5 Best VPNs for Plex in 2024 (Free Pick Included, Too)

Ruheni Mathenge  - Streaming Expert
Last updated: June 25, 2024
Read time: 15 minutes
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This comprehensive article discusses Plex and its advantages, outlining and discussing the best VPNs Plex users can use for streaming.

THE TAKEAWAYS

Since Plex is geo-restricted to users within the USA, it is advisable to use a premium VPN to access the full scope of Plex’s services and also protect your private data. At the same time, not all VPNs can effectively unblock Plex while keeping your data safe. We did deep research and tested over 50+ VPN services and curated a list of top reliable services to watch Plex. However, if you ask us to name one, NordVPN is our top recommended service. Read this article till the end to learn about these services in detail.

Plex is an American-based streaming platform that boasts an expansive store of video content for its users from anywhere in the world. It is packed with an extensive media collection and can also serve as a store where you can rewatch handpicked content that may not be available.

However, the platform won’t be available outside America. Therefore, you would need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to bypass these restrictions. In this article, we review the top-notch VPN services for watching Plex anywhere.

Best VPNs to use with Plex – Quick list

Here’s a brief rundown of the top five VPNs to stream Plex. Here, we highlight the key factors that make them stand out from the others we tested.

  1. NordVPN: A pocket-friendly VPN with an extensive network of servers across the globe. It boasts above-average unblocking capabilities and supports lag-free streaming.
  2. Private Internet Access (PIA): It features advanced port forwarding, has easy-to-use applications, and allows multiple simultaneous device connections.
  3. ExpressVPN: It has a super fast server network and unblocks most geo-restricted content. The service supports a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
  4. PrivateVPN: Another VPN with port forwarding enabled. It has excellent and comprehensive unblocking ability and offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  5. Proton VPN: Boasts a seamless app design with easy to use interface. It boasts the best streaming speed test result, and flaunts the highest value for money.

How to use a VPN with Plex

Using Plex with VPNs is a safe way to stream otherwise geo-restricted content from anywhere you are in the world. Below are the steps to follow to use Plex with a VPN:

  1. Sign up for a VPN service. We recommend NordVPN.
  2. Download and install the appropriate app for the device on which Plex is installed.
  3. Open the VPN app after installation, and select your preferred streaming platform’s location, e.g., the US for Plex.
  4. Click on the “Connect” icon or button; the connection should take a few moments.
  5. Next, open Plex, and you can stream all your favorite geo-restricted content as long as the VPN stays connected.

Plex is an American-based streaming platform that hosts an extensive collection of curated media content available to paid users at all times. It is 100% legal to use, and the proof of this is its trusted partnerships with its content providers.

Plex is perfectly legal when streaming from their server or uploading personal media that was legally obtained and recreated. In addition, this service sources content from other trusted streaming services, which is sanctioned and mutually agreed upon. Thus, whatever content Plex has on display, it has the legal right to do so.

However, people can also use Plex for illegal activities. Say, for example, uploading illegally acquired media or ripping legally purchased media and uploading it into Plex. You would be culpable, but Plex would only be an unwitting accomplice, free of blame.

In summary, Plex is a legal service you can use to watch free online movies since it breaks no laws with its sourcing or displaying of media content.

Why use a VPN for Plex?

If you’re still undecided on whether to use a VPN for Plex or not, here are some reasons why you should always have a VPN for Plex:

Bypass Plex regional streaming restrictions

While Plex offers a variety of content, much of it is geographically blocked, and the easiest way to access it is with a reliable VPN. Usually, copyright holders restrict their content based on geographical regions to maximize their profits. Therefore, it’s likely that movies or TV shows in one region might not be available in another. 

However, you can unblock such restrictions by tricking the provider into thinking you’re in a different location with a VPN. This will give you access to content otherwise unavailable due to geo-restrictions.


Local censorship

Some regions have stringent measures that limit what citizens stream online. For instance, China is known for the strict censorship it imposes on its citizens. Thankfully, a VPN for Plex masks your identity by encrypting your traffic, allowing you to bypass geo-blocks.

While your ISPs will see streaming activity on your address, they can’t tell your exact identity, location, and what you are streaming. However, you must use a VPN with premium security features such as obfuscation technology and AES encryption.

Although VPNs are legal in most regions, what you do with them might be illegal. For example, if local laws prohibit using VPNs to access certain content or platforms, doing so might attract serious legal implications.


Bandwidth throttling 

Streaming and online gaming are some of the most bandwidth-intensive activities. Most internet service providers (ISPs) usually monitor these tasks to prevent system overload and ensure uniform bandwidth distribution. The standard technique they use is known as bandwidth throttling, which slows your network speeds significantly.

However, you don’t have to worry about ISP throttling when using a VPN. It will tunnel your connection through secure servers, making it difficult for ISPs to see what you are doing online, and it won’t limit your speeds.


Privacy protection 

Data has become quite a valuable commodity with the emergence of sophisticated technologies. So, ISPs can collect your online data and create a profile that details your browsing habits

They then sell the data to third parties, thus compromising your privacy. However, with a VPN, you can encrypt your traffic to ensure that ISPs and other parties cannot track your internet activity when using Plex. 

In addition, most VPNs come with an automatic kill switch and a no-logs policy to protect your privacy. The kill switch will cut off your connection in case the VPN malfunctions.


Block trackers and ads 

Plex’s free service has many ads and trackers that might infect your device or expose your privacy. Some redirects may also install malware into your device, thus risking your private data. Luckily, most reliable VPNs have additional security features such as ad and malware blocking.


Determining the best VPNs for Plex – Our criteria

Determining the best VPNs for Plex included testing several mainstream VPNs using different test metrics that work best with Plex. These metrics include:

  1. Security: Each of the VPNs we’ve curated on this list has passed a rigorous security test for strict encryption standards and, of course, a test for anti-data leak capabilities.
  2. Speed: Using most VPNs can cause considerable data speed reduction. Therefore, you want a VPN that delivers a fast and consistent connection at all times for a smooth experience. We speed-tested the VPNs to servers from across the globe to ensure only the fastest are among our recommendations.
  3. Privacy: For the privacy metric, we checked for the ones whose privacy policies included a no-logs policy to avoid the storage of identifiable user logs.
  4. Streaming: We tested each VPN for its streaming capabilities, meaning the amount of geo-restricted platforms they can access, which include Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video.
  5. Port Forwarding: Port forwarding is the ability of a VPN to let you access your Plex server via VPN but from a location outside your house.
  6. Server Network: We tested the number and efficacy of the VPN’s network of servers in different locations.
  7. Customer Support: Finally, we tested the responsiveness and quality of the VPN customer service. We found the ones on our list to be among the ones with 24/7 support.

Best VPNs for Plex to use in 2024 – Detailed list

Based on their performance scores, the five best VPNs for Plex listed below have advantages and disadvantages but are the best options.

Some people prefer streaming and torrenting, while others prefer security and speed. Consider your top priorities and select from the list accordingly.

1. NordVPN

NordVPN for Streaming

A Panama-based VPN that provides a reliable solution for those seeking to evade censorship and geographical restrictions on Plex.

servers A network of over 5,000 fast VPN servers present in over 59 countries
Ad Blocker feature Adequate threat protection (malware, tracking, and ad blockers)
encryption Military standard, most reliable encryption available: AES-256
Kill switch Features a kill switch that’s easy to use
Split tunneling feature Split tunneling feature with high functionality
MultiHop mode Offers multi-hop VPN for double encryption
tor compatible Provides seamless Onion over VPN functionality
Zero-logs policy No users’ data is stored
simultaneous connections Each account allows users to connect up to ten devices simultaneously
money-back guarantee No-questions-asked 30-day money-back guarantee
Pros
  • Apps with user-friendly designs and intuitive navigation
  • User data is not monitored or stored under anti-privacy laws
  • Unblocks Plex flawlessly
Cons
  • The desktop app is outdated

NordVPN has an impressive collection of quality features. This VPN perfectly fits Plex users concerned about security and privacy. It affords users fast and reliable connections with an extensive network of 5,000 servers in over 60 locations worldwide.

Since NordVPN is free of anti-privacy laws that mandate the monitoring or storing of user data, you are guaranteed maximum privacy. As a result, your online activity with Plex is secure, private, and seamless. NordVPN ensures this with its uncrackable 256-bit encryption and no-log policy without compromising the connection’s speed.

Users can also enjoy NordVPN protection on multiple devices on just one subscription on six devices simultaneously. Unfortunately, the service does not support port forwarding, so you can’t access Plex servers outside your home.

NordVPN is optimized for macOS, Windows, Android, and iOS and has apps for all these platforms. It also works for dedicated routers and devices that do not support VPN connections.


2. Private Internet Access (PIA)

Private internet access pros cons block logo

A budget-friendly VPN vendor for all your device security needs in Paraguay. It boasts impressive speed that would be enough for buffer-free streaming.

servers An extensive network of over 33,000 VPN servers present in 80+ countries
P2P optimized servers Peer to Peer connection supportive servers
encryption Secure connection with robust encryption; AES 128-bits and 256-bits
Ad Blocker feature Solid protection against malware and adware with in-built MACE
Zero-logs policy Enforces a policy of zero logs
Trusted servers nord Runs on RAM-only VPN servers (benefits privacy)
Split tunneling feature The split tunneling feature works as expected
Kill switch Boasts a feature-rich kill switch
simultaneous connections Each account allows connection to unlimited simultaneous devices
money-back guarantee 30 days full money-back guarantee
Pros
  • Exceptional value for money with multi-device protection
  • Boasts uncompromising privacy policy with no logs kept
  • Has unbeatable encryption and security protocols
Cons
  • Kill switches are only available on some operating systems

Suppose you are a Plex user with a superior taste in media and want to access this private media library when you’re not connected to the router in your home. In that case, Private Internet Access is a perfect choice. Thanks to its port forwarding feature, you can access your stored media remotely and safely via the Plex servers.

Although the VPN has high levels of security and privacy, its streaming capabilities could be improved. For example, while you can access most streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Disney+, you cannot access the others. Furthermore, Plex is inaccessible from China.

However, PIA makes up for its low streaming capabilities with impressive security. It will not store your metadata or identifiable logs or monitor online activity. It also has military-grade encryption, a kill switch, and IPv6 leak protection.

The app is also easy to use and quite portable. PIA is compatible with Windows, iOS, Linux, macOS, and Android and works on multiple devices and dedicated routers.


3. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN new features block logo 120 by 120 now

A leading choice among VPNs for Plex that users widely favor for its versatility across multiple platforms.

servers A network of thousands of fast servers in more than 90 countries
Trusted servers nord TrustedServer technology (enhanced security)
encryption Provides reliable data encryption with AES-256
Zero-logs policy User traffic usage is not logged
Split tunneling feature Split tunneling feature with efficiency
network lock feature Boasts Network Lock (kill switch) feature
tor compatible Supports Tor over VPN
P2P optimized servers Peer to peer traffic allowed on servers
simultaneous connections Users can connect eight devices at a time
money-back guarantee 30-day tested refund policy
Pros
  • Secure, private access with best-performing encryption
  • Has an option to sign up anonymously
  • Easily bypasses geo-restricted sites
Cons
  • Does not support port forwarding on apps except the router client

Plex users who require an optimized VPN for a broader range of devices and operating systems can rely on ExpressVPN. This VPN works flawlessly on virtually any device with the Plex app installed, including macOS, Android, Windows, iOS, and Linux. It does not, however, support remote access via port forwarding.

But even with this, it does not diminish how much of a great choice ExpressVPN is for Plex users. Its unblocking ability is second to none, capable of unblocking a much broader amount of geo-restricted content. Moreover, it does this without any data caps and a lightning-fast connection, ensuring you get HD, buffer-free streaming from anywhere in the world.

VPN has over 3,000 servers in 94 countries, giving Plex users more connection options. Moreover, users can access these servers without risk thanks to its military-grade AES-bit encryption, no-logs policy, DNS leak protection, and responsive kill switch.

Additionally, if you own devices that do not support VPNs, ExpressVPN covers you with its MediaStreamer DNS.


4. PrivateVPN

PrivateVPN small

A well-maintained VPN vendor that fits seamlessly with Plex for risk-free streaming.

servers Has over 180 server locations across 60+ countries
encryption 256-bit AES encryption for robust internet data security
P2P optimized servers Peer to Peer-supportive network of servers
protection Dependable web leak protection
Kill switch Provides a kill switch you can depend on
Zero-logs policy Doesn’t keep users’ logs
simultaneous connections Each account allows up to ten devices at once
money-back guarantee Money-back guarantee of 30 days
Pros
  • User-friendly apps for mobile and desktop platforms
  • Accessible even from China 
  • Boasts unbreakable unblocking capabilities
Cons
  • Relatively smaller server network

PrivateVPN is the perfect fit for Plex users for many reasons, the first being its port-forwarding feature. This feature allows users to connect to the Plex servers even when the VPN protects their location.

To do this, take note of a “Port number” that usually appears under the “Disconnect” button right after you connect to the VPN. Then, copy and paste the number into the application you wish to forward to, for example, the Plex server.

PrivateVPN also affords its users a safe and private streaming experience while using Plex, thanks to its military-grade security protocols that protect against data tracking and leaks, such as 256-bit encryption, IPv6, and DNS leak protection.

Not only is it safe from leaks and monitoring, but PrivateVPN is also fast and unblocks an extensive collection of popular streaming platforms otherwise geo-restricted.

In addition, PrivateVPN is usable and has compatible apps on mainstream operating systems such as Android, macOS, Windows, and iOS.


5. Proton VPN

ProtonVPN

Best free VPN that grants access to geo-restricted content while maintaining privacy and anonymity for a secure and untraceable online experience.

servers Has more than 1,900 VPN servers present in 67 countries worldwide
encryption Boasts strong AES-256-bit encryption standard
protection Verified no DNS leaks
P2P optimized servers Peer to Peer connections are allowed
Kill switch Kill switch mode is customizable
simultaneous connections Each account connects up to seven devices at once
money-back guarantee Adheres to 45-day money-back policy
Pros
  • Affordable pricing
  • Provides top-of-the-line encryption protocols and security measures
  • No user activity data is collected or stored
  • Has a free plan
Cons
  • Lacking some advance features

Finally, on our list of the top 5 best VPNs to use with Plex, this VPN is by no means mediocre. Proton VPN is the best free VPN because it is fast and reliable. User connection, IP address, and traffic data are all safe and private with Proton VPN.

This VPN service has a strict no-logs policy, high-end 256-bit encryption, and an active kill switch, ensuring you always stay secure and private.

This VPN is also the best option for first-time VPN users, thanks to its easy-to-use interface. On the other hand, paid users have various options, starting with over 1,900 active servers in 65+ countries. In addition, you can protect up to seven devices with just one paid subscription.

However, Proton VPN can’t access your Plex library remotely because it is not port forwarding enabled. It also does not have firmware for devices that do not ordinarily support VPN use. But with its versatile design, you can have the VPN work with Plex on Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows.


Using Plex with free VPNs

We do not recommend using free VPNs for any reason. They are largely unsafe and need to give users the full scope of quality performance, especially with Plex’s vast collection of services.

In addition, free VPNs have data caps, limiting how much you can upload or download, including an in-built throttle to reduce your connection speeds. This feature will make Plex streaming a daunting task; we do not recommend it.

Regarding security and privacy, free VPNs are notorious for mining user browsing traffic and selling the data to nefarious third parties. They do this by flooding or subtly inserting cookies into your browser to steal your private data, even before harmful files or software, such as malware, can damage your computer.

VPNs to avoid Plex

When choosing a VPN, it is essential to be cautious since a poor VPN can harm your privacy and streaming experience. 

Since your primary goal in using a VPN is to protect your privacy and unblock geo-restricted content, it is vital to go for a VPN with fast speeds and exceptional unblocking capabilities. 

To ensure you don’t fall victim to incompetent VPNs, we suggest you avoid the following VPNs for Plex. 

Hotspot Shield

It is advisable to avoid Hotspot Shield as a VPN choice. Recently, Hotspot Shield faced scrutiny from the FTC for privacy violations involving injected JavaScript codes, suspicious tracking cookies, and redirecting users’ HTTP requests to affiliate pages.


Hola

Another VPN service that you should stay away from is Hola. In 2015, it was revealed that Hola used its users’ computing resources as exit nodes, routing traffic through these nodes and selling the bandwidth to a third-party service.


Zenmate

Zenmate and other VPNs faced VPN leaks in 2018, compromising users’ identities through their actual IP addresses. Despite the severity of the issue at the time, Zenmate took considerably longer to address the problem.


Streaming remotely with Plex using a VPN

Plex offers users a unique service that allows them to access Plex libraries or even their privately curated libraries remotely from anywhere.

However, most mainstream VPNs do not support this feature because most VPNs have NAT firewalls that prohibit unsolicited access requests from reaching your device. Thus, the VPN will block any access to Plex from remote locations because it cannot trust it.

You can easily overcome this constraint but at some security costs. VPNs with “port forwarding” capabilities are the easiest alternative. From our list, PrivateVPN and Private Internet Access come with this feature. The port forwarding feature grants you remote access by opening a port in the VPN’s NAT firewall, essentially bypassing it.

Ideally, Plex utilizes a server and a client to stream and watch media on the same server. You can set up this server on your macOS, Windows, FreeBSD, Linux, or NAS device. Since the device is connected to the internet, users can connect with Plex client apps and stream their preferred media.

How to sync your router with a VPN

Using Plex with a VPN is relatively simple, but this is only sometimes the case for all devices, as some do not support VPN. But it’s not all bad news; you can still get the device to work easily.

You can set up the VPN on a different device and connect your Plex to that device. Once you do this, there are two different methods to sync your router with a VPN to use Plex:

  • Set up a virtual router on a spare laptop.
  • Configure the VPN on your router’s firmware.

1. Creating a VPN-enabled virtual router to use with Plex

This option is the least risky and most straightforward for beginners. All you need is a laptop or a wifi-enabled desktop computer.

Below are the simple steps to creating a virtual router:

  • Create a wifi hotspot on the wifi-capable desktop or laptop.
  • Connect the device to the VPN.
  • Next, connect the Plex device to the hotspot.
  • Sit back and let the router route your traffic through the VPN server.

With these simple steps, you can create a virtual router that is both VPN-enabled and Plex-capable.


2. Using Plex with a VPN-enabled wifi router

Connecting a VPN to a physical router is surprisingly more difficult than expected and, if done wrongly, can lead to irreversible damage to the router. Also, note that you must use a router that is VPN-enabled.

Below are the steps to follow to set up your physical router carefully:

  • Log in to the router homepage.
  • Look for VPN settings.
  • Next, you need to port forward through the NAT firewall. And that’s it.

If your router does not support VPNs, don’t worry; you can still fix the problem by replacing the stock firmware with DD-WRT. This free and open-source firmware works well with various wifi routers and supports VPNs.


What is the Plex DNS proxy?

Like a VPN service, a DNS proxy, or Smart DNS, is software that allows users to bypass geo-restricted content. But unlike VPNs, which encrypt and route all user traffic through a remote server, a DNS proxy only routes DNS requests.

DNS or Domain Name System is a registry of domain names matched with the host site’s IP addresses. Where DNS requests are usually sent to ISP’s DNS servers, a DNS proxy replaces the ISP’s DNS with private ones. 

This is handy because while most streaming devices are not fully compatible with VPNs, they work fine with DNS proxies. The only drawback to using a DNS proxy instead of a VPN is the reduced privacy and security.

We recommend using VPNs with a SmartDNS feature that allows you to use devices that generally would not work with VPN but support DNS. These VPNs include NordVPN, ExpressVPN, and Proton VPN.

What is Plex Pass?

Plex Pass is a subscription service offered by Plex, a popular media streaming platform. With a Plex Pass subscription, users can access various premium features and benefits, including recording live TV and accessing exclusive music, photo, and video features.

Additionally, Plex Pass subscribers get early access to the latest features, enhancements, and discounts on other products and services. Some other benefits of a Plex Pass subscription include the ability to use cloud sync, mobile sync, and other advanced sharing features. In addition, you will have access to the Plex app on a wide range of devices.

The monthly plan of Plex Pass costs $4.99, or you can get the annual plan for $39.99. Plex Pass also offers a Lifetime plan for $119.99 – a one-time payment for a lifetime.

What to do if Plex is not working with VPN

Sometimes, you might encounter problems when accessing Plex with a VPN. Here are some common fixes to Plex not working with a VPN:

  • Switch to a different server: If you encounter endless buffering or lags while streaming on Plex, try connecting to another server in a different location. Finding alternative servers shouldn’t be a problem, especially with a top streaming VPN like ExpressVPN. 
  • Check for updates: Ensure that your VPN software is up to date, as an outdated version may cause functionality issues. Check the settings of your VPN provider and ensure you are using the latest version.
  • Clear browser cookies and cache: As you browse the web, your activities leave traces of information in the form of cookies and cache. Streaming services can use this data to track and block the content you want to access. Counter this by clearing all cookies on your device or switching to a different browser.
  • Verify for IP leaks: Double-check that your kill switch is active and your VPN is not leaking your actual IP address.
  • Ensure your firewall allows the connection: In the case of Windows devices, the firewall might block the connection to Plex. Whitelist the Plex app in your system settings to avoid any potential interference.
  • Restart your device: As a last resort, try turning your device off and on again. This simple action can refresh both your VPN and Plex connections.
  • Seek assistance from customer service: If none of the above solutions work, contact customer support. Describe the issue you’re facing, and the professionals should be able to help identify the underlying cause.
  • Consider switching providers: If all else fails, explore other VPN services that offer reliable performance.

FAQs

You can, but with limited functionality. Your Plex interface runs mostly with an active internet connection, meaning certain features will be inaccessible offline. Some features include adding new media, playing videos for the first time, etc. However, you can access media you have already played or downloaded offline.

MP4, 4K, UHD/HD, and M4A are among the media formats supported by Plex.

Absolutely. Plex allows users to upload media from external sources like their computers to form a niche library within the app. Users are also allowed to share this library with others.

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About the Author

Ruheni Mathenge

Ruheni Mathenge

Streaming Expert
201 Posts

Tech researcher and writer with a passion for cybersecurity. Ruheni Mathenge specializes in writing long-form content dedicated to helping individuals and businesses navigate and understand the constantly evolving online security and web freedom worlds. He specializes in VPNs, online anonymity, and encryption. His articles have appeared in many respected technology publications. Ruheni explains complicated technical concepts clearly and simply. He advocates digital freedom and online privacy at every level.

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