a distant server, a DNS proxy encrypts and tunnels just DNS queries.
The Domain Name System (DNS) is similar to a phone book in that it connects domain names (such as “privacyexplore.com”) to the IP addresses of the servers that host the site. Typically, DNS queries are directed to the DNS servers of your internet service provider, which determines where to route the remainder of your internet traffic. Websites and streaming video providers may infer your approximate location depending on the destination of your DNS queries.
A DNS proxy substitutes DNS servers provided by your ISP with private ones. Numerous streaming gadgets, like Apple TV and gaming consoles, do not support VPNs in their entirety, but do enable DNS proxies. While a DNS proxy does not provide the same degree of anonymity and secrecy as a VPN, it is a viable alternative if all you want to do is unblock a video. ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and CyberGhost all enable you to utilize their specialized DNS servers for streaming independently of the VPN. If your device supports smart DNS, you may generally configure your device’s network settings to include your preferred DNS servers.